Friday, 28 August 2015

Group Ride Addict

Last year most of my rides were solo rides.  When I wasn't solo, it was usually a leisure ride with my spouse.  In my mind, cycling was a very solitary activity.  Living in the sticks means you don't often see cyclists, familiar or not.

This year I joined a local club and got a taste for riding in groups.  I went from enjoying it, to becoming an addict.  That last year of riding almost seems alien to me now.  The majority of my rides this year have all been with others, anywhere from 2 or 3 to 20.

At first it was the rider development night that got me hooked.  This is a slower paced ride where new and experienced cyclists can mingle.  It got me up and running on group etiquette, group technique and helped build my endurance and stamina  Below is a time lapse video from one of my club's development nights.

Being in a group literally means safety in numbers.  As a lone cyclist, you might be unnoticed by a motor vehicle.  But a pack of cyclists is very noticeable.  While the majority of motor vehicles sharing the road are very courteous, I've noticed I am less likely to get harassed in a group.

When things go wrong, it helps to have supportive people around.  You might be short a leer or a tube, or need a spoke wrench or a chain breaker, there's usually someone who can loan you something.  Or if you're inexperienced at a road side repair, there's usually someone who can show you how it's done.

Speed and endurance play a factor here too.  A group that is drafting is going to be able to go both faster and further than the individuals in that group could go on their own.  A weaker rider can easily be taken along in a group with a higher pace if they are able to draft the faster riders.  Eventually those fast rides become more manageable, next thing you know you are taking your turn pulling up front.

The social aspect is pretty awesome.  It's been said many times that "Cycling is the new golf."  I completely understand that phrase now.  When riding in a group, positions change often and you'll find yourself riding next to someone new quite often.  So you get to chatting.  Then the group order will naturally change; before you know it you've just talked to 15 different people!  Riding together tends to help people bond quickly.  I can see why, when every ride is a story and the suffering is a shared experience.  You can't beat that for networking!

Nowadays I ride various paces and distances but I'm almost always in a group.  I still ride solo but it's gone from every ride to once every week or three.  As a friend of mine would say, group rides are ggrreeaatt!


  1. Group rides are awesome! I hadn't considered them 'addicting', but I think I'm an addict too!

    "Hi, my name's Colleen and I'm a group ride addict."

  2. Nice time laps of peoples bottoms. I've tried reaching out on other forums, ads even, to see if people with similar bike like mine, want to do a group thing and I never get a response. I don't think my kind of bike would be frowned on, by the "purist".

    1. I think it comes down to what sort of clubs are available.

      The club I'm in right now is mostly for road bikes. The video footage you see is a pretty loose formation just to teach people how to ride in a group. In the more advanced groups you need to get really close together; so people are expected to ride with drop bars.

      There does seem to be a e-bike club in the nearby town, but it seems to consist mainly of the scooter-style e-bikes. It also seems to consist mainly of the kind of rider who just never pedals. Probably not your cup of tea!

      I know Ottawa has a really big club, the OBC. They might have an e-bike division? I know they forbid kickstands in their group rides though (kickstand falls off during a group ride, can be lethal).

      If not them, maybe KNBC (Kanata Nepean Bicycle Club)? Apparently during their tours you don't have to be close enough to draft, so they might be cool touring around with you.

      Barring that, I don't see a lot in your area. You could always start a club, but it means putting a lot of time & effort in.