Updated: Oct 19, 2020
The cycling group ride scene has always fascinated me. Ironically, they're called 'group rides' but the gatherings are rarely anything of the sort. My first group ride experiences were hammer-fests with the clear intention of NOT being in a group. The original idea must have been the group of cars and bikes pulling into the parking lot BEFORE the ride even started.
I must’ve agreed with the concept as I kept showing up every week. For years I’ve rolled up silently and pretty much stayed to myself. Some might say I am anti-social. This is possible, I am pretty introverted and quiet. However, I’ve always been fascinated listening to the...
"TOP GUN-Style Pre-Talk”
“Yeah, I was in the lead group last week but then I cramped up.”
“Yeah, I may not be strong tonight, I rode 110 miles at lunch.”
“Yeah, I made the final split 2 weeks ago, but my beet juice supplement faded on me.”
“Hey, is that 105? What are you doing here?”
“Hey is that Ultegra? You better hang on, this ride is for fast people.”
“Kool wheels, couldn’t afford carbon, huh?”
“Yeah, I would have won 3 weeks ago, but my shifter broke and I had a cough."
“Dura-Ace huh? Was Di2 back-ordered?”
To me, this kind of banter seems unnecessary. What if you were new to the ride? What if you couldn’t afford carbon? It could feel intimidating or exclusive. To solve this, I always try to scan the group and look out for a new face or someone who looks unfamiliar with the scene. To make them feel welcomed and included.
Then comes the group's pre-roll visual assessments:
That girl was strong last week. I will stay close to her.
That guy knows the route - look for him when I get lost.
That girl will not drop me this week - I put extra walnuts in my oatmeal this morning.
That guy’s wife just had a baby, no sleep - he’s mine.
Got em’ - that guy has a body built for sprinting - that’s my lead out wheel.
That guy is lean like me - he’ll be my climbing buddy.
After the ride is over is when I like to visit. Its my ritual to stay afterwards and have a coffee or a beer with the group and laugh about what just went down.
I don’t think this type of thing only goes down in my city. All over America and more than likely happening as you read this. Forget the hype, don’t be afraid… just remember to be yourself. Have fun out there. You share a passion with this group. You can learn from each other or simply enjoy the view.