Springwood Cycling Club
As you improve in your cycling, at some point, you may want to test your skills against others. And rather than jump right into a race, you can join a group of other riders. If you don’t have 6 friends ready to take off for 4 hours on a Saturday morning, there’s usually a local bike club as an option.
Bike clubs come in different shapes and sizes. Some are hard-core and others are more friendly to noobs like us. They usually have websites that contain descriptions of their rides and the skills needed to join them. Many clubs have different levels based on the average speed you can maintain, like 16-18, 18-20, and 20+ mph. Keep in mind that you can typically ride a few MPH faster in a group than you can alone, which is also why group riding is fun.
The craziest group ride I’ve been on is a local one called the Bullet Train in the club called “Monsters in the Basement”, a friendly club here in nearby Concord, MA. We achieved a crazy 25mph average over 30 miles. I’m lucky to average 20 solo, on my best day.
Don’t be afraid to show up and give it a try.
What’s it Like?
Here’s what an actual group ride looks like. I happened to be on this ride. I’m in the blue helmet and black and yellow kit. Coincidentally, that’s me on the video image, and you can see me at about 30 minutes in after taking a corner.
Not that you should watch the entire hour-plus of this ride, but there are some interesting things to see in it. We start out in the dark, at 5:30 am. You can see the dynamics of a fast group ride with lots of uphills and downhills.
This particular ride is FAST. It’s a “drop-ride”, which basically means that it’s cooperative, but if you fall off the back, they’re not waiting for you at the top of the hill. It certainly adds some urgency to the ride and keeps you pushing hard or you’re on your own.
Most club rides are “no-drop”, which means the group will stop at important points to let people catch up. So if this looks scary, this isn’t necessarily typical. It’s about as hard as they are likely to get.
Also, this is historic Concord, MA of Revolutionary War fame, which may be interesting to those of you from around the world.
Holy cow, that video is cool.
It was taken with a Garmin Virb Elite, which not only takes video, but it connects to other ANT+ devices and/or your Garmin 500 or 800 cycling computers to sync up all of your ride stats and get those cool dashboard graphics.
This Looks Dangerous!
Well, cycling is dangerous. And riding in a group has its own risks. There are definitely more crashes in a group. When a rider in a paceline hits the wheel of the rider in front of him, he’s probably going to go down.
I’ve crashed once at speed and walked away with just some bruises. Others aren’t so lucky with broken collar bones and dislocated shoulders, or worse. Most crashes that I see or hear about end in only scrapes and bruises, which is good news because if you ride a lot, especially in groups, chances are you’re going to go down at some point.
On the other hand, group riding can be safer as you’re easier for motorists to see.
What Club Should You Join?
There are clubs everywhere, and they are becoming more and more popular every year. You should be able to find one near you. Ask around and keep your ears open for people talking about it. Look at the kits other cyclists are wearing as clubs usually have branded kits for their members to buy.
Also, here’s a great post by someone in my local club, who also has a cycling blog, about cycling clubs…
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