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Club advice

SprogthedogSprogthedog Posts: 8
edited March 2014 in Road beginners
I've cycled to work everyday for years (About 8 miles per day) but started road cycling last spring.
brought myself a nice bike and do anywhere between 35 to 55 miles on an average run, which in winter is only once a week, in summer, twice a week if I'm lucky.
I'm almost 49 and I'd say of average fitness. I can spin quite happily without much fatigue, with an average speed of around 16 to 18 MPH, unless I hit a hill. Then I start to suffer a bit.
My question is, I've been thinking of joining a club. On the off chance there's any forum members in my area, it would be Derby Mercury. Thing is, I don't want to bite off more than I can chew. I often get passed by large groups of club cyclists and don't want to get left behind on a run out. Also a bit concerned I'd feel pressured to try and maintain a pace that was not comfortable. I have absolutely no experience of club rides, so don't know if this would be the case.
Any insight would be appreciated.
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  • Don't worry too much about the groups passing you, you can go much faster in a group than you can on your own, just due to taking turns at the front, and that you tend to put more effort in!

    Although getting left behind on a club run does suck - happened to me last weekend :(
  • Omar LittleOmar Little Posts: 2,010
    Most of the bigger clubs will have several groups that go out catering for different levels of rider so there should be something that is suitable
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,498
    if you can maintain 16-18mph then you are likely to be ok on club runs - it's much much much easier sat in the wheels ...

    It also depends on the type of club run ... is it a coffee-stop run or more chaingang run ...

    Whilst out on a solo spin I've been invited to join in on the former type - and having joined a club survived the later type, although they did wait for me at the top of a climb ... :)

    Only way to find out is to go along and ask ... or email them ...
    They do both a Saturday training ride and a Sunday club run - personally I'd contact the organiser of the clubrun and go along - you may not get on with them anyway - but if you do then that's all good :)
  • ForumNewbieForumNewbie Posts: 1,664
    I'm almost 49 and I'd say of average fitness. I can spin quite happily without much fatigue, with an average speed of around 16 to 18 MPH, unless I hit a hill.
    Hi there, I'm in my mid-50s and not fast at all, but even I can average 16/18 mph on the flat. I'd be interested to know your average speed over a full ride, hills and all.
  • I'm almost 49 and I'd say of average fitness. I can spin quite happily without much fatigue, with an average speed of around 16 to 18 MPH, unless I hit a hill.
    Hi there, I'm in my mid-50s and not fast at all, but even I can average 16/18 mph on the flat. I'd be interested to know your average speed over a full ride, hills and all.

    Hi mate. According to my little computer gizmo, my average for the whole ride is usually around the 16.5 MPH.
    During the ride on good roads I keep around 18 to 20 MPH, but that can slow to as little as 12 MPH when I start hitting the uphill bits.
  • markhewitt1978markhewitt1978 Posts: 7,614
    edited February 2014
    Average speed is always meaningless unless you take into account climbing. My average varies by about 5mph if I'm doing a flat route or a hilly one, the fact that you go fast down hill doesn't compensate for the time spent climbing.

    But to the OP, it sounds like you'd fit in with a good number of cycling clubs - at least those who don't think of themselves as racing teams.
  • Thanks guys for the replies.
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,498
    Average speed is always meaningless unless you take into account climbing. My average varies by about 5mph if I'm doing a flat route or a hilly one, the fact that you go fast down hill doesn't compensate for the time spent climbing.
    And headwind ....
  • I used to belong to a large club in NE Scotland. It had a variety of club runs catering for all abilities. I used to get dropped from them all despite constant assurances that "no one gets dropped". The last ride I did with them was a 100km reliability ride. I was in the Av. spd. 13.5 mph group. During the first 20 miles the speed never dropped below 20 mph. After that I was on my own for the rest of the ride. I left the club. I don't think my experience is atypical.
    I have only two things to say to that; Bo***cks
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    I used to belong to a large club in NE Scotland. It had a variety of club runs catering for all abilities. I used to get dropped from them all despite constant assurances that "no one gets dropped". The last ride I did with them was a 100km reliability ride. I was in the Av. spd. 13.5 mph group. During the first 20 miles the speed never dropped below 20 mph. After that I was on my own for the rest of the ride. I left the club. I don't think my experience is atypical.

    Thats not like my experience. We do have a few club runs. Only the racing boys would be hitting 20mph average or more.

    13.5 mph is a very slow pace though - I think only the kids run would be at that pace.
  • Monty DogMonty Dog Posts: 20,614
    Ask around, seek opinions from the experiences of others. My local club has a specific beginners ride with a no-drop policy like many others - average is 16-17mph. There's nothing to be worried about about being dropped - it is a rite of passage and even after 30 years or riding, due to lack of training, fatigue or injury being dropped is no indignity.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,498
    I used to belong to a large club in NE Scotland. It had a variety of club runs catering for all abilities. I used to get dropped from them all despite constant assurances that "no one gets dropped". The last ride I did with them was a 100km reliability ride. I was in the Av. spd. 13.5 mph group. During the first 20 miles the speed never dropped below 20 mph. After that I was on my own for the rest of the ride. I left the club. I don't think my experience is atypical.

    First club run I did was with my brothers club - the run out to the tea shop was easy ~15mph (as advertised) - then on the way back he got me to the front alongside him and significantly upped the pace - I couldn't keep going at that pace and dropped into the group. The pace didn't stay high and another member of the group called for the pace to drop even further when it was obvious that I was flagging ...

    My wifes first "club" run was totally the opposite experience - she'd contacted the ride leader and having found out that the pace would be ~10mph and they never drop anyone she agreed to go along ... the pace was ~15mph, they didn't ride as a group - they were strewn along the road and when they hit a climb they dropped anyone that couldn't keep the pace. On hitting a long drag with nobody in sight my wife decided that was enough and came back (she called me and I rode out to meet her breaking several PBs along the route!)

    I've since joined a club that are not big on club runs - but we've done a few - sure, we disperse on climbs, but inbetween we're riding as a group and we don't drop anyone (on purpose).

    To my mind - if a group publishes a ride with a speed then they should stick to the overall pace of the slowest rider or the speed - whichever is higher - and only drop the slow riders if a) they know where they're going and b) agree to be dropped because they can't make the advertised pace.

    I've met a few ppl who say that their other halves can't ride with them because they're too fast ... well - that's a load of bolx too - I cut 40% from my solo pace so I can ride with my wife - sure I'm not getting a workout - but it's not for that - it's a social ride or a work out for her ... that's more important!
  • ForumNewbieForumNewbie Posts: 1,664
    cougie wrote:
    I used to belong to a large club in NE Scotland. It had a variety of club runs catering for all abilities. I used to get dropped from them all despite constant assurances that "no one gets dropped". The last ride I did with them was a 100km reliability ride. I was in the Av. spd. 13.5 mph group. During the first 20 miles the speed never dropped below 20 mph. After that I was on my own for the rest of the ride. I left the club. I don't think my experience is atypical.

    Thats not like my experience. We do have a few club runs. Only the racing boys would be hitting 20mph average or more.

    13.5 mph is a very slow pace though - I think only the kids run would be at that pace.
    I don't think 13.5 mph is very slow, particularly for a hilly ride. Certainly riding on my own I would do well to average 13.5 mph on a long hilly ride. I've seen club rides 'medium' or B rides advertised at 13-15 mph average, not kids runs.

    I think its terrible hearing that people get dropped on some club 'social' rides.
  • e999same999sam Posts: 426
    I've just joined Derby Mercury and although I've not been on a club run yet I have done the chain gang a few times. I can't imagine that you would have a problem keeping up with your average speed and I would have thought with a club like the Merc you wouldn't get left behind on a club run.
  • Monty Dog wrote:
    Ask around, seek opinions from the experiences of others. My local club has a specific beginners ride with a no-drop policy like many others - average is 16-17mph. There's nothing to be worried about about being dropped - it is a rite of passage and even after 30 years or riding, due to lack of training, fatigue or injury being dropped is no indignity.

    16-17mph seems like a fast pace. If that's a flat pace ok, but on rolling or hilly terrain I certainly wouldn't be able to do that. I make no claims of being good or even average but I'm not a beginner either.
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,498
    I don't think 13.5 mph is very slow, particularly for a hilly ride. Certainly riding on my own I would do well to average 13.5 mph on a long hilly ride. I've seen club rides 'medium' or B rides advertised at 13-15 mph average, not kids runs.
    16-17mph seems like a fast pace. If that's a flat pace ok, but on rolling or hilly terrain I certainly wouldn't be able to do that. I make no claims of being good or even average but I'm not a beginner either.

    This is why average speed isn't generally a good indicator ... but very often it is the only one available ...
  • NeXXusNeXXus Posts: 854
    Slowbike wrote:
    I don't think 13.5 mph is very slow, particularly for a hilly ride. Certainly riding on my own I would do well to average 13.5 mph on a long hilly ride. I've seen club rides 'medium' or B rides advertised at 13-15 mph average, not kids runs.
    16-17mph seems like a fast pace. If that's a flat pace ok, but on rolling or hilly terrain I certainly wouldn't be able to do that. I make no claims of being good or even average but I'm not a beginner either.

    This is why average speed isn't generally a good indicator ... but very often it is the only one available ...
    It's not a great indicator when discussing a ride done, but knowing a ride is going to be at a given average should really tell you all that's needed,regardless if you know the route to be taken.
    And the people bowed and prayed, to the neon god they made.
  • My local club does have an issue with that. In that it's not really big enough to have seperate groups at different paces, but then new members come along and don't keep up with the pace and then don't come back, so the group doesn't get any bigger.
  • I have mused over finding a club to join for a while. I can maintain 15-17mph relaltively easily so I'm sure I'd be fine in the begginner groups but one of the things that has stopped me joining is riding in a bunch. As my only riding experience is my commute to work or the very occasional social ride with a friend I've never experienced that.
    We did a 200 mile ride last year over a couple of days and I tried slipstreaming him but just didn't feel comfortable being that close and not being able to see what was up ahead. I'm sure this is a case of MTFU but my commute is littered with wheel buckling pot holes so I think it will be hard to train my brain
  • t4tomot4tomo Posts: 2,643
    Slowbike wrote:
    I've met a few ppl who say that their other halves can't ride with them because they're too fast ... well - that's a load of bolx too - I cut 40% from my solo pace so I can ride with my wife - sure I'm not getting a workout - but it's not for that - it's a social ride or a work out for her ... that's more important!

    My Mrs struggles to keep up if we go out on solo bikes (I don't think the basket on hers is very Aero tbh , but if we go out on the tandem then no matter how hard I pedal she seems to be able to keep up. Most odd. :?:
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  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,498
    t4tomo wrote:
    Slowbike wrote:
    I've met a few ppl who say that their other halves can't ride with them because they're too fast ... well - that's a load of bolx too - I cut 40% from my solo pace so I can ride with my wife - sure I'm not getting a workout - but it's not for that - it's a social ride or a work out for her ... that's more important!

    My Mrs struggles to keep up if we go out on solo bikes (I don't think the basket on hers is very Aero tbh , but if we go out on the tandem then no matter how hard I pedal she seems to be able to keep up. Most odd. :?:

    perhaps you should carry the basket?

    We've only ridden a tandem once - didn't work with me steering so she had to go on the front ... we still didn't go very fast ... but it was a good few years ago before either of us got proper bikes!
  • I have mused over finding a club to join for a while. I can maintain 15-17mph relaltively easily so I'm sure I'd be fine in the begginner groups but one of the things that has stopped me joining is riding in a bunch. As my only riding experience is my commute to work or the very occasional social ride with a friend I've never experienced that.
    We did a 200 mile ride last year over a couple of days and I tried slipstreaming him but just didn't feel comfortable being that close and not being able to see what was up ahead. I'm sure this is a case of MTFU but my commute is littered with wheel buckling pot holes so I think it will be hard to train my brain

    It's just something you get used to, and you have to trust that whoever's in front is going to point out potholes etc. It can also be a bit strange putting in as much effort as you would for 12mph but you're actually doing 20. Braking going down hill is the other thing I've found, obviously on your own you just let it roll, but others will be descending at different speeds so you need to brake from time to time to keep things in check.
  • In a group you just need to keep your wits about about you, listen to the shouts / watch for the signals coming from the front (or make sure you are clear with your own), focus on keeping a good line, don't get distracted by your Garmin and if you are getting dropped, shout as its happening not when you're 20 metres off the back and people can't hear you. If you dont feel comfortable, back off safely and try again another day.
  • markhewitt1978markhewitt1978 Posts: 7,614
    edited February 2014
    I'm surprised groups can manage to stay together at all, unless you're all pros with similar skill levels. As when you're up front it's really difficult to know if the person behind you is keeping up or is dropping off the back. The only realistic way is to keep the pace relatively low, but again one riders lowish pace can be another riders red zone (usually me!)

    Weekend before last I managed 86 miles just riding with one other, and we took it steady and took turns at the front. Last weekend with the club I blew up after 13 miles just because the pace was high.
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,498
    In a group you just need to keep your wits about about you, listen to the shouts / watch for the signals coming from the front (or make sure you are clear with your own), focus on keeping a good line, don't get distracted by your Garmin and if you are getting dropped, shout as its happening not when you're 20 metres off the back and people can't hear you. If you dont feel comfortable, back off safely and try again another day.

    All good advice - especially not being distracted by the Garmin!
    I think it's important not to just watch the backwheel of the rider in front - keep looking up the road (as much as you can)
  • Looking at your Garmin is like the equivalent of using a mobile while driving! I'm sure others can manage but if I'm in the bunch I keep my eyes on the road ahead, as Slowbike says, don't just look at the wheel in front. In reality I'd look at my Garmin when I'm on the front so I know what speed to maintain and when I need to be peel off!
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,498
    I'm surprised groups can manage to stay together at all, unless you're all pros with similar skill levels. As when you're up front it's really difficult to know if the person behind you is keeping up or is dropping off the back. The only realistic way is to keep the pace relatively low, but again one riders lowish pace can be another riders red zone (usually me!)
    Well - it's quite simple - there's usually a few riders with more experience who will keep an eye out for anyone flagging and call the pace accordingly.

    Tailing someone in a group is far easier than setting the pace - so the weaker members should spend more time in the group rather than out the front - but they need to do some pace setting for experience.
    Weekend before last I managed 86 miles just riding with one other, and we took it steady and took turns at the front. Last weekend with the club I blew up after 13 miles just because the pace was high.
    Sounds like the club pace was too high for you and you need a slower group to ride with.
    The cohesion of a group depends on the riders being similar levels of fitness - those at the extremes will find it harder (to either slow down or keep up) - as long as the levels aren't too disparate then the group can stick together easily.
  • One thing to add would be if you go to get out the saddle "Standing" is a good shout to make as the momentary momemtum loss could result in those behind crossing you off the xmas card list.
  • herzogherzog Posts: 197
    One thing to add would be if you go to get out the saddle "Standing" is a good shout to make as the momentary momemtum loss could result in those behind crossing you off the xmas card list.

    ...and stand whilst starting a downstroke to avoid momentum loss.
  • jibberjimjibberjim Posts: 2,810
    I'm surprised groups can manage to stay together at all, unless you're all pros with similar skill levels. As when you're up front it's really difficult to know if the person behind you is keeping up or is dropping off the back.

    No it's not, it's pretty easy, although it takes some thought. The biggest problem people have is riding on the front the same as if they were riding solo. When in reality you ride near enough the exact opposite.

    You increase the effort the faster you are going, and decrease the effort the slower you are going. This keeps things smooth for the people behind. so when you hit a short rise in the road you don't power up it as you increasing the power maybe 50% will mean the people behind you increasing their power 100% (as they have to match your increase in power from the gradient as well as losing the benefit from the draft because of the lower speed) Similarly as you descend the other side, the greater draft benefit means that if the person on the front doesn't increase their power then the people drafting have to decrease theirs, potentially even break.

    So ride the opposite to if you were solo.

    The other thing is of course understanding corners and junctions, and how your do not accelerate hard - again the people behind need to match your power during accelerations as there's no draft benefit for that part.

    It's not difficult to keep a group together, but inexperience tends to mean people are bad at it.
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