Group rides are the primary activity of Spring City Cycling Club. Cycling itself is a great individual sport, and solo rides are great for training and fitness, but there's nothing quite like the quiet hum of a pace line of riders in perfect synchronization or the chatty buzz of friends catching up on a relaxing roll through the Alabama countryside.
Make the most of this great sport by educating yourself and your friends about bike handling skills, safety, and group ride etiquette.
General Group Riding Tips
Everyone has their own riding goals, interests and abilities, and they are all legitimate. Making the rides a positive experience for the most people is the goal. We would like to encourage EVERYONE to review these group riding tips, even those who have been riding for years:
These are not meant to discourage anyone from attending the rides. The intention is to help everyone understand group riding techniques and etiquette, thereby helping everyone's enjoyment of group riding. Hope to see you on a ride!
SCCC Guidelines for Club Rides
A list of essential expectations for each club ride participant is below:
- Always wear your helmet.
- Know your limits (see below*).
- Show up prepared:
- Make every attempt possible to arrive at the ride on time ready to ride. Start time means rolling out time, not arrival time.
- Have your own spares, tools, etc. that you may need. Don't expect someone else to provide them for you.
- Print yourself a map and/or cue sheet from the Rides Database.
- Ride with personal identification (name, phone, address, emergency contact, medical conditions, medication, allergies (medical & other), insurance number, etc.)
- Rides are generally not supported, so bring plenty of water (fluids) and food. Some routes may include rest stops at convenience stores where additional food and drink may be purchased, so bring money ($).
- Dress appropriately for the weather. Layered clothing is recommended. Add or remove layers as weather conditions change. This is especially important in cooler and cold riding conditions.
- Obey all traffic control signs and signals. If part of the group has to stop for a red light, be considerate and wait up for them.
- Ride in a responsible & predictable way in traffic & in cycling groups. Sudden moves around other cyclists & moving cars makes for some very stressful, sometimes painful, moments. Signal and speak up when you need to slow down or pull over.
- If the ride stops for a rest break, try to be ready to go when the others are.
- Many after work rides do NOT have a ride leader. They have only point of contact (POC). POCs provide information but will not necessarily be at the rides, nor provide maps, nor are they responsible for the other riders.
*Know Your Limits. The determining factor on our advertised rides is usually pace, not average speed. Pace is considered the typical speed on flat ground. The speed will decrease and increase throughout the ride. If you are not able to maintain the advertised pace for the distance given, then you should not attempt that ride. On the flip-side of the issue, respect the advertised pace listed for a ride. Although no one is going to be monitoring the actual pace, if the ride is advertised at 13-15 mph and you know you are likely to consistently ride 10 mph faster, you should consider initiating or leading another ride that is geared more closely towards your riding interests.
Finding a Ride at Your Pace.
It might seem to some that a many weekly club rides cater only to certain paces or ability levels. It is important to recognize that ride leaders choose the distance, route and pace of the ride they lead as well as whether or not it will be a "no rider left behind" ride. One way to ensure that a club ride will fit your needs exactly is to volunteer to be the ride leader for your favorite route and pace some Saturday. The riders who prefer the same terrain and speed as you do will show up, and you may meet some new friends who share your same pace and preferences.
Some of these rides move along at a blazing pace. Don't feel that you have to keep up with the lead group. Some riders try to stay with the fast group too long and then become exhausted for the rest of the ride. We've also had riders make a wrong turn when between groups and get lost. If you get dropped and don't know the route, stop and wait for someone who does. The ride leader generally will stay towards the back of the entire group, making sure that everyone (still on the route) makes the turns & is not stranded on the road. To reduce the chances of getting lost, we recommend you print your own cue sheet at home. Many routes are available in the Rides Database
After-Work Rides. These rides are a little different. There is not a ride leader, only a point of contact. Most of these rides are considered "on-your-own" rides, meaning if you get dropped, you’re dropped. Riders like to come out and push themselves on these rides. Find a group that you can ride with; there are usually different groups of many abilities on these rides.
Group Riding Dynamics. As a club event, we want to encourage the group dynamics, a sense of camaraderie. That might include helping someone who has mechanical difficulty, waiting at the top/bottom of a long hill, or waiting for someone stopped by traffic. Another “group” quality is helping fellow riders stay with the group by taking a pull in front (but not increasing the pace that would drop the weaker riders) or pulling a “dropped” rider back to the rest of the group. Gathering at rest stops allows people to refuel, socialize or possibly change the mini-group they were riding with. Someone might decide to ride with a slower or faster group if given the chance. On the flip-side: when the ride stops for a rest break, try to be ready to go when the others are. An exception to this would be in cold weather; when waiting for a long time in cold weather is difficult.
Weather & Cancellations.
If the weather is questionable before the start time, check the Forums
or Facebook Page
first, and if no information has been posted, you may want to call / email the ride leader to confirm whether the ride will take place. During the colder months, rider leaders are not obligated to host the ride if the temperature is below 40 degrees at the start time.