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Bsilver
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Last night I participated in my very 1st group ride sponsored by our local club which I just joined. There was two groups, group A 19+ pace and B 16+ pace. I am not ready for group A and found myself ahead of group B. I may be able to eventually get to a level to ride with group A, but until that time do I ride almost by myself in the middle of two groups or hang with group B. Our group leader is terrific and made sure no one would be dropped by staying nearly at the end of group B. What is the proper way to ride in this situation. I am sure next week will be the same.

bsilver
 

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Milk was a bad choice.
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I ride primarily by myself as well, but I find that participating in group rides is the only way you're going to learn to ride in a group and be comfortable in a group. It is way better to get acclimated to group riding in a group that is going at a speed you can easily maintain than trying to learn group riding and dealing with trying not to get dropped by a fast group at the same time. I would stick with the B group, and think of it more as learning skills than getting faster. Then when you can hang with the A group, you won't feel like you've just jumped into the deep end of the pool without knowing how to swim.
 

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Still On Steel
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What I do, when the two groups are following the same route, is ride with the faster group until I blow up and then wait until the slower group catches me and finish the ride with it. I try not to spend a lot of time out in the middle by myself, because I like the social aspects of group rides. (I don't mind riding alone, but I can go out and do that any time, on my own.)

But this does assume you are comfortable riding in a group, the speed issue aside. As erj549 says, riding with a group slower than you is a good way to learn. OTOH, as Andrea138 suggests, sooner or later you'll need to push yourself in order to get stronger.
 

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Unless your schedule prevents you from getting out much I don't see why you think you have to make a choice here.
Just do some of each. Ride B group to lean group dynamics one day, ride alone another day, try A group to check your progress now and then.
 

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I am going to add a third choice. Ride with the B group a few times then step up and ask if it would be ok if you lead a ride at 17.5-18mph. It may only be a few guys at first but it is worth a shot.

I did this last year with my club. There were 2 week night B rides (15-16mph) and 2 week night A rides ( a hammerfest and a hill ride). Nothing at a pace or distance that I felt comfortable with. The Club gave me the OK to start leading rides but told me the reason there are not week night rides at that pace is traditionally no one comes out for them. It took about 5 weeks of posting rides for a solid group to develop where we would regularly have 6-9 riders show up.
 

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If you can ride solo at 16 mph in fornt of the B group, I'd think you could hang drafting the A group at 19, and maybe take a few short pulls.
 

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my .02

Since you can't quite hang with the A group, I would ride with group B for a several rides until you really get the hang of group riding and it's dynamics, but I would do long pulls to put in the effort desired, and build up. Then try to jump in with the As.

Maybe your groups are a different dynamic than mine, though. We have A,B,C rides - A: 20-25mph B: 17-19 C: 14-16. Our B group is way more tolerant of rookies. Our A group expects you to know what you're doing, and keep the pace rolling. God forbid you let a gap open up on a straightaway.
 

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Allez Rouge said:
What I do, when the two groups are following the same route, is ride with the faster group until I blow up and then wait until the slower group catches me and finish the ride with it. I try not to spend a lot of time out in the middle by myself, because I like the social aspects of group rides. (I don't mind riding alone, but I can go out and do that any time, on my own.)

But this does assume you are comfortable riding in a group, the speed issue aside. As erj549 says, riding with a group slower than you is a good way to learn. OTOH, as Andrea138 suggests, sooner or later you'll need to push yourself in order to get stronger.
This will get you into the A group speed the quickest. I also like the idea of starting another ride but as a beginner, it may not be a good idea.
 

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d365 said:
Since you can't quite hang with the A group, I would ride with group B for a several rides until you really get the hang of group riding and it's dynamics, but I would do long pulls to put in the effort desired, and build up. Then try to jump in with the As....
But if you do long pulls, don't get carried away and pick up the pace beyond what the group wants to ride. There's nothing as irritating as a guy who bumps it up 1-2 MPH every time he takes the lead just to show what a hero he is.
 

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Moderatus Puisne
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What others have said -- Ride with the fast kids, blow up, recover, ride with the recreational riders, rinse, repeat.

I don't know that leading your "own group" as suggested is a great plan, you are new to group rides and getting that wheel to wheel experience will be helpful to you.
 

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I think what Andrea said was pretty solid, but before you do that, I would recommend sticking with the B group until you're confident with your ability to ride in a pack before you start checking out the A group now and then. Riding in a slower group at a bit of an easier pace is a pretty different dynamic from riding at almost full on race pace in a group.

One thing to note is that the space between riders in faster more experienced groups is even smaller, so if you're not completely smooth, controlled, and predictable, bad things can happen. I don't mean to downplay your riding ability, for all I know, you could be a superb bike handler. However, you've only completed your first group ride. Nothing is worse than having someone in an experienced group who has more speed than skill, because that poses a danger to yourself and the other riders.

So, to summarize:
Ride with B group until you're confident of pack riding skills.

After group riding skills are built up, check out the A group every few rides, or ride with them until you blow up, then get caught by the B group and finish.
 

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A wheelist
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oroy38 said:
I think what Andrea said was pretty solid, but before you do that, I would recommend sticking with the B group until you're confident with your ability to ride in a pack before you start checking out the A group now and then. Riding in a slower group at a bit of an easier pace is a pretty different dynamic from riding at almost full on race pace in a group.

One thing to note is that the space between riders in faster more experienced groups is even smaller, so if you're not completely smooth, controlled, and predictable, bad things can happen. I don't mean to downplay your riding ability, for all I know, you could be a superb bike handler. However, you've only completed your first group ride. Nothing is worse than having someone in an experienced group who has more speed than skill, because that poses a danger to yourself and the other riders.

So, to summarize:
Ride with B group until you're confident of pack riding skills.

After group riding skills are built up, check out the A group every few rides, or ride with them until you blow up, then get caught by the B group and finish.
As a rider of a kazillion group rides, some great, some a shambles, IMO poster oroy is the person who has it all correct here. Others have parts of it right. OP - listen to this guy.
 

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There really isn't that much of a difference between 19mph and 16mph in a group ride, if you are in fairly decent condition. As other have said, ride with the fast group and see what happens -- you just might be surprised. IF you do get dropped, you will be in the same situation you were in on your 1st ride, behind the faster riders but ahead of the slower riders so nothing changes. Eventually you will be able to stay with the A group. Strength comes with riding so just keep on riding.
 

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Right

onlineflyer said:
There really isn't that much of a difference between 19mph and 16mph in a group ride, if you are in fairly decent condition.
Right. 19 mph only takes 50% more power than 16 mph. That's about the same, isn't it?
 

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Kerry Irons said:
Right. 19 mph only takes 50% more power than 16 mph. That's about the same, isn't it?
I was referring to drafting at 19mph and pulling at 16mph. Rereading my post, that didn't come across.
 

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Although the speeds are different on my group rides, I have the same fundamental problem. Once you have a few more group rides under your belt, it works well for me to roll out with the A group and hang as long as possible...just watch that getting dropped each ride doesn't affect your motivation.

Camilo said:
But if you do long pulls, don't get carried away and pick up the pace beyond what the group wants to ride. There's nothing as irritating as a guy who bumps it up 1-2 MPH every time he takes the lead just to show what a hero he is.
I agree with this, but personally struggle with it. If I'm riding with a slower group, I have to constantly watch the speed or I'll unintentially gradually increase the pace. It has nothing to do with trying to be a hero...obviously a flat ride is easier, but I really struggle to understand where the speed should be going up hills and down hills.

Nothing sucks worse than riding with a group of friends on a fun ride and unintentionally dropping half while you think you're helping everyone by doing a long pull...nothing cool about that.
 
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