Cycling in a group can be significantly more challenging than riding alone, with people’s abilities often varying quite widely.
It can be difficult to achieve continuity during a group ride when you have beginners struggling to keep up with more experienced cyclists, but there are several ways you can benefit from either helping to lead the slower riders or working towards keeping up with the faster riders of the group.
Whether you’re professional, intermediate or beginner level, group cycling is an excellent way to stay healthy and enjoy the great outdoors.
Read on for our top five tips for enjoying successful group cycling.
Don’t be a hero
Not everyone is a potential Tour de France winner, and a cycling group is only as strong as its weakest member.
No-one will expect a newbie to lead the group from the outset, but when it is your turn don’t be tempted to overdo it.
Once you’ve reached the front of the pack stay there for 50 or 60 pedal strokes and then bow out gracefully, allowing someone else to take their place at the head of the group.
Stay safe and concentrate
You’re out on the roads or in the countryside with other people, so it’s important to make sure everyone watches each other’s backs throughout the ride.
Always wear the correct safety equipment and warn others if you see anything dangerous ahead.
Some people find listening to music motivates them whilst cycling, but if you have both headphones in your earsyou can’t hear the cars around you, the sounds of the street or other riders shouting warnings at you.
If you must have some entertainment on during a ride, leave one headphone out and listen quietly to the sports betting news.
Make sure you refuel
It can be easy to forget to keep your body fuelled as you try and focus on keeping up with your group. This can become a big mistake that may affect your performance during your ride.
Pack quick and easy and snacks that can be accessed quickly. You could place one or two gel packs into the legs of your shorts, providing a smooth transition from your hand to your mouth allowing you to keep pace with your group.
Stay hydrated by taking a full water bottle to maximise your enjoyment of your cycling.
Choose your pack position wisely
Picking a position that places you near to the front part of your group does give you an advantage. If someone at the front picks up the pace you’re in a much better spot to react quickly and stay in touch.
If you are a new rider, taking a back position can also be beneficial. A position towards the rear will allow you to have more space to manoeuvre and you will be able to think more clearly, rather than be affected by the hustle and bustle of being amongst the pack.
Don’t be afraid to admit your weaknesses
If you are no longer able to hold on to the front position, it’s unfair to make the other riders stay behind you – simply say ‘gap’ and move over. The rider who is behind you can take the lead, and you can work to get yourself back with the group ride.
Remember never to take being dropped by the group as a personal insult. Ultimately every rider has his/her limits and reaching them doesn’t make you a slacker.
Every cyclist has had to deal with being dropped at one time or another. Find out why it did not work out, and figure out what you can do to prevent it from happening next time.