Road cycling is one of the fastest growing sports for women over the age of 40. Cycling is such an enjoyable and sociable form of exercise, and such a friendly sport. Whatever the catalyst that gets you started albeit charity ride or persuasive friends, there is one component of this social sport that can make or break your experience: The Group Ride.
The good group training ride, is where the heart of road cycling beats. It’s where riders are formed, where technique is learned, where friendships are made, where riders learn to look after one another.
The goal of group riding is to get in close proximity with others and to get used to the harder efforts required to keep up with the pack. It’s an opportunity to learn new skills, gain confidence and push beyond your usual limits.
Group riding can also benefit the more experienced riders and can be helpful in our training as “mini-race” efforts as they are often fun, competitive and create opportunity to build race skills. However, many new riders experience a phenomena known as Pelatonaphobia . AKA pack-riding anxiety – When your arms and shoulders lock up and your wheel get squirrelly any time a fellow rider comes within an arm’s length. This condition often results in nervous looks from fellow cyclists during group rides and frequently causes ungainly gaps to open.
The goal for riders is to become confident members of the peloton, not merely someone who is sort of fast on a bike. Membership is the point. Come on group rides if you are interested but most importantly willing to learn group riding skills and safety techniques. Good ride leaders (Domestiques) will help you learn new skills, encourage you to push your edge to stay with the pack and will ride next to you. Not only for support if need be but to find out a little about you. Your goals, skills, interests.
Here’s what you should expect to learn:
- To not wear underwear under your cycling shorts.
- To ride one handed.
- To ride in a straight line.
- To know when to ride single or double (if ever) pace line.
- To pull without surging.
- To hold your line and close the gap.
- To run rotating pace line drills and flick others through.
- To ride through the top of a climb.
- To hold your line in a corner.
- To stand up smoothly and not throw your bike back.
- To give the person ahead of you on a climb a little more room to stand up.
- To respect the yellow line rule.
- To point out significant road problems.
- To brake less, and soft pedal more, especially in a pace line.
- To follow the wheel in front and not overlap.
The ride leaders or Domestiques are serious about their roles, because the safety of the group depends on it. If you are interested in following along, learn group riding skills, become stronger, and make some fantastic like-minded friends, join a cycling club and be a part of something spectacular. The Peloton.