What you Should know Before your first Group Road Ride

Posted Jun 26th, 2016 in Cycling in Niagara, Sports and Recreation

What you Should know Before your first Group Road Ride

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If you are looking to join a group ride for the first time, whether it is for a charity event or a local club ride, there a few things to remember that will help make your experience enjoyable.


There are many benefits to road cycling solo, but cycling in a group can be fun as well. I don’t just mean riding with a friend, which has its own set of benefits, I mean getting out with four or more people. In a group you can get good pace going, there are sometimes multiple conversations going at the same time, and everyone takes turns pulling the pack. There is an energy about the ride that is unlike anything you can ever experience by yourself.

If you are looking to join a group ride for the first time, whether it is for a charity event or a local club ride, there a few things to remember that will help make your experience enjoyable.

  1. Make sure you know the expected speed, distance, and terrain of the ride before you show up. If it is a club ride, typically the club will have on their website the km/h and distance of each of the group rides, or at least a description of the style of riding. If not, contact the organization before the ride to find out what ride best suits your ability. If you aren’t sure how fast you can ride for the expected distance, start on the easiest ride and work your way up. If it is a friend who is inviting you to a ride with their buddies, make sure they let you know the group’s expectations. If the ride has a lot of hills in it, make sure you take into consideration that you will need more energy to get through that type of route than a flat ride. Everyone wants a good ride, and there is nothing more frustrating than having to always wait for a rider that consistently falls behind, or being the rider that is always playing catch up. If it is a charity event, there is a lot less pressure. Typically, charity bike rides will give you a map or have a group leader and sweep to help keep the ride together.

  2. Know if the ride is a ‘no-drop’ ride. A ‘no-drop’ ride means that no rider will be left behind, or at least that is the intent. Even if there is a ‘no-drop’ policy where people will wait for slower riders, it is still your responsibility to know the pace and length of the ride so can gauge whether or not you can keep up. When you are riding, pay attention to the riders ahead of you so that you can see when they are making a turn. Pay attention to the riders behind you to make sure they aren’t dropping off the group. If they are dropping off the back, let the ride leader know so they can slow down the pace and let them catch up. Keeping the group together is important so people don’t get lost or can see if someone has to stop because of a technical problem. Another benefit of riding in a group is that you have a variety of people that may be able to offer assistance with your technical repair if you need it. That brings me to the next point.

  3. Bring your own roadside tool kit and tube - The most common road cycling technical problem is a flat tire. At the very least make sure you bring a pump/CO2 cartridges adaptable to your road bike tubes, which are called presta valves, tire levers, and your own tube. It is very important that each rider has their own tube. You might be able to borrow a pump or tools, but no one wants to relinquish their tube in case they get a flat themselves. There are various tube sizes and valve lengths, so you want to make sure you have one that fits your rim. If you aren’t sure, take your wheel into the local bike shop and ask them what you need.

Related article: Getting Ready for the First Bike Ride of the Season

The photo included here was of riders on the 2nd annual Long Beach Ride in support of Big Brothers, Big Sisters of South Niagara that took place June 19th, 2016. I had the privilege of being on the committee and participate on the ride. I’m on the left, and my good friend Susan Gesner is beside me. Note – we are NOT riding in a draft formation. Susan and I have been friends for many years now and cycling is one of our favourite things to do together. A great way to meet people who enjoy your love of cycling is to join a club, or event. Cycling friends can last a lifetime. Thanks Susan for coming down from Caledon to join our ride!

Photo credit goes to Bob Hatcher, a professional photographer, who is talented at capturing memorable active-lifestyle moments.


Laura DunkleyLaura Dunkley

Passionate about cycling, wellness, and community, Laura was involved in the cycling industry for over 20 year; bike shop owner, sales rep for Shimano, mountain bike racing, and organizing community cycling events. Now living in Niagara with her family, Laura works as a marketing & communications consultant, and whenever possible, she is out exploring the beautiful roads and trails of Niagara on her road and mountain bike, and volunteers to support a couple local charity rides. She lends a helping hand whenever she can to help build a greener, healthier community here in Niagara.

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  • A great community service to keep everyone informed. Thank you for this!
    Louise M.

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