As a general rule, club rides can be a little difficult to figure out. The faster the group, the more aloof and less welcoming the cyclists will be. This is more about self-preservation than having anything to do with you personally. Noobs are scary to a well-established group because, frankly, the general public has no idea how to act in a group travelling 40 feet per second down the road with no seatbelts – and there isn’t a lot of room for error. Here are some things that will help you fit in and endear you to those in your group. Good luck, this is gonna get bumpy. I’m not going to spare the brutal honesty on this one:
- Don’t ride a time trial or triathlon bike in the aerobars on a club ride. Fast club rides are for road bikes. If you think you’re good enough to ride in those stupid aerobars in a group, you’re not only dangerous, you’re ignorant. You’re too far from the brakes. You’ll notice the good riders who have aerobars only use them when they’re on the front or well off the back of the group. The good riders never use them in the pack. If you do, or think you’re good enough to use them in the group, remember the preceding sentence; the good riders never use them in the pack.
- There’s no such thing as a slow-roll regroup. I allowed myself to get caught up in one of these the other day and I had an apology to make for it. I have a fair defense for my actions but in the end, one of my friends got caught up and it wasn’t cool. If there’s a regroup spot picked out, stop and regroup.
- It is not the job of the group to get you around the course, grasshopper. It is your job to contribute to the group. This concept is commonly messed up, royally, hence the first sentence. If you are of the selfish nature, please save everyone the consternation of disliking you and ride alone.
- Bring your good legs to the big dance. Look, don’t show up to the ride complaining that your legs hurt. First, nobody cares. Second, see First. For instance, we ride on a Tuesday, so Monday should be a very easy recovery ride. If you absolutely lack the ability to stay off the gas when you ride, take the previous day off. I can relate to this inability to stay out of the carburetor – I was once afflicted myself. I learned, though. Bring the good legs to the good ride.
- A club ride is not a race… unless it is a race. Check to find out which you’ll be riding in before the ride. If it’s not a race, don’t use race tactics. Here are some things you need to know:
- First, there are no bonus points for hiding in the back the whole ride, only to charge for the City Limits sign, winning the sprint. Not only are there no points for this, you actually have points taken away by all of those who had to pull your @$$ around the course.
- Second, pull through, even if it’s a short turn up front. You can handle 30 seconds or so. Pull through.
- Don’t leave gaps for others to fill unless you’re at the very back of the pack. They’re hurting too, even if they don’t look it, and filling your gaps isn’t their job. It’s yours. It’s an @$$hole move to open a gap, three bikes back in a ten-deep pace line, for someone who just came off the front.
- Now, if you can’t pull through, and there are acceptable situations, there are a few etiquette items to consider:
- Stay at the back if you can’t pull through.
- Do NOT pull through to second or third bike only to tap out and leave a gap for someone else to make up because you’re too selfish to understand that what you’re really doing is screwing the people behind you.
- If you can’t pull through and take a turn at the front but won’t stay at the back, causing shakeups in the group, you are a complete twatwaffle. If you make a go for the sprint(s), you’re a double-super-duper twatwaffle. You will be looked down upon until such a time as you’ve taken a minimum of a fifteen mile turn at the front… at the group’s normal pace – in other words, Peter Sagan wannabe, you’ll be looked down upon forever because you can’t pull through in the first place, let alone sit up there for fifteen miles.
- If you’re cooked, then speed up and point to the rear wheel in front of you so the person in your draft knows to take the other wheel… then tap out.
- Here’s a good tip if you find you’ve worked up to the middle of the group but can’t pull through: wait until you get to an intersection with a stop sign or a sharp turn and make your way to the white or yellow line (depending on what side of the road you’re on and whether or not you’re in a double pace-line). Let the group go by and latch on at the back. You don’t create a gap and you’re at the back where you want to be. It happens, from time to time, you know? You mean to stay at the back but you end up creeping up a few places due to… well, that’s just how things shake out sometimes.
- DO NOT DOUBLE TAP. When the cyclist in front of you is done taking their pull and taps (or arm-flick’s) out, do not, under any circumstances, tap out at the same time and leave a gap at the front. It’s just not cool. You can get away with that shit in the D group when they’re only going 15-mph. When you’re going 27 you crush the person that has to make up for you. Better to take a short turn and tap out properly.
- Don’t play hide-and-go-draft. Hold a straight line so others can get a predictable draft behind you. You’re not racing, remember? The idea is to help the group get down the road and if the person behind you can’t get a good draft off of you, you’re basically useless up there. Don’t be useless.
- Okay, here’s the last one I’ve got… now come in real close because this one is pretty important… DON’T RIDE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE TWO ROWS OF A DOUBLE F’IN’ PACE LINE UNLESS YOU’RE ABSOLUTELY THE LAST BIKE. We’ve got a couple of guys who like to do this in the middle of the pack… I know mild-mannered people who want to push their friends off their bike for doing this. To the cyclist who thinks this is no big deal: Nobody likes riding with you. They put up with you. When someone like me pulls along side you and crowds you over to the side of the road so you’ve only got four inches of asphalt to ride on… We’re doing that on purpose to prove a point. Take the hint and knock that $#!+ off.
The point is, friends, we need to look out for our fellow cyclists and remember that which is most important when the bikes go in the truck or on the rack: We’re out there riding bikes to have fun. We need to help the others in the group so we can all keep the rubber side down and have an enjoyable time. Think about everyone else first, and remember… In a club ride, sometimes you’re the sprinter, sometimes you’re the lead out. Whichever you happen to be on a given week, do the job right.
UPDATE: The Temocyclist adds:
And don’t overlap the wheel in front!
If the rider in front moves across to avoid something at 27mph and you touch wheels, you’re going down hard, taking everyone behind you down too. That will not make you and friends