Angry Birds... Riders
Group rides can be large and its’ members can be diverse. When you show up at a group ride you better have your big boy pants on and be ready to deal with a variety of personalities. We all probably know several people that eventually say enough is enough and they start their own group, or they just ride by themselves. They might have just experienced one too many angry outbursts from a fellow rider.
What is it that gets cyclists so upset? Well there are a variety of triggers. A sure fire way to annoy a group of cyclists is to change the route once the ride has started. Once the route has been decided, people seem to get a mindset that this is the ride and distance I’m riding. To later change the route, add a mileage loop, remove a stop, etc… is sure to irritate many. Some riders get so upset they say, “screw this,” and they just go home.
Another trigger is the speed of the ride. Most rides are designated (either strictly or loosely) as A, B, C or D. Even an A ride can be fast or really fast. Then you have drop or no drop, stating whether the group will stop and wait for dropped riders, or keep on going. People will often get upset if they feel a ride is going too slow, or too fast. If the ride gets so fast that riders are being dropped and many riders are being pushed way beyond what they like, people are going to start vocalizing their discontent. “HEY, SLOW DOWN, this is a ride, not a race!” If you’re on a busy bike trail, with lots of bikes, walkers, children, and joggers, this adds a whole new dynamic. Now you’re not only endangering yourselves, but other people as well.
Other common irritations are someone grabbing too much brake, or riding erratically. After a scary moment on a ride, it’s not uncommon for someone to start yelling at the offending rider or the whole group. Some riders will make the decision to slow down, drop back and get distance between them and an overly aggressive, erratic group. If the ride is getting crazy, make this decision on your own. This is a good idea if you know the area and do not mind riding alone. Move off to the side and slow to your pace, take a deep breath. You might find a few like minded riders have joined you, and you can enjoy a safer more civilized ride. Then next week try the ride again and things may be back to normal.
Cycling can be hard, it’s a physical sport, and sometimes it’s a contact sport. Anytime you have these elements you have a recipe for high emotions. What’s important to remember is you’re doing this for fun, and for your health. If your group rides are getting you down, consider trying a new group ride, or add a few more solo rides into your repertoire. Also, try not to be the aggressor; You’re not the only one trying to get something out of this. Everyone there is trying to enjoy themselves; They have different strengths, skills and goals. Be flexible, courteous and understanding. Don’t just focus on the rider in front of you, but also remember and consider the rider directly behind you. If you are ever the target of another rider’s wrath, try not to take it personally, let it roll off and go on down the road.
I hope I haven’t scared anybody who is considering a group ride for the first time. The vast majority of rides are happy, fun, challenging and rewarding. Usually everyone sinks into a subset of like minded riders with similar goals and fitness levels. The group ride is something to look forward to, a social event, a workout, and for some, a way of life.
In closing, I hope most group riders will read this post and think, wow I’ve never seen any of this… I hope anyway.