My Friends, I decided to post this so new folks to our club would have a place to go so they can get an idea of what will happen when they join us for a Tuesday Night Club Ride. The following is for the A and B Groups – we have a pace for everyone. If you can ride a bike for ten miles, we have a group to can put you in. Just show up. Joyce, Matt, Dave, Todd, Jonathan, Brian, and I will get you fitted. All you need to know is the pace you like to ride at.
These “guidelines” and I use that word loosely, are not club rules or club policies. The intent of this post is to give a new cyclist an idea of what to expect – that is all.
First, before we get into the groups, please do us all a favor and follow a few simple courtesies for us.
- Don’t bring your time trial/triathlon rig to the club ride unless you know how to use it – which specifically means no use of the aero bars in the pack. If you’re ignorant enough to think you’re good enough to use them in the middle of a group, that says a lot about you and your misplaced arrogance. You’re not that good, you’re lucky. On the horns only unless you’re leading the group out. This is a rule because others like you have crashed others in the past. We would all like to go home to our wives, husbands, kids, and grandkids with all of our skin intact and bones whole.
- Leave your ego in the car. We’re all out for a fun time on a Tuesday night.
- Be safe. Remember your hand signals and verbal cues. Don’t stop pedaling at the front of the group and be mindful when you get out of the saddle to climb what few hills we have (some would argue that would be none).
The A Group
The A Group is the fast group. There aren’t many rules, other than “it’s a 33-mile race on open country roads”. You should know going in, this group is only for seasoned racing-paced cyclists. The group average is currently between 24 & 25-mph over 33 miles. Put in perspective, the Tour de France average is 27-mph on closed roads. The key word is “average”. To maintain a 25-mph average, they ride consistently at 28-32-mph. While they mimic a race, there are still aspects of a club ride involved. There’s a pace-line, usually single-file, and each cyclist will take a turn up front. If you can’t pull through, either stay at the back, opening up a hole for the stronger cyclists who do the work to pull you around the course, or fall off the back. Do NOT fail to pull through – even if you’re only up front for ten seconds, take your turn. If you don’t, you’ll piss everyone else off. They will attack on a hill and drop you. It will be on purpose. Stay at the back if you can’t pull through. Typically the turns are rather short, unless you’re name is “Todd”. If you’re a “Todd”, well buck up, camper… There are attacks on hills and a sprint finish at the Lennon City Limits sign. The sprint exceeds 35-mph. If you don’t know how to ride in a group, better to cut your teeth with the B or C group. The A Group often devolves into an “everybody gets dropped ride”. Be warned. If you are dropped, don’t fret. There are markers painted on the road before turns to let you know where to go. They are color coded for each route. Follow the arrows on the road.
Look at the tire on the bike on the right… that dude hung on at a 21.5-mph pace for 26 miles on his mountain bike… he only dropped in the last couple of miles.
The B Group
The B Group is the prep group for the A Group – or it’s the home of cyclists like me, who simply don’t want to work so hard their tongue is always dangling precariously close to their spokes… The B Group is more a club ride than a race, but it is still very fast. Like the A Group, it is not a “no-drop” ride. There is one regroup after the final hill in a set of hills on Parmenter Road at the Shiatown Park left turn – we wait at the top of a small hill just after the turn for anyone who got dropped on the last hill. We wait, depending on the night, anywhere from 10 to 60 seconds. There are two sprints for the B Group – one at the Vernon City Limits sign shortly after the regroup and then the final about eight miles later at the Lennon City Limits – between 32 & 35-mph for each. The B Group’s average is currently at 23-mph for the 30-mile (actual distance is 28 and change, with an easy cruise back to the church parking lot after the sprint). To make our 23-mph average, we ride north of 25-mph for most of the course. Now, if that seems a lot like the A Group, but with one regroup, you’re right. Here’s where the B Group differs, we normally don’t attack on hills and we try to keep from turning a club ride into a race. That said, if you’re worried about the pace, try the C Group your first week, then the B’s if you find C too sedate. If you end up dropped off the back, just make sure you weren’t the first to drop – if someone drops before you, you can wait for them to catch up and ride back together. Otherwise, same as the A Group above, look for the arrows. Also, myself and several others have route maps in our vehicles. Ask around.
The C Group
The C Group is the prep group for the B Group. The C Group starts getting close to the “no-drop” style of ride that many from the east coast are used to, though it’s not all unicorns farting rainbows, either. Currently, we don’t use leaders and sweepers and candlestick makers to get through the ride. We’re still a little wild, wild, Midwest about it, though this is subject to change. The C Group’s pace is currently 17-18-mph (I believe some come in above 18 later in the season, in the 18.5-mph range). It’s been years since I’ve ridden with the C Group so I don’t know which route they take, but their routes are marked as well. Some will take the 30-mile route, others the 24. Look for Brian P. or Jim H. and they’ll be able to get you with who you want to ride with. The C Group will be more helpful in getting the whole group around the course. Still, please make sure you’ll be able to fairly keep up – we want everyone to have the best time they can and if you can’t hang with an 18-mph average pace, you’re not going to have fun with your tongue dangling down by your spokes all evening long – we’ve got a group that will be more your speed…