You Say Tomato… I say Catchup. The Great Club Cycling Conundrum; To Wait or To Drop? No-drop or Drop… or Everyone Gets Dropped? What a Cyclist should Expect from a Ride.
I’ve been having a conversation with a fellow who follows my blog, and I also follow his. He’s in a bit of a tough spot finding folks to ride with at a pace reasonable to him. He keyed in on the fact, in my post yesterday, that I held back a little bit to make sure a person I didn’t recognize knew her way around the route. After she confirmed she knew her way well, I double-timed it back to the group.
To me, that’s just the right thing to do – cycling club president or not. My blog friend commended me for this in one of his comments, though I didn’t take too much credit – it was early in the ride and I felt I wouldn’t have a problem getting back to the group with a quick sprint.
Herein lies the rub, though. A little later in the ride and I’d have hoped for the best for her, but there’s a fair chance I wouldn’t have dropped off the back to make sure she knew her way. Folks, I can work my way back to 23 mph. I wouldn’t be clawing my way back at 27 – and the ride often amps up as it goes.
It was that back and forth that led me to this post. I don’t know all of the particulars in his ride that brings about his angst, so I’m going to list the different types of rides I’ve been a part of so a cyclist can match their expectations to the ride.
- No-drop: A real, no BS no-drop ride means the ride moves at the pace of the slowest cyclist. These are advertised as no-drop rides in advance and are meant for noobs, rookies, those just out for a cruise, and seasoned cyclists looking for an easy ride to help bring new people into the group(s).
- Destination ride: A coffee, ice cream, breakfast, lunch, or dinner ride that usually has the group stretched out on the way to, and back, from a destination, unless it’s billed as “no-drop”. In that case, see above
- Re-group no-drop: Often billed as a no-drop, a re-group ride means the group waits at specific landmarks along a route for those who have fallen off to catch back up with the lead cyclists. After the re-group, the group starts off again and the faster cyclists drop the slower cyclists, only to re-group up the road. Don’t mistake this for a no-drop ride as described above – if you can’t hang, you will be dropped (at least until the next checkpoint).
- Drop: The drop ride is a simple concept. The ride is fast, populated with fast people, and if you can’t keep the pace, you get dropped. It is extremely important to let newer cyclists know the rules and guesstimated pace before the ride so they can make an informed decision on whether or not to ride with a particular group. Opposite the no-drop, the fastest cyclists set the pace and it’s everyone else’s job to keep up. If you’re new, just don’t be the first to fall off the back and you’ll have someone to ride with once they catch up to you.
- Everyone Gets Dropped: This is our Tuesday Night A Group ride – the B Group re-groups at one location in 30 miles (at about the 20 mile mark, and only for one minute or less). In an “everyone gets dropped” ride, it’s just as it sounds. A large group starts the ride but rarely, if ever, does everyone who started cross the finish line together. You’d be best served to know the route ahead of time, or have a map. Everyone gets dropped. As a side note, fast people rarely, if ever, ride a no-drop ride because they know if they rode no-drop, they wouldn’t be fast anymore. There’s always going to be someone slower who wants to join in and thinks everyone should wait for them. In the Drop and Everyone gets dropped rides, it’s the responsibility of the individual to keep up with the group. Period, end of story. If this doesn’t appeal to you, find another group.
- Private Invitation Ride: I participate in several “invite only” rides throughout the week. This is pretty much how it sounds – it’s a private invitation ride. I choose this style of ride because it’s technically a no-drop ride but we only invite people we know are fast enough to keep up and who aren’t selfish enough to think the group has a responsibility to wait for them. We also only invite those faster cyclists who won’t push the pace so hard that we can’t have a good time. I have about 20 people on my text list, and it isn’t easy to get on that list.
***As a final caveat, one of the people who ride on Tuesday marked several of the routes on the asphalt. He did this so we wouldn’t have to worry about someone getting dropped, because it happens A LOT. Assume, if someone took the time to mark a route, they did it so someone who doesn’t know the route won’t get lost should they drop off the back. They don’t make routes for people who already know them. They mark routes so they don’t have to wait for those who don’t.
It is very important to choose the right group to ride with, I can’t stress this enough. If you’re one to anger because others won’t wait for you, be careful not to pick a ride that will leave you angry – and if there isn’t a group that suits you, show up to your local club rides and create your own. I did. It took some time to catch on, of course, but we stuck with it and now we often have a bigger B Group than we do an A Group – and both groups are happier because the ride is smoother when cyclists are more closely matched in ability and desire. That isn’t the royal “we” either… I and a few of my friends stuck with the B concept until it made it.
If you have any that I might have missed, let me know in the comments and I’ll get them added with a hat tip to you.