Why You Should Ride (at Least Sometimes) with a Group
A nice thing about cycling as a sport is that you can do it both by yourself or with a group. Here is how group riding will benefit you:
- Community – Wherever you are, it’s likely that there are at least a few regular group rides. Some are officially organized, and others just happen, like pick-up basketball games. I’ve been doing the same “unofficial” rides for over 25 years. We all know where and when the ride starts, and you just show up and hang on, and you get to know the regulars. I might not know what they look like if they’re not in their cycling kits, but I know them, and they know me. The “vibe” of the ride depends on who typically shows up. Some rides are fast “suffer fests” while others are quite casual. Ask your local bike shop about the group rides. Or better yet, join a local bike club.
- Accident Avoidance – Most bike/auto collisions are the result of the driver saying they just didn’t see the cyclist. There is safety in numbers because a group is much more visible to a driver than a solo driver.
- Roadside Assistance — You should always bring the necessary tools and supplies to take care of a flat tire or a small mechanical malfunction. But even when you do, there are circumstances where irregular malfunctions occur. Another person riding with you can be a life-saver. I remember when my chain broke on a ride. A friend of mine was able to put it back together with a rock! I would never have thought that possible before the ride.
- Tutoring – Believe it or not, there is a lot to learn about riding a bike, and the best way to do that is to ride with cyclists that are more experienced than you. They can answer questions, and just watching what they do will help you with your technique. And if you do something goofy, you will be told instantly, because one rider down in a group exposes others to danger.
- Faster and Farther – It’s always easier to ride farther and faster in a group because of the draft of being behind other cyclists. And if it’s easier, you can probably go farther than you thought you could. This provides a sense of accomplishment, and will get you geared up to go even further and faster.
If you are serious about cycling, you will also spend time riding by yourself, and that’s fun too, but in a different way. You can ride at the pace you want, stop when you want, and you can look around and notice the scenery. Although, when you’re in a big group ride, you really shouldn’t be looking at the scenery all that much. Riding alone you can also better contemplate the world you’re in.