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TRIA Orthopaedic Center Your Cycling Blog

Cycling Clubs (and other addictions)

March 20, 2009

At its best, cycling is a social activity. Sure, you can go out there and grind along by yourself. More often than not (e.g. commuting, training), that’s what makes the most sense. Seasoned riders know from experience that cycling is the most satisfying when you’re riding with a group of like-minded roadies.

The easiest way to find these rides is to join a club. Most clubs host group rides and many are open to non-members. But finding the right club and the right ride can be hit or miss. Some of these rides are really mock races, blowing stop signs and dropping newbies (and even regulars) like a bad habit. Other rides use bicycles as a means for getting from one Dairy Queen to the next.

So, how do you find the club (and ride) that’s right for you?

Ask around at bike shops. Unlike McDonald’s (where the workers are in it for the glory), people who work at bike shops are almost always passionate cyclists. No one bike shop will know every club and every ride, so ask around at a few. Tell them what kind of rides you’re looking for and you’ll likely get some great suggestions. And maybe buy some Sports Beans or something, so you aren’t just begging for free advice.

If the clubs publicize their rides as open to non-members, you can just show up. If they don’t, you can contact the club and ask. Introduce yourself when the group gathers and ask if it’s an open ride. Even if you already know that it is, asking is an ice breaker.

And then see how it goes. If it’s a great fit, join the club. If it isn’t, try a different one. Once you join a club, be active. Do their rides and participate in their functions. The club is your gateway into the cycling subculture.


Group Riding: Stick With the Plan

March 14, 2009

Does this sound familiar?

Your group ride started out at an easy pace. Pretty soon, one of the stronger riders makes his way to the front and picks the pace up. Your little ego demon says “he’s not faster than me,” so you follow suit. So does everyone else. The dance continues until a stop sign or red light kills the momentum. Pretty soon, everyone’s heart rate is pegged out, white knuckles threatening to bend the handlebars and you’re left coughing up little bits of your lungs.

What does everyone says in the parking lot before the ride starts?

“Easy ride today?”

This group delusion was followed by “I’m toast from yesterday’s century”, “I haven’t been on by bike in a week”, “Today’s a recovery day” or “I’m tapering.” From Jump Street, the complaints are indicative of strong legs. No one ever laments about having fresh legs before a ride.

What would have happened if one person (just one) had said “Hey, dude, back ‘er down. This is an easy day” when that first knucklehead started the speed demonry? Everyone would have given a deep sigh of relief, because they needed an easy day. Rarely do groups have big enough egos to stray from impressing new riders. Asking to have an easy day is seen as a sign of weakness. The group think is usually “ride alone if you want to ride easy.” Hardly.

Easy rides are an essential part of training. You can only ride really hard on hard days if you’re rested. If you ride hard on days that are supposed to be easy, all you’ll manage on the hard days is to ride a little (but not much) harder.

If you want to be fast, keep your easy days really easy so that you can make your hard days really hard.

And what do you do if the dude that amps it up doesn’t slow down when asked? Before the ride starts, agree that anyone who amps it up will be ignored. Then, when Mr. Macho picks up the pace, tell everyone “let him go.”

The fool will ride up the road alone.

David Laporte