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Group Rides: Fun. Community. Activity.

Get out and ride!


Jul 13, 2017 by Marty B

Group bike rides are pretty amazing. If you have never been on a group ride, as they are generally called, you should add it to your to do list. It can be intimidating going on your first group ride, so we wanted to take a few minutes and share some of the most common questions about going on your first group ride. 

  • Am I ready for a group ride?
    You are ready. There are all kinds of group rides. From road cycling (often called club rides) to casual group rides, there are a variety of rides that are available and being organized in most areas. Some rides are designed for enthusiasts who are more in the performance category and some designed completely for casual biking. You should ask or read a bit about the ride before going, anything above a 15MPH range is typically going to index higher towards the performance category of cycling. 

  • What happens when the weather doesn't cooperate? 
    Most rides have a policy. Check with the ride organizer, but they are often something like, “if foul weather is imminent during or at the start of the ride, we'll cancel or reschedule”. More importantly, ride to your ability and comfort.

  • What about helmets and safety equipment?
    Follow best practices always. However, some rides require safety equipment, including helmets and lights. Some states, including Ohio, require a bell on your bike to be considered “legal” to ride on the street. If it's a night ride, consider lights as “required”. 

  • What should I take on a ride? 
    Typically, a patch kit (for a flat) or extra inner tube and water should suffice for many rides. Generally, if you're on a larger ride someone will have an air pump with them, if in doubt, bring your own. However, if you don't own an air pump, someone will most likely have one that you can use. Be sure to arrive at the ride with air in your tires.

  • What is a no-drop ride? 
    This means that people will typically wait up for the slowest rider or pack of riders. In essence, they won't be dropped from the ride. 

  • I am worried about the speed of the ride. Or will I make it? 
    An easy rule of thumb is if the ride is sub-20 miles and no more than 12-15mph, just about anyone can ride that. If you're going above that speed amount or if there are numerous hills involved, bets are off. Do some digging. 

  • How to see if you're a fit for the ride? My favorite answer… 
    I recommend finding their Facebook page, event page or other social outlet. Look at the pictures. Do these people look casual or performance oriented? If you're asking the question if you're fit to participate, you're probably looking more on the casual side. Often local bike shops will organize or participate in rides, if that's the case, give em' a call (like on the phone) and ask them about the ride. If you see a stream of road bikes, spandex and cycling computers, you may have your answer. 

  • Speaking of local bike shops. 
    They often organize rides themselves. It's both a labor of love and marketing tool. Bike shops are great sources of information for the ride. Quite often, you'll see their rides on Strava (or online). If you're concerned, you could ask them if their ride is available on Strava before hand and ride the route before joining the group. This way you can ride the route and be sure of your fitness ability before joining the group. 

  • What are the benefits of group rides. 
    There are a ton of benefits to a group ride. First, there is safety in numbers. People won't miss a group of people going for a ride. Second, you don't have to worry about the route itself someone else has figured it out. Third, if it's casual, it's also social. You can meander through the group and discover new people, stories and friends. One of the gentlemen I met on a ride has an online bamboo underwear business. Seriously, where else can you say that. 

  • Is it a family friendly ride? 
    There are numerous rides that are on the street that are group rides and family friendly. Family friendly doesn't mean safe. It means that children are welcome and should ride like the rest of the group. Parents have to parent. The group is not responsible for the safety of the children on the ride. 

  • What if I don't feel safe on a group ride? 
    Bail. It's that simple. For whatever reason if you don't feel safe on a ride, do not participate or exit the ride as gracefully as you can. Be sure to let someone on the ride, ideally an organizer, that something came up. You'll want to do that so they do not end up waiting for you somewhere (if it's a no drop ride).

  • What else should I know? 
    My favorite advice would be to read this guide from the City of Cincinnati. Follow the law. If there's one exception to following the law specifically, it might be around corking. If you're wondering about corking.

  • Where can I find out about group rides around my area? 
    Do some Googling. You'll quickly find groups in your area that host and conduct rides. You might consider starting with your local bike shop too. They'll know a lot about the ride types and the profile of the riders as well. 

Don't let group rides be intimidating! Group rides are a great way to spend time being active, meeting new people and doing something awesome (like riding bikes). It builds better communities because when people see others riding bikes it gives them permission to do engage in the activity. It'll only take one ride and you'll be hooked. 

P.S. If you're in the Cincinnati area, you should download Physi and join one of our rides. Physi rides are typically no drop, community style rides that are suitable for everyone.

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