We’ve officially kicked off the Spring and Summer group rides at the Caffeinated Cyclist! The days are longer, and the temperatures are getting warmer, which means the amount of cyclists attending the rides will increase as the weeks go by. Other bike shops have also begun their own group rides as well, bringing more people to ride together and interact. It also helps bring traffic into their shops and build a larger customer base.
If you are new to cycling and have never ridden with a group before, chances are, there is a group ride for you. But with so many different options, how do you choose which group ride is right for you?
1) Ask Your Local Shop
At the Caffeinated Cyclist, we have five group rides to choose from. They range from moderate to advanced, with A, B or C designations to differentiate the speed of the ride. Depending on your ability, you can choose which ride works for you. Once you know what average speed you can comfortably ride at, then you can make your decision.
2) Talk To The “Regulars”
Most shop rides will have “regulars” or riders who are always on the group rides and are familiar with the way the ride operates. The “regulars” can be shop or club team riders, or riders who live nearby and participate in the ride for the sheer convenience. They know the roads or trails, where the biggest potholes are, and short cuts if there is ever an emergency. Talk to them before your next group ride so you can be more prepared for what’s up the road ahead.
3) Learn Basic Skills
Its important to practice some basic skills on your own before riding in a group. Riding in a straight line, for example, is an important skill to master. No one loves the company of squirrels, so master this skill quickly. Being able to control your bicycle speed, and anticipate problems while riding will help you ride more safely as well. You should also be alert for any activity around you such as traffic, road furniture, etc. Your peripherals will become your best ally while riding, so you use them!
4) Safety First
Before you set out on your first group ride, be sure to check your equipment. Has your bicycle been checked, or tuned up recently? Has your helmet been around since the Clinton administration? If so, you should replace it. Do you have front and rear reflectors or flashing lights if you are caught at dusk? Are you equipped with a flat tire kit if you puncture on the ride? Be sure to include all of these things in your pre-ride checklist to ensure your ride will be smooth and safe.
5) Just have fun
Remember, you love to ride your bike, and riding with others who enjoy it also is what makes cycling so much fun. You create bonds with people who at one time, were complete strangers, but your love for riding brought you together. It’s really remarkable how no matter what, each and every ride will be a completely different experience. Just remember to have fun while you’re out there, and enjoy the experience.