A typical group ride can consist of any number of riders (I've been on some as small as three and as large as 150!), and usually lasts between two and four hours. The three factors determining the type of ride you have are: the experience level of the riders, the geography of your area and how many rest stops there will be along the route. These factors can combine to create remarkably different rides. In the club ride, it is usually not known who and how many riders will show up on any given day, and this creates a randomness and lack of focus that can be a challenge.
Races vs. Club Rides
First and foremost, it's important to understand that group rides are not races. There are no official categories. You can have many different levels—from professionals to Cat 5's—as well as a wide range of ages all riding together. Commonly, lower-level riders get pushed to their limits early in the ride and then are dropped from the group.
Club rides do offer lower category and masters racers an opportunity to see firsthand how a top-level cyclist performs on the bike and gives them a chance to learn from more experienced/stronger riders. It can also give you a direct experience with top-level riders that cannot be gotten merely from watching them race.
1. Have fun: Above all, the club runs are fun. Even when it’s snowing. There may be some rules here but the club run isn’t a military drill, it’s about enjoying getting out on the bike.
2. Say hello: If you’re new, please identify yourself to those leading the club run. Please listen to them, as they will explain how the run works and where it’s going.
3. Join: We especially welcome new members on the club run and if you like the club run, please become a member. We’re happy for you to try the ride a few times but after three or four rides you join if you want to ride with us.
4. Don’t race: You’ll get fit riding the club runs regularly. There are no trophies on offer and many who come out for a club run do so precisely because they don’t fancy racing. If you want a hard ride, go with a training group.
5. Keep together: It’s inevitable some will sprint up the hills and others will take their time. So if you ride up fast, you must wait at the top for the others and make sure the group reforms after any descent too.
6. Group size: Groups setting off together shouldn’t be more than 10-12 riders strong. There’s nothing illegal about large groups but collectively the group is like a long vehicle and the bigger the group, the harder it is to ride safely together.
7. Safety: Be responsible and ride safely. It’s not complicated. You’re responsible for your own safety but think of others. If you see an obstacle ahead like a pothole, then warn the others with a shout or hand signal. Likewise, if you’re on the back of the group and notice traffic building up, shout for the ride to fall into single file.
8. Change the lead: Every few minutes, the lead should change. So if you’ve been sitting on the front for a while, when it’s safe to do so, tell the others and swap the lead. But if you’re tiring and suddenly it’s your turn to be on the front, tell the others as it’s fine to take it easy.
9. Wear club kit: Members should wear the club kit if they can. MIVA clothing is pro-team quality and stylish, it’s a nice gesture to support our sponsors.
10. Mechanicals: If someone punctures or has a mechanical, everyone is expected to stop. So in return for delaying everyone, make sure you start the ride with spares like an inner tube, pump, tire levers, patch kit, and that your bike is roadworthy.
These rules aren’t set in stone, it’s all about being sensible and aware whilst riding on the road. Our club rides should attract lots of riders and so these rules set out what’s required. Remember, you are responsible for your safety and take part in activities at your own risk.
By the way, these rules apply to other club rides, whether or not they are organized by the club or by individual members.
It's a way of de-stressing and it leaves you feeling good during and after the ride.
- Chris Froome
2013 Tour De France Winner