Legal Disclaimer:

Legal Disclaimer: Cycling is an inherently dangerous sport. The responsibility for each riders safety, fitness and the soundness of his or her bicycle lies solely with each rider. No effort has been made to insure the safety of the roads chosen by any member of the group, nor have the routes been screened for road or other hazards and may not be the safest route available. No effort has been made to ensure that riders in the group possess any degree of skill and/or judgment. By either continuing to read this blog or participating in a ride each rider agrees to waive and release any claims against fellow riders or the route organizers or the blog author on behalf of themselves and their heirs and assigns. This waiver and release of any claims includes claims based upon the negligence of said fellow riders, route organizers and blog author.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Purpose Of A Group Ride

Evidently, there is no small amount of confusion as to the purpose of several cyclists riding together in a group. Therefore, in an effort to assure everyone is on the same page, please accept the following as a quiet talk across the dinner table by the loving father who never told you, or perhaps consider it a nickles worth of free advice from the rich uncle that never gave you anything.

Remember, the first and foremost purpose or goal of a group ride is to find and implement as many ways to assure that as many riders as possible will not want to return for a second ride with the group of regulars. Now to ensure this goal it is important do several, if not all, of the following on each group ride:

Ten Rules When Riding In A Group

1. Go to the front and hammer until the weaker riders get dropped.

2. Assure Number 1 is implemented especially in a headwind and uphill sections.

3. If Numbers 1 and 2 don't work, then jump off the front and ride about 50 meters ahead of the group so the weaker riders have to pull themselves, therefore greatly diminishing their chances of staying with the group.

4. Do not wait at turns on the route for those who have been dropped. This will guarantee they get lost and not want to ride with the regulars again.

5. When asked by the ride leader to slow down and wait for dropped riders, speed up so that there is no chance of the weaker ones ever catching up.

6. If, by some miracle, the weaker riders ever do catch up to the group, run through yellow lights or even red ones assuring that anyone who may be following your wheel will be struck by the first vehicle through the intersection. (In extreme cases, even go left of the center line, against traffic, and/or in between vehicles. Surely this will stop that ornery neophyte from staying with the group.)

7. Always remember: this is a race, not a ride! (If only in your own mind.) And, therefore surely excuses any of the above seemingly bad behavior. It's not bad as long as you win! So, never, ever consider any other rider's welfare. To act like that is nothing more than a sign of your weakness.

8. Never go back and pull the dropped riders up to the group! This is tantamount to being a good friend and every true cyclist knows a good friend finishes last in this race. (ride)

9. Always remember there are other riders sweeping up the dropped riders. Never volunteer to do such a menial task. Do not let it enter your thinking that they may be hurting and need a stronger rider's draft to get home. Ha...don't they have any idea how hard it was dropping them!

10. It's a free country, so do as you like at the expense of as many riders as possible. Hey, isn't that what riding in a group is all about...ME?! And it is absolutely not true the old proverb:

Freedom is not the right to do what you want,
Rather, freedom is the power to do what you ought.

Oh, that's deep. Better ponder that one a while.

Well, I'm so glad we had this little talk, aren't you? I sure wouldn't want any misunderstandings on your next group ride. You may even want to print this up and hang it on your refrigerator so you can review it a few times each week. Better yet, have it laminated and mount it on your handlebars as a handy reference guide so you will know exactly what to do the next time out with a group. I guarantee if you follow these ten rules of riding in a group, then you will fulfill the purpose of group riding and be the most popular rider...ever!

See you out on the road,


  1. For anyone interested, here is an article in USA Cycling about how everyone can benefit from a group ride. I for one think that group riding is very important for everyone wanting to improve the cycling skills.

  2. Prentiss,
    Good article. I especially appreciate the advice, "Relax and enjoy the ride!" I think that makes group riding that much more fun if I'm not looking at others as my competition for today. It's really a self-control issue isn't it? Although, from personal experience, I would have to say that pride plays a big role as well. Oooo...pride, isn't that one of those seven deadlies?!

    Hey, thanks for sending this in, it always helps to have several perspectives to any issue.

  3. I have received more emails in such a short time since writing this Group Riding post, from folks either agreeing or apologizing for the antics on yesterday's ride. Just to clarify; the intent of the post was just a sarcastic way of saying, "Look guys, it's just a bike ride, so let's ride safely and be considerate of others out there." Every so often we need to be reminded of this, that's all.

    I've tried to communicate this concern by others and myself to the group before without pointing out individual infractions. However, it has appeared as late to have fallen on deaf ears. In cycling, as in any sport, there are rules of the road, so to speak. This is especially true when we ride together as a group. If someone asks for the pace to slow a bit, then as a group, we slow a bit. If we need to wait at a turn in the route for a few others, then we wait. It's a group ride! The definition of a group ride is riding together as a group. Read the article Prentiss posted above. It gives some hints as to how riders of differing levels of fitness can enjoy riding together.

    Look, nobody wants to be the guy that has to say something like this to anybody. However, after yesterday's shananigans and especially the absolute craziness witnessed at the intersection of Navy and Barrancas, I knew something had to be said. And we wonder why motorists treat us the way they do. We cyclists are our own worse enemies!

    Remember, it's a ride, not a race. It matters not who finishes first. There are plenty of opportunities if you want to race. There is even a good team in our area you can train with. But, our Saturday morning rides are group rides, okay? That's how they are advertised and that is what riders are expecting. So, let's not have any more cutting through traffic, running red lights and the like. That may be appropriate when out on your own, but not in a group. Thanks guys!

    Perhaps someone else can say it next time!

  4. Hi Bob.

    You took on a tough job! I loved your post! I wasn't there for the antics but I have been on many a group ride where new people show up, blow the pace through the roof leaving people shattered (and lost on occasion), the group leader plays rodeo clown trying to get the regulars to just sit down/sit in/ and ride the regular pace. Thus leaving the "racers" to ride off into the sunset.

    I have ridden all over the world and nowhere other than in FL does it seem to be acceptable to cross the center line and run traffic signals than in Florida - from my experience. I have dubbed the training ride in St.Pete as "Weekend Worlds". Forget about it if the guys from Tampa show up - there will be carnage all over the road because, as you know, if you're not rubbing - you're not racing. I mean riding. Every ride has its purpose, but a ride should never ever become dangerous for anyone. Like you said, it is just bike riding.

    It's all good. Season is just around the corner and I am sure people are feeling froggy - it happens. Thanks for the gentle reminder about the purpose of the group ride.

    I liked the sarcasm - this is an issue that has plagued group rides from time to time and I think your sarcasm was a great way to make people laugh, address the situation, and get their attention. Although, I could see how a person who doesn't see the sarcasm in this situation as funny.

    I applaud you, as one of the people who probably would have been shelled off the back, for taking a stand for the group. For welcoming people who would like to come and ride the groups ride, not their own ride with the group. And for welcoming EVERYONE to ride.

    The USAC article was a good one - lets just all ride bikes and be friends!

  5. Below is an email I sent to Bog in response to this blog post. The real point to the email and in sharing as a comment here is that most of us consider each other friends and value the friendship that we share.


    Not quite what I was expecting; it's sure to raise some eyebrows.

    I've been thinking about the ride since the end of it. I feel bad about
    leaving you and Tim on Barrancas, but I had wanted to catch up with John
    Duke, and I think the two of us wanted to catch the front group. Wasn't
    meant to be. In retro-spec I should have hung with you two.

    But then, it was really the front riders going through the yellow arrow onto Barrancas. I thought that must be it. I was shocked to see one rider making the left riding on the left into traffic. I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

    But then, there was a request on 98 heading east to slow down the pace a
    bit; it never did. I never was sure from where the request was coming from and for whom.

    But then, there was the split immediately after the first rest stop when we didn't see the front group until the 2nd rest stop.

    But then, there was that bit you were telling that some of the riders didn't want to wait for dropped riders after turning onto 98 off of Lillian. I for one ( a dropped rider) am glad the group slowed a bit so that I could catch up.

    This brings me to my point of my email. The last thing I want to do is upset you because I regard you as my friend and I really enjoy riding with you. So if I did upset you, I am sorry. Like I said earlier, I've been thinking about this since the end of the ride. Your friendship is important to me.


  6. Uh oh...nobody is upset with anybody. I just thought after what was witnessed it was time for a reminder. We all need reminders on a regular basis, right? It's why we have calendars, laptops and smart phones. In the past, the reminder was communicated in black and white. This time I thought to use a bit of, "reverse psychology" with a dash of sarcasm to make the pill a little easier to swallow.

    Love the comments and emails though...keep 'em coming! It appears that this is something that just about everyone has an opinion. This is good stuff and good for cycling!

    See you out on the road,

  7. I think there is a lot of herd mentality. You have a nice paceline going at a comfortable pace. Rider X picks up the pace or takes off, a majority of the riders follow. The weaker are dropped and left to fend for themselves. I’ve been sucked into that scenario on many a group ride. I may have even been the cause on occasion. The problem is often exacerbated by Rider X's attack lasting about 300 meters and being done. He’s cooked, riders are off the back, a paceline of 12-20 is shattered and now everyone is fending for themselves. Regarding traffic lights "Don't be a lemming." :-)