After a long winter of indoor training, the weather is getting nicer and it is time to be outside training on your bike. It usually takes a ride or two to adjust to riding outside and remember bike handling skills that you didn’t use all winter long on the trainer. Make sure your bike is in perfect working order. It is a good idea to take your bike to a local bike shop for a tune up. This will prevent possible mechanical problems and headaches on a bike ride outdoors. Cycling with a group is the best way to get long rides in. It is safer and more fun to ride with a group! If you are new to cycling there are a few things to know about group rides.
- Arrive early and start on time.
- Always wear a helmet.
- Have a spare tube, tire levers, pump or Co2 cartridge and multi-tool. Don’t expect others to supply things and know how to change a flat.
- Bring more nutrition products than you think you will need.
- Have some type of identification and bring your cell phone.
- Bring some money for snacks or emergencies.
- Obey traffic laws and have fun!
When riding in a group most people form a paceline. This allows riders to conserve energy by drafting. You expend 15-20% less energy than the person in front. You should stay within 12 inches of the wheel in front of you and never overlap wheels. If your wheel is overlapping the person ahead of you there is a good chance that your wheel will get nicked by that rider and you will crash. The person leading has the most responsibility. They will set the appropriate pace and look out for the group.
Ride the same line as the group, do not weave from side to side. Ride smoothly and predictably. Riding in a paceline is not the place to be in your aero bars. Riding in aero bars is the most unstable position you could ride. You can’t react quickly to situations in aero bars. It is not safe in group rides! Ride in aero bars on solo rides. Do not accelerate or brake quickly. Announce when you are slowing or stopping. Use verbal and hand signals to point out obstacles ahead, cars behind, and needs to stop. When you are tired of leading in the front, cautiously move to the left and let the group advance and then get in line on the back.
Wear bright colored biking clothes so you will be seen by drivers. Most of this is common sense but sometimes we need to be reminded. Be safe and have fun out there! Don’t forget to go for a run after your bike ride!