Help with unwritten group ride rules
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  1. #1

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    Help with unwritten group ride rules

    As a new rider, I’ve been in group rides only about 10 times. I understand the basics of riding in a group, but there appears to be many unwritten rules. In this morning’s ride, I decided to try to stay with the fast group, ouch. I was always in the last 4 or 5 riders, and the speed varied from about 23 to 27 mph, depending on who was pulling. I was able to hang on for 13 miles before getting dropped. At the SAG, some of the guys were talking about these unwritten rules, which got me thinking. The folks I wanted to talk to were long gone by the time I finished the 54 miles.

    I understand it isn’t appropriate to never take a turn pulling. In my case, there is no way I could get to the front, much less pull at that pace. This being the case, should I stay out of the group entirely?

    One complaint was about jumping around guys in the line. When is it appropriate to pass a rider and move up in the pace line? From the conversation, I get the feeling this should only be done if you get waved around or there is a gap that is getting larger meaning part of the group is falling off.

    When going up hills, is it okay to pass, or should you maintain the line? Also, when going down hill, is it okay to pass, or should you use your breaks to stay in line? Should you ever wait for part of a group, or is this considered bad form. Two of us on the front (after I joined the second, slower group) ended up about 200yards ahead of the pack after a climb. Is there a reason to wait or not wait for the rest of the group? I would think you’d wait for the group to form up again, but the other guy said we should move on.

    Thanks in advance for the help. I never realized group rides were such a blast!

  2. #2
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    If the group is large enough, it is likely there will be at least one rule fascist present- he will make comments about anyone with aero bars (even if they aren't used), worry about someone's frame pump falling off, and make a huge fuss over how pulling occurs or should occur.

    I've never seen a ride where everyone was expected to pull- unless it was specifically a paceline training ride. Secondly, the jury seems to be out on the proper way to end a pull- some guys suddenly pull way out into traffic (to the left), others to the right if there is a wide shoulder- and some signal, some don't. Even the wind can dictate how this occurs if an echelon has formed. Waiting seems to vary by group- some rides tend to behave like anything goes races- they won't even stop for a flat- but I think a ride worth riding will wait up for stragglers, providing everyone is in relatively the same riding level.

    Don't let a few loudmouths cause you to question your riding. Unless there were major safety issues involved, the complaining rider was trying to exert his sense of superiority over the other riders. Make a mental note that he's damaged goods and put him on your ignore list ;)

  3. #3
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    m2˘

    Quote Originally Posted by MooseJuice
    Thanks in advance for the help. I never realized group rides were such a blast!
    In general, if the majority of riders are faster than you and they know you, ordinarily they won't mind you being pulled; but if you can maintain their pace for 13m, then they may feel that you should do some of the work; even if it's only for a few, short times....another situation would be if they are in a 'hot dog' mode and just want to go as fast as the pack can......if you were to take the lead, that might just slow them down.......passing in a pace-line should only be necessary if the rider in front of you is not keeping their position constant (I know some riders that will consistently fall back, then sprint to get back into position....and they do this over and over again....if you're behind this type of rider, he/she will wear you to a frazzle)

    Passing on climbs or descents? Play it by ear, but (IMHO) if you intend to do so, you should announce your intentions (eg. "coming up on your left")....this may prevent a collision

  4. #4
    Old enough to know better
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    Quote Originally Posted by MooseJuice
    As a new rider, I’ve been in group rides only about 10 times. I understand the basics of riding in a group, but there appears to be many unwritten rules. In this morning’s ride, I decided to try to stay with the fast group, ouch. I was always in the last 4 or 5 riders, and the speed varied from about 23 to 27 mph, depending on who was pulling. I was able to hang on for 13 miles before getting dropped. At the SAG, some of the guys were talking about these unwritten rules, which got me thinking. The folks I wanted to talk to were long gone by the time I finished the 54 miles.

    I understand it isn’t appropriate to never take a turn pulling. In my case, there is no way I could get to the front, much less pull at that pace. This being the case, should I stay out of the group entirely?

    One complaint was about jumping around guys in the line. When is it appropriate to pass a rider and move up in the pace line? From the conversation, I get the feeling this should only be done if you get waved around or there is a gap that is getting larger meaning part of the group is falling off.

    When going up hills, is it okay to pass, or should you maintain the line? Also, when going down hill, is it okay to pass, or should you use your breaks to stay in line? Should you ever wait for part of a group, or is this considered bad form. Two of us on the front (after I joined the second, slower group) ended up about 200yards ahead of the pack after a climb. Is there a reason to wait or not wait for the rest of the group? I would think you’d wait for the group to form up again, but the other guy said we should move on.

    Thanks in advance for the help. I never realized group rides were such a blast!

    This is how it goes down on our group ride. We are all racers for our local team so its a race training ride. We usually have anywhere from 8-15 riders, some with aero bars some without. We all take turns pulling, if we are able. This is my first season on the race team and i admit i do still get dropped. Riding as a Cat 5 with a bunch of Cat 3's is tough but i do what i can when i can. Everyone in our group knows everyone else, their experiance level and what they can or cannot do. I never get yelled at if i cannot take a pull and when i can they usually are very happy. Groups rides can be fun provided the people you are with are not Asses or think they are the next gift to cycling. While we ARE training we are still having a good time, its fun and if your group dosnt remember its fun then i would find another group. Overall just make sure you dont take anyone out, thats the most important rule and just learn as you go.
    Safe riding.

  5. #5
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    Every ride has it's own rules.

    Some rides are "no mercy", some wait for riders at appointed places. Some obey all traffic rules, some use stop signs to attack from. If a club or team organize the ride, they make the rules. If you don't like their rules, find another ride. The first time on a new ride, it's always best to sit back and watch what others do, and watch where the sprint zones are. If it's not your ride, and you get yelled at, don't get all defensive, or don't break down and cry. Learn the rules of the ride. It may take 3 or 4 rides before you know when and where to do something.
    Ps. Never-ever crash in front of the ride leader.
    If your opinion differs from mine, ..........Too bad.
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  6. #6

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    Thanks!

    Thanks for the advice. For the most part, common courtesy and manners would seem to do the trick. So far, I've managed not to get a severe tongue-lashing, but there have been a few close calls where I haven't correctly predicted what others would do and almost clipped a wheel. I especially like the advice on not crashing in front of the ride leader! Thanks again.

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