Triathlon is an individual sport, and training can get lonely. Group rides are a great way to get in some miles, and meet some new people. Also, riding with others slightly faster than you will improve your fitness.
Here are some tips on finding a group ride:
Finding a Group
Do a quick Google search for bike shops, and clubs in your area. Most bike shops have weekly group rides that leave from the shop. On their website, there is usually a section that shows ride times, and routes. Also, local bike/tri clubs will have weekly rides. Send the club an email and ask about rides, and express your interest. Most groups are happy to have new riders.
When you find a group ride listing there will be a pace posted with it, usually denoted by a letter. Here’s a quick breakdown of the letters and paces:
- C Pace – 16 mph – Usually no one will be left behind
- B Pace – 16 – 20 mph
- A Pace – 18 – 22 mph
- A+ Pace 22+ mph
Groups may vary from these paces. Check with the group leader before the ride to determine the pace. Also, be sure you are comfortable with the pace they are riding. If you can’t hold the pace, and start to ride erratically, it can cause issues for the rest of the group.
Know the Route
Issues arise when you are out on the roads. In case you are dislodged from the group be sure you are familiar with the roads. Most groups rides have a cue sheets available with the route, or it may be available on a website. It is your responsibility to have a general idea of the roads. It is also a good idea to bring your cell phone.
Many groups have been riding together for years, and being the new person can be intimidating. The best way to deal with this is to be friendly and introduce yourself to other riders. Find out who is the group ride leader and introduce yourself. Most groups are happy to have new people, and will be willing to help you out.
When you get back to the parking lot, don’t just throw your bike on the rack, and roll. Hang out and chat with other riders. I have met some really interesting and wonderful people on group rides. After a ride most people are feeling good, and its a great time to make new connections.
Local charity rides are a great way to get introduced to group riding. These rides are very beginner friendly. Check the web for charity rides happening in your area. If it is a big event, these rides will also have training rides leading up to the event. Below are a couple of links to some large national charity rides>
Bike MS – Bike MS is national ride to fund MS research.
Tour de Cure – TdC has rides in 44 states to raise money for diabetes research. They will also have training rides leading up to the event.