Sick of riding on your own? Find a ride group that suits your style, and level of riding. here’s how! – Molly Hurford
Sick of always riding alone? While you’ve built your fitness and confidence on the bike riding mostly on your own, there’s a lot to be gained from riding with a group. If you’re a mountain biker, group rides can help you build new skills and gain confidence. And if you’re a roadie, pedalling with a crew can prep you for racing, or just help you develop fitness, mental toughness and important pack riding skills for races.But finding the right group can be hard. Maybe the first group ride you tried ended in tears, or with you getting unceremoniously dropped. Don’t give up: It’s worth doing some homework to find or create your own cycling squad. We asked some experts for their top tips on forming a ride crew to keep things fun—and keep you riding hard.
The first stop when hunting for a cycling squad should be your local bike shop. Typically, shops will either know about local groups and clubs, or will even host group rides from various locations. Make sure you let the shop know your skill level, and be as honest as possible so that the employees there can help hook you up with the right people.
“You really need to fit in with the group for it to work in the long term,” says mountain biking coach Carl Roe. That means looking for a group that will push you to be better—but won’t be so advanced that you can’t keep up enough to work on your skills. “We found you can’t concentrate on technique while you’re coughing up a lung,” Roe adds.
Check out Instagram and click on locations you’re already riding to see who else is riding there. Search for Facebook pages or groups in your area as well—often, there are quite a few cycling pages, and you can make plans or jump in on group rides that way. “Friend-ing people on social media and reaching out to ride that way is less awkward than in person sometimes, and has worked out for me so far,” says mountain biker and group ride organiser Amber Krueger. Strava also has local groups and clubs to join, and that can be a great way to find cyclists who have a similar pace and ride schedule as you.
“You aren’t going to meet people and make new friends if you don’t show up to rides and events,” says Krueger. “Know that everyone is a little nervous at first and may feel a bit intimidated, don’t let that keep you from showing up! Some of my best friendships were made by showing up to an event that just sounded fun.”
And don’t let one bad group ride cause you to give up. “Group rides are tricky; sometimes the group dynamic doesn’t mesh that night, or there is a leader that is just a hammerhead one night,” Krueger says. “Go back again and see if the next experience is better.”
Sometimes a group just isn’t the right fit; if that’s the case, there’s no shame in walking away and trying something else. “People are so busy with families that it’s nearly a full-time job keeping a group together and organising people,” Roe says. “And people go hot and cold on riding, so they come for a while, and then drop off, or the season changes.”
If a ride isn’t working out for you, or you’re not having fun, switch it up and try another group or type of ride. And if your buddy drops out of the group ride or the cool fast guy stops showing up and you don’t feel like continuing to attend, that’s okay, too. Roe says a good cycling companion isn’t something that should feel forced. “If you have to chase someone, they won’t be a long-term riding companion,” he says.