If you’re fairly new to cycling or tend to ride solo, you might be understandably nervous about signing up to a group ride. Don’t worry though, us Chillees are really friendly and welcoming and, with group sizes currently restricted, it’s the perfect time to get use to riding with others in a smaller and more manageable bunch.
It’ll motivate you to ride
If you like riding on your own, you’ll love riding with a group of like-minded cyclists. Knowing that alone will give your motivation a real boost but so will the thought of the good natured ribbing you’ll take from your new mates if you don’t roll up.
The kilometres pass far quicker in a bunch – chat, laughter, banter and putting the world to right are all part and parcel of a decent group ride. You also know that you’ll be meeting people with at least one thing in common with you so some new mates are practically guaranteed.
A group of cyclists is far more visible than a solo rider meaning you’ll be more noticeable to, and given a wider berth by, other road users. If you’re joining a ride with some more experienced riders, such as our HotChillee Ride Captains, their skills, knowledge and positioning sense will keep you safer. You’re also not going to get stranded either as there will always be someone on hand to help you sort a puncture or any other mechanical issues.
Along with the psychological boost of being in a group and the kilometre munching distraction of chat, riding with others is physically easier. Sitting behind another rider, with them punching through the air, means you can push your pedals up to 30% less and still stay with them.
It’ll improve your cycling skills and knowledge
Riding with, talking to and copying more experienced riders is the best way to fast-track your development as a cyclist. You’re also almost guaranteed to be shown some new roads and trails.
What to expect from group rides
Whether it’s one of our group rides, with a local club or something a bit less organised, here’s a bit of a heads-up about what to expect from a group ride.
Not all group rides are equal
Is it a social spin, skills focused, no-drop, a fast paced chain-gang, road or gravel? Get in touch with whoever is organising the ride, be honest about your experience, ability and equipment and get as much information as possible.
If you aren’t that familiar with the area, especially if you’re driving and having to park and get your bike out of the car, allow yourself plenty of time. You don’t want to be rushing and stressed and really should be aiming to be ready to ride 15 minutes before the advertised set-off time. This’ll allow you to introduce yourself, listen to any pre-ride briefing and be relaxed as you roll off. There’s normally five minutes or so grace given for any latecomers but don’t risk it.
Not all group rides will have a briefing and, if there isn’t one, don’t hesitate to ask the ride leader or a more experienced rider how the ride will be structured and if there’s anything you need to know. If you’re new to group rides, don’t be shy, let people know and they’ll look after you.
Listen to what the Ride Captain or ride leader says and follow any instructions they give you. If you’re unsure about how to position yourself, ask for some pointers and maybe ride near to the back so you can observe what happens.
On the ride
Watch, learn and if there’s anything you don’t understand, ask. Riders in the group will use hand signals and shouts to pass on information and, although these can seem a bit bewildering to start with, you’ll quickly pick them up. Stay relaxed, don’t grab your brakes, avoid overlapping wheels and you’ll soon get into the flow or the ride.
Even though it might be a takeaway these days, many group rides will involved a café stop so make sure you have a card, a mask and, in case it’s a bit chilly and you have to sit outside, a lightweight gilet or a windproof.
There’s always a bit of a chat at the end of a group ride and, more often than not, plans made for the next one. Don’t shoot off without saying your goodbyes and don’t hesitate to ask the Ride Captain or ride leader for some feedback and if they have any take home tips for you.