Hey there, been a while. Hope y’all are having a good summer. I sure am. Seemingly every week has featured a mini-vacation and I’ve been lucky enough to be able to bring a bike along most of the time.
When I first started riding, to get in on a group ride you actually had to know people. And those people had to invite you to join them. Now in the 21st century finding a group ride is as easy as typing “group rides in _______” into the Google and you’re all set. How to be a good new rider on a group ride.
I’ve had the opportunity to be the new guy on a lot of group rides this summer and being fully aware of how dickish roadies can be, I’ve found the best plan of attack is to not give any reason to justify being messed with.
That being said here are some tips to smoothly integrate yourself into an unfamiliar group.
1. Be on time and ready to ride. If you roll up in your rental car as riders are clipping in don’t you dare roll down the window and ask them to wait while you fish out your bike from the trunk. Good luck catching up. Shouldn’t be a problem though since you learned all you could about the ride and the route, right?
2. Be extra diligent about riding smooth and pointing out obstacles. The last thing an established group wants to add to their group is a squirrel. You can earn trust right away by holding your line and being quick to point out any potholes.
3. Be aware of the mood of the ride. If everyone is chatting, feel free to start making small talk. If everyone’s quite because the hammer is about to drop don’t start droning on just to break the silence.
4. Be self sufficient. Have everything you need in case of a flat, mechanical, or a bonk. In fact, it doesn’t hurt to bring along an extra tube or gel so that you can be the first to offer in case anyone needs something.
5. Don’t complain. Or point out what others are doing wrong. Seriously, you wouldn’t go into someone’s house and start rearranging their furniture, would you? Then don’t start telling total strangers how their fit is all wrong or how their choice of bike was a mistake. If you’re the guest on a group ride act like a guest and be gracious. If the pace is too slow, suck it up. You were the one who wanted to ride with others.
6. Unless a pissing contest is formally declared, the ride is not a pissing contest. You’re just going on a bike ride so don’t feel like you’ve just entered prison and need to take someone out to earn respect. Let the local studs be the local studs and let them fight out bragging rights among themselves. You know what you can do to really impress your fellow riders? Take a long pull when the conditions really suck. I took a three mile pull into a headwind that bridged the peloton up to a small breakaway a few weeks ago. Know what happened when the ride ended at the coffee shop?
Someone insisted on buying coffee and a muffin and said I was welcome to join them anytime.
You get that to happen and you’ve aced the new guy test.