First Group Ride

Ujamaflip

New Member
Yesterday I went on my first group ride with some guys from my local bike shop. When I bought my bike from there earlier this year, a Koga Miyata Carbon Team Edition, I joined their mailing list and I've received a few invitations this year, but this was the first time I was both available, fit and confident enough to want to take part, so I turned up at the bike shop at 2pm as required. The LBS owner had planned a road bike ride for us through Alsace, together with Koga Miyata Cycling Team rider Martina Zwick on one of her training rides.

Despite a red hot summer this year the weather over the last few days has been dreadful. Yesterday morning it had been raining hard, but around lunch time it cleared up and fortunately it stayed dry for the whole afternoon. At the LBS we were joined by a couple of other riders and made our way to another meeting point by the Rhein. I explained to the LBS owner and leader of the ride that it was my first time riding with a group, on the way he explained the rules, hand signals and throughout the whole ride made me feel welcome and comfortable.

At the Rhein meeting point we met up with Martina and a few other riders, in all we were eight riders. We cycled on the flat for a while along a lovely new cycle lane South along the Rhein, before breaking West through some beautiful Alsatian countryside and little French villages. Through Alsace we encountered a few hills but nothing really serious. It was a beautiful route, and although I've ridden through Alsace before I've never seen this part.

We rode faster and harder than I probably would have ridden alone, averaging about 27kph (16.8mph) over the 90km route. Although drafting helped some of the time I wasn't confident enough to get really close to the other riders, but being with other riders helped motivate me to keep a good pace. I had a p*ncture about 2 hours in to the ride but the other guys pitched in and we had the tube changed in minutes, seems like my tubes were under-inflated at around 5-6bar, needing a good 8bar to resist a snakebite flat.

We finished the ride after about 3.5 hours with a trip to the local beer garden. I had a great a time and will be back with the guys next time they organize a ride.
 

hotmetal

Senior Member
Location
Near Windsor
I had a similar experience the first time I joined a group that leaves from Denham (Bucks) on a Saturday morning.
I am reasonably fit having been into mountainbikes for ages, but was new to road cycling, and found it all slightly intimidating at first, especially with the whole business of riding half-a-wheel-length off the rider in front and hoping they point out the potholes! There was no official pre-ride briefing as such but they were friendly and gave me pointers as to where I should be and what to look for. On one occasion I suffered a p*****re and they all stopped to help. I have subsequently joined the faster of the two groups who currently do a 19mph ave over 50 miles, and I am kind of borderline in this group, but rather than drop me, they have actually given me a little push from behind up one or two hilly bits! The faster group are a bit more serious and the pace can get very fast depending on who's in front, but despite this they will cut you a little bit of slack and are generally friendly and helpful, sharing their years of race experience with a relative noob. I still get a bit nervous when the pace picks up and the pack is tight, but it certainly motivates you to ride faster than you would/could alone. No beer gardens for the fast group though – on a couple of occasions after a hard 50 miles I've been dropped about 3 miles before the end, and most of them have gone by the time I arrived back. Note to self: train harder! The more mellow group however (16.5-17mph ave) have been known to stop for a nice cup of tea and a bacon butty in Maidenhead…

Not quite the scenery you enjoyed though. The only beautiful Alsatian anything on our rides is a dog on a farm…
 
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Ujamaflip

Ujamaflip

New Member
Great to hear from somebody with a similar story to my own! And good to hear that the group are pushing you - if you keep that up I'm sure you'll be setting the faster pace soon enough!

I know what you mean about some people at the front setting a fast pace though. Shortly before we returned to our home city we dropped a couple of members who lived on the other side of the river. After that it seemed like our group leader hadn't worked out enough and was really pushing the speed. A bit of a gap grew between a couple of us at the back and him at the front but we kept up pretty well, and when I looked down at how fast we were going I was pretty shocked, speeds I was only used to see on the downhill!

I can definitely recommend cycling in a group. It's a lot different to cycling solo where you really set your own pace. It's nerve-wracking at first but in my experience the group were friendly, welcoming and helpful and it was a fun experience.
 
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