If you are sick and tired of spinning your bike wheels inside or bored with the solitude of solo cycling, then it’s time to hit the roads, streets and trails and join group riding. Cyclists of all levels will benefit a unique group energy that welcomes, entertains and motivates. Together you’ll improve fitness, push limits of distance and tackle terrain you never thought you’d attempt.
Remember, a group ride is NOT a race and a smart rider is as valuable to the group as a strong rider. To ensure a safe and pleasant experience, group riding requires proper etiquette and technique.
To start, you need to find the proper group. Novices should begin in a ‘no-drop’ group. Here, no rider is ever ‘dropped’ or left behind as an experienced rider is always near the back. As you advance, a ‘drop-in’ group may be your next option. Here, a specific goal such as distance or quicker pace may be the group’s challenge. Finally, very experienced riders form an ‘elite’ group, where times and speeds are often pushed to the limit.
A group rider will learn to ride parallel with edge of the road and form a straight ‘pace line’ directly behind other riders. A novice should aim for a 3-foot distance, while experienced cyclists can maintain a 6 to 12 inch gap. Riding in this fashion allows riders to create a ‘slipstream’ or ‘drafting’ effect. In theory, the lead rider creates an area of less wind resistance for the trailing riders, who can benefit an energy savings of up to 30 percent. Each group member takes a turn as lead rider to maximize the effect.
Communication is vital for a group ride. A group rider should never wear headphones or ear buds. Always keep your eyes and ears open for either visual or verbal signals from the riders up ahead.
Euro-Sports is Ottawa’s foremost retailer of premium cycling and triathlon products. For cyclists of all levels, it’s the best place to start if you are looking for a road or mountain bike group ride. For more information, visit www.euro-sports.ca.