If you’re like most cyclists, then riding alone is the default when you first start riding. If you’re not competing, racing or part of a club, the easiest thing to do is to get on your bike when you feel like it and ride for as long as you want. You might push the distance every now and then, but basically you ride for the joy of solo excursions; the freedom to let your thoughts wander, to let your legs dictate the pace, and to go in any direction that you want.
But if all you do is ride alone, eventually you’ll realize that you’re not growing much as a cyclist – without the challenge and camaraderie of riding with other people, you can quickly fall into a rut!
So it’s time to join a group ride, but that can seem like an intimidating experience. Will you be fast enough? Are there some secret rules you don’t know? Is your bike good enough? Do you have the right gear? Will you be secretly judged, or dropped, or worse?
In some ways, joining a new group ride can seem like the first day at a new school. And just like school, once you get over that initial apprehension, you’ll find out that it’s not so bad, after all. Sure, there will be people there with much more expensive bikes, flashier kits, and legs that look like they could dish out some serious hurt. But usually you’ll find that everyone is friendly and nobody will comment on your bike or kit or helmet (and if they do, it’s probably time to find another group ride).
If you find the right group and stick with the ride on a regular basis, you’ll find that joining a group has a lot of benefits for your growth as a cyclist, whether you consider yourself to be recreational or competitive:
- You’ll Get Stronger: It’s almost a guarantee that many, if not most, of the riders in the group will be stronger and you’ll have to push yourself out of your comfort zone. This leads to big improvements in your fitness.
- You’ll Learn More: Are you pushing too big of a gear? Not shifting in the right spots? Every group ride is full of riders who are eager to share what they know. Just try not to take offense; they’re just trying to help.
- You’ll Feel More Confident: You never know what you’re capable of until you try. Riding with a group will help you quickly master many of the complexities of cycling and be a stronger, more confident rider overall.
- You’ll Make Friends: Unless you’re that guy (and you don’t want to be that guy) that attacks when someone flats, you’ll probably make some pretty good friends on your group ride.
- It’s Fun: Sometimes riding can become a chore, especially if you always ride alone. Instead of always doing the same routes and struggling in the same spots, riding with a group can help spice up your riding life and give some variety to your cycling.
Learn more about how to tackle your first group ride with Performance Bicycle’s group ride quick guide. If you need help finding a ride in your area contact your local Performance Bicycle store. Most Performance stores have group rides leaving right from the store or they can help find another ride suited to your skill and riding level.
– Your Friends at Performance Bicycle