Ride Guide

Introduction

Getting involved in a cycling club can be a daunting experience, especially if you don't happen to be an extrovert. This guide looks to prepare you for your first ride with the club, it also serves as a refresher for those riders who are already experienced with the Railway City Cycling Club (RCCC) and provides some insight for those who are looking to improve their abilities.

For new riders, it is highly recommended that you take time to join us on a Wednesday night in the Spring and Early Summer (see: Back to Basics rides in the Calendar) to get a bit of one on one time with an experienced club member. This will give you a head start for some of our longer rides on the weekend.

Risk Management

It is important to note that no activity is without risk. The club has prepared a Risk Management Plan, which is updated annually, to reflect how we will address the risks of riding on public roads.

IMPORTANT: The 2021 Risk Management Plan has been updated with our COVID-19 Protocols as well. Some of these protocols will supersede the general ride guide below.

Finding Rides

General Schedule

We ride most days of the week. Weekday rides are under 50km and offer an opportunity to get to know other riders well. Weekend rides are targeted towards cafe stops, typically in smaller towns, that require more teamwork to ride to efficiently.

Monday

Start Time: 6:30PM

Distance: 35-50km

Style: Social - no one is trying to set a land-speed record

Grouping: Pace Group, based on attendance

Sample Routes: John Wise Loop, Port Stanley Loop

Wednesday

Start Time: 6:30PM

Distance: 30-45km

Style: Instructional - learn how to group ride and strategies for riding more effectively

Grouping: Pace Group & Skill Level

Sample Routes: Sparta Flat, Sparta Hilly, Sparta Suffering Loop

Thursday

Start Time: 6:30PM

Distance: 20-45km

Style: Social - no one is trying to set a land-speed record

Grouping: Pace Group, based on attendance

Sample Routes: Short Loop, Springfield Loop

Weekend (Main)

Start Time: 8:00AM

Distance: 70-100km

Style: Hosted Ride

Grouping: Pace Group, based on attendance

Sample Routes: Van Lahti's Cafe

Weekend (Alt)

Start Time: 8:00AM

Distance: 70-100km

Style: Hosted Ride

Grouping: Pace Group, based on attendance

Sample Routes: The Olde Bakery Cafe

Early Mornings

Start Time: 5:30AM

Distance: 70-80km

Style: Training Ride

Grouping: Pace Group, based on attendance

Sample Routes: Pt Stanley Hills, Iona Tempo

Ride with GPS

As you may have noticed with the above sample routes, we use Ride with GPS as the platform to organize our events. This allows us to communicate details about a ride, drives our club calendar and creates a history of our activities. As a perk of being a club member, all club rides get the benefits of being treated as if you were an individual paid member of Ride with GPS. Once you have joined RCCC, you can apply to join our Ride with GPS Club.

Slack

We are transitioning away from using Facebook Groups. Why? Because it is nearly impossible to get a consistent delivery of information to all members. As an alternative, we are targeting a messaging platform called Slack. In your welcome email you will have an invitation link to join our Slack group. If you have lost this e-mail, please reach out to any member of the board for an invite.

Along with a web interface, there are iOS and Android mobile apps available. Key information will be communicated in the #announcements channel. You can leverage the Slack channels to see who is attending rides and interact with other club members.

What to Bring

Required Items

  1. A bike

  • It is strongly suggested that you bring a multi-geared road bike for most rides over 25km in length. Other styles of bike may work, but you will likely expend more effort and have some trouble keeping up.

  • The bike should be in good operating condition. This includes proper air pressure in tires, chain lubed, brakes aligned with sufficient braking power available, components in working order, etc.

  • If the ride leader deems your bike to not be in rideable condition, you will not be able to participate in the ride as it is a safety issue for the group.

  • If you bring a Time Trail bike, you will be asked to ride "on the horns" so that your hands are close to your brake levers at all times. The same guidance goes for bikes with clip-on aerobars.

  1. A helmet

  • This is required, you will not be able to ride without a helmet.

  1. Your membership card

  • Not every ride leader knows every member. You may be asked to present a valid membership card (e-mailed to you when you joined) to confirm you are insured and can ride.

Recommended Items

  1. Your cycling kit

Ideally, this would be our fancy RCCC Kit, but it is not required. It is highly recommended that you bring a pair of padded shorts and a cycling jersey. These will keep you comfortable (top and bottom) over the duration of the ride. For colder rides, you may wish to bring layers and/or arm/leg/knee warmers. Keep in mind, as you ride you may warm up and these will need to be packed away.

  1. Spare Tube / Puncture Kit

It is inevitable that you will get a puncture while on the road. It happens to everyone at some point, sometimes multiple times per ride. Make sure you have a spare inner tube that fits your tire, tire levers to get your tires off and some way to re-inflate your tire such as a hand pump or a CO2 cartridge.

  1. Emergency Contact Info

You should be able to reach out to the ride leader or another contact in the event of an emergency. A cell phone may not always stay charged, so it is good to carry this information in hard copy somewhere on your person or bike.

  1. Nutrition

On most rides, you will need water and food. Nothing is worse than being an hour away from the nearest town and running out of energy. Plan on one bottle of water for every 45 minutes of activity and torching a few hundred calories per hour at a minimum. It is highly recommended to bring an energy bar (~250 cals) and a few gels (100 cals each) to any ride over two hours. Bananas are great portable energy too. Eat them before you get hangry (a combination of hungry and angry, which happens when you wait too long to eat).

  1. Lights

For early morning rides, rides in the evenings as daylight fades and quite frankly to continue to be visible on the road, you should have lights for your bike. In most circumstances, a white front light and a red rear light will suffice. However, if you are riding pre-dawn, or in dusk, you should have a front light with enough power to allow you to see road hazards (500-800 lumens).

How We Ride

Single Paceline Animation (above) and Double Rotating Paceline (below) - From bicycling.com

Riding in a Group

We ride in groups, one of the best cycling experiences around. It can be social enough for a chat and structured to go faster than you ever could on your own. The exact execution of these groups is dictated by the rider skill level and range the gamut of structure, which the most structured and disciplined group riding being the fastest and most efficient. Regardless, there are huge benefits to utilizing a paceline as soon as you are comfortable with it.

A few tips to keep in mind:

  1. Keep the Pace - Going to the front you may need to do more work but you don't need to speed up. Keep track of the group's pace as you approach the front and hold it while you're there.

  2. Micro Adjust - Use skills like soft pedalling, air braking and feathering to make small changes to your speed as opposed to slamming on the brakes every time.

  3. Don't Stare - It is easy to get locked on the wheel in front of you. Not only is that boring, but it is also not giving you any time to react to changing situations. Keep scanning the road about 10m ahead for upcoming obstacles. Use the gaps in the riders to make this easier.

  4. Ease Off the Gas - When preparing to move backwards through the group, you just need to slightly ease off the gas to allow the group to start overtaking you. Remember - small adjustments!

  5. Share and Share Alike - Short pulls keep the paceline moving. A paceline that is consistently moving doesn't leave any particular rider exposed to the wind which makes the ride smoother for everyone involved!

  6. Conserve Energy - If you're getting burned out, let the others know and have them slot in front of you. This provides you some time to recover before you blow up.

Pacelines

We routinely ride using a single paceline or a double rotating paceline as shown in the animations on the left. Which type is used at any given time is subject to the road, traffic, weather and group conditions. The ride leader will give the group instructions to use one type or another.

Signalling

Communication while riding is incredibly important. As you are part of the flow of traffic, you need to be able to communicate with your fellow drivers and riders. The graphic on the right shows some of the most common hand signals that we use as a group to enable this communication. Remember, wind noise, traffic, and other audio interference over the length of a peloton make verbal communication unreliable and verbal communication with motor vehicles is impractical. Hand signals are the best approach for communications.

There are nuances to signalling that are nicely covered in the GCN Video linked below. For example, when it's appropriate to yell instead of using a signal.

Pace Group Definitions

We organize by pace in order to deliver an experience that fits the skill level of our riders. There are a few key definitions to remember:

  1. Average Pace - Speed will vary at different points of the ride dependent on road conditions. Therefore this is the pace that will appear on your wonderful Strava post at the end of your ride.

  2. Top Speed - There are times when even if conditions permit, the group is not comfortable travelling faster than a certain speed. Those caps are in place to keep the rides comfortable for all riders.

  3. Ride Styles - Pacelines can be optional or highly encouraged (especially as you start moving faster). Echelons protect from crosswinds but require more advanced handling skills to execute.

Final Thoughts

  • Ride in a group that suits your capabilities.

  • Ride within the guidelines of the group you are in. Respect the posted pace and etiquette of that group.

  • Don't chase riders that ride too hard. They will soon realize their error and adjust back to the group or ride off into the sunset as a lone hero.

  • Pay attention to the Ride Leader(s) and those riders around you.

Pace Groups

Group A

Ride Pace

  • Average 32kph+

  • Top Speed - Uncapped

Ride Style

  • Pacelines

  • Echelons

Group B

Ride Pace

  • Average 25-31kph

  • Top Speed - 32kph

Ride Style

  • Pacelines Highly Encouraged

Group C

Ride Pace

  • Average 23-25kph

  • Top Speed - 27kph

Ride Style

  • Paceline Optional

Group D

Ride Pace

  • Average 20-22kph

  • Top Speed - 24kph

Ride Style

  • Beginner training and social rides