The trails are pretty soaked in a lot of areas of the country right now, so a lot of you are taking to the road for your training. Or, maybe (like me) you always employ a good deal of road riding in your training. Or, possibly, you are a road-only person who just likes to read my blog. Whatever it is, you should realize that there are some “unspoken” rules to road riding- especially when it comes to group rides. I figured now is a good time to cover a few that I’ve seen severely violated in the past few weeks.
Follow these simple steps to avoid looking like a douchebag:
-Safety: this is pretty easy. Obey traffic laws. Be predictable. Look way ahead and avoid obstacles so that you never need to make a sudden maneuver. This also makes the entire ride more “elegant” because you aren’t constantly yelling and pointing at crap in the road. You just follow the person in front of you, and everyone avoids everything without excess chatter.
– Nothing says, “I’m insecure with my ability to handle wind” like bringing your TT bike to a group ride. The group ride is not for time trial bikes. You don’t ride time trials with a group, so save it for your solo rides. (exception- that’s your only bike, in which case, your elbows never touch the elbow pads unless you’re leading the group or off the back of the group.)
– Nothing says, “I’m insecure with my ability to not get dropped” like riding carbon wheels during a group ride. In fact, the heavier your wheels are, the faster you look (bonus “panache” points for 32+ spokes and/or 25c tires).
– Bring your own flat repair stuff. Know how to change a flat without flatting your new tube. Women- this especially applies to you.
– Shave your legs.
-If the temperature is <50 and you’re not wearing anything on your legs other than shorts and/or you wear summer gloves, you don’t look tough. You look dumb.
– The only form of (slightly) acceptable sleeveless jersey is a previous year’s team kit with the sleeves cut off. It may only be worn if you are at least a cat 3 road racer or cat 1 MTB racer, and only when the temperature is >90 deg F.
– Nothing says I DGAF about anyone like wearing headphones on a group ride. Yes, even one headphone.
-Know when to retire your shorts. Just because they don’t have holes in them doesn’t mean the person behind you can’t see the hairs of your asscrack once you start to sweat.
– There will be one or more “senior,” well-respected, “been around forever” members of the group ride who will tell you if you’re riding in an unpredictable or otherwise incorrect manner. Whether you like what that person says or not, shut up and do what he or she says. The only time you talk back to this person is to thank them for the help/advice. I can’t stress how terrible you look when you mouth off to someone who has been racing bikes since before you were chasing cheerleader tail in high school. You know how bad kids look when they talk back to their parents and act like brats? It’s like that, except that you’re a grown man. Respect your elders. Some day, if you’re lucky, you might earn that status. ‘Til then, shut up.
Addendum: I know a lot of riders who put in big miles. That’s great if that’s your thing, but if your goal is to win road races, and you’re a cat 4 or 5, your races are nowhere near as long as the century rides you like to brag about on facebook every weekend, and they’re a helluva lot faster, too. Nothing wrong with just enjoying a full day of riding a bike at all, just don’t tell yourself (and everyone else) that’s it’s getting you prepared for the first 35 mile road race of the season.
Now, go out, ride hard, and get fast.