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.
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.
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.
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.
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
How We Ride
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:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Top Speed - Uncapped
Top Speed - 32kph
Pacelines Highly Encouraged
Top Speed - 27kph
Top Speed - 24kph
Beginner training and social rides