Welcome to the first installment in this series, Off the Front, of advice for those finding their way into the wide open world that is riding a bicycle. If you think you are the lone rider with a million questions regarding this new pastime, you are totally wrong and that is totally fine. Riding a bike, as simple as it is, can be complicated at times. Today we have taken it upon ourselves to make an attempt at giving you some direction on how to choose where and when you ride your bicycle throughout the typical week.
Now let’s first start by saying, anyone who has been riding a bicycle for a little while will tell you the same thing when asked to list the pros and cons of riding a bicycle: “There are no con’s.” As the writer of this article and someone who has been riding a bicycle for some years now, I will have to agree. That makes this probably the most difficult article to write of all the articles that will be written in 2018, but for the sake of bicycles and everything else beautiful we are going to give it a shot and get this one out of the way first. Let’s dive in with the fun part first.
GROUP RIDE PROS:
If you are new to the world of cycling or perhaps you have been riding a bicycle for a bit, you may be aware of group rides. They might be posted on your local Facebook cycling group or on the bike shop wall. They might have been “in your way” at some point when you were driving home or to your local supermarket. Whatever the case may be, they exist and you really should take advantage of them.
The world of bicycling is huge and therefore filled with wide range of personalities. You will make friends riding with large groups of people. You might even make a few rivals and dare we say it, enemies. However intense or easy a ride may be, at the end of the day it is always a great feeling to accomplish something with a group of people. That feeling gets even better with a group of friends. The bicycle is a wonderful excuse to meet up with friends, catch up and explore the countryside. I’m very pro friends and bikes. (Disclaimer: Instagram and television are not required for this activity. In fact, we recommend you focus on those with you and the beautiful scenery around you, which brings us to our next point.)
Being safe while riding on the road is a legitimate issue. There can be 20 different things to pay attention to in a given moment, especially when trying to get out of the city limits. After some time riding, you will have eyes in the back of your head. You might have even thought after your last solo ride, “Wow I could really use 20 sets of eyes. I’d feel a lot safer”. Well, guess what? We have news for you! Try this hot new product called “Group Riding.” Now you can have 30, 40, even 100 sets of eyes helping you look out for dangers on the road! There are no cons about that. (Disclaimer: This product is not really new. People have been doing this for ages and continues to be one of the best parts about riding in a group.)
It always pays to have experienced heads looking out for you. Whether it was our parents or our boss at work, someone has taught us the skills we need to succeed. The same is true for riding a bicycle in a group. We all love ‘Googling’ those pressing questions weighing on our minds, but there is no substitute for getting out with a group and having your friends teach you the skills necessary to be safe on the road. You will learn what took years of trial and error of your friends in one ride, which can save you a hundred headaches and more importantly, your skin.
Lastly, and we are using that word loosely here, a great pro in a group is that you just go farther. If your legs can’t take you 100 miles, let your friends break the wind for you. Learning to draft and ride with others is an essential part of cycling. Learning to lean on your friends for help is a part of life. Eventually, they will learn they can lean on you. In cycling, this give and take relationship between riders enables people of all skill levels to ride an innumerable amount of miles every year. (Disclaimer: This give and take relationship usually goes out the window when a Strava segment or green county line sign happens to be on the chosen route for the day. PEARL iZUMi cannot assume responsibility for you losing the country line sprint. We recommend having a snack and resting the legs to ensure you get that KOM or country line sprint next time.)
This concludes our Group Ride Pros section. There are so many more pros, but we have so many more other topics to cover. It’s easy to talk about the positives. Now we get to talk about the cons. Bike riding is awesome so we had to work hard on this one. Please read and be prepared for your next group ride!