Being the fastest rider and dropping everyone isn’t going to make you the most popular participant on a group ride. While drop rides are an entirely other matter where skill, speed and smarts can help you to show off your chops, group rides are meant to be fun for everyone.
While knowing and respecting the ride etiquette is important to ensure you are welcome by the group, doing things everyone appreciates could see you rising through the ranks to become one of the rides most respected riders. Here are nine guidelines to help you become one of the most respected and popular riders in the group:
1. Be friendly and welcoming
You probably remember rolling up to your first group ride and feeling a little shy and intimidated. A friendly smile can quickly change that feeling among new riders. When you spot someone new or who hasn’t been around for a while welcome them and introduce them to everyone else in the group.
2. Keep the ride fun for everyone
While the strongest riders may want to show off, there is a time and a place for that. If the ride turns into a hammer fest and people are falling off the pace it’s time to slow things down so everyone can enjoy the day. Make sure the pace the group is rolling at is acceptable for everyone and take the initiative when you see someone suffering to slow things down a bit.
3. Take solid and steady pulls
When you are at the front take a good solid pull if you are feeling strong. Everyone appreciates a steady wheel to follow especially into a headwind. A sure way to gain respect is to sit at the front for hours to give everyone else shelter from the wind but if you aren’t feeling up for that just make sure when you are at the front you don’t surge or ramp up the pace to a level some can’t keep up with.
4. Signal potholes and turns
To make sure everyone in the group is safe it’s important to let others know what they can expect from you. If you are constantly changing line, swerving or putting others at risk, fewer and fewer people will want to ride with you. Instead use hand signals and your voice. Debris on the road, potholes and cracks can all ruin someone’s day if they roll over them unaware so make sure to point them out. When cars are approaching make sure others know and if there is a turn always signal it.
5. Have an extra gel or bar for anyone that needs one
Being there to support riders who are struggling is a great way to gain respect. Bonks happen but if you hear someone talking about how they don’t think they have enough food it’s always nice to have an extra bar or gel in your pocket to offer them. If the dreaded bonk does happen make sure they have some fuel and keep their spirits up as you make your way back home.
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6. Help fix flat tires
Fixing a flat solo is a little longer than if you have an extra set of hands to pump up the tire or get a tricky tire off the rim. Be there to help others when they flat though don’t get involved if they are on top of it. Having a spare tube, a good mini-pup or some handy skills and tricks to help deal with minor mechanical can all be useful skills that will get you street cred on the group ride.
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7. Know the route
Knowing the area you are riding in and the route you are taking are always appreciated. This way you can keep the ride heading in the right direction and off rough, busy or undesirable roads. It’s also a good way to tell others less familiar with the area what to expect.
8. Be a mentor to those less experienced
If you have met some new people on the ride, offer to go out with them again and invite them to other rides you think are suitable to their skill sets. If they have questions about gear or training and you have relevant experience share it with them. If you think they can benefit from some of your advice remember to give it to them in a respectful and friendly way to make sure it is well received and absorbed.
9. Buy everyone a coffee
When the group rolls up to the coffee shop mid or post-ride, why not offer everyone a coffee or pastry on you? Though maybe save that offer for another time when you are just riding with one or two other people because everyone will surely take you up on that offer.