Weekly Group Rides

Weekly group rides.
I love them.
Many riders do not.
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They can be scoffed at by racers if the group’s pace isn’t fast enough to challenge them during their training day. Or on a rare occasion, you may have a racer join the weekly group ride on their “rest day” which is fun for them to be with you, but somehow feels like you accepted a back handed complement of sorts. Especially at the end of the group ride when some guys have completely given it all they had, still winded, while the racer then mentions it’s their rest day, but they are glad they came anyway.

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Weekly group rides are usually on the trails close to home for many riders. As such, many trail elitists tend to shy away from group rides on the trails they know so well, or consider boring because they are familiar and close. These riders would rather drive a half hour away to ride the trails they have only ridden a few less times, but at least didn’t ride them this week.
Group rides have potential to fragment. Although the best laid plans can be made, fragmenting will occur at times.  The route may be discussed before the ride, a lead rider may be shouting left and right turns at junctions, each rider may be waiting at the junction for the next to arrive before he or she leaves, and there may be a sweeper to ensure no slow riders or riders with mechanicals fall behind him, fragmenting still will occur occasionally.  Fragmenting of the group can really put guys off. Especially the ones who are not familiar with the trails.
Mechanical issues slow up the whole group. Some guys are chomping at the bit to get going again and verbalize this frustration, which can change the mood of the group ride in an instant.
Other guys are not veteran riders and while a group ride should be a perfect place for them to be welcomed into the fold, they often feel like they are single-handedly holding the group back and not matter how much encouragement they might receive from the others in the group, they may never come back due to their perception about them slowing down the pace of the group.
Then there are the riders that really want to come to the group ride, but the night it occurs is a night they have other priorities to attend to.
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I co-lead a weekly group ride in San Diego with another gentleman named Nick for the Linked Cycling club.  Last year at this time, we looked for places that allowed for outdoor recreation of our variety after sunset and before dawn. Many of the designated open space areas in San Diego prohibit use after dusk however. One place that allowed usage was in the residential canyons near Miramar Lake. I hadn’t ridden these trails much before December of 2014, some I honestly never knew existed. Many are merely glorified dog walking paths that link residential streets together, giving the ride an “urban assault” mtb riding style feel at times. Over the year, however, I have grown extremely fond of these trails. They may not be the trails I first think of when I have an hour or two to ride my bike by myself, but there are memories tied to these trails that make them much more treasured to me than other trails I find more appealing for solo rides.
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Although we have had some nights where only Nick and I have shown up to ride together on the weekly group ride, most weeks we have 7 to 10 riders. This is a manageable size group, but we have had our share of mechanicals and fragmenting on rare occasion. It is a challenge sometimes. It’s worth it though. For the relationships we have strengthened and the memories that will forever be tied to those trails in my mind, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. The riding isn’t bad either. Here is a quick video showcasing some of them.

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