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I am relatively new to the road bike world. I have been mountain biking for years but I want to get on the road as well. There are a ton of clubs in my area, but I know many of them are very hardcore. What should I be looking for? I am a quick learner and I am sure that once I get going I will pick up a lot of the nuances of road biking. I just want to avoid a situation where I am stuck with a bunch of hammerheads that are on my case the whole time.
 

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I'm not quite sure what you mean by "on your case," but most roadies -- even hammerheads -- are pretty nice.

If you say "Hey, I'm pretty new to roadbiking from MTBs, mind if I hop in your ride?" If they're nice enough to say yes (most will be, at least if you were in my area), then they're gonna be decent enough not to give you any crap.

As long as you can ride a straight line, aren't squirrely, and don't sneeze / spit all over everyone, you'll be fine.

If the ride doesn't end up being what you like, then just drop off, ride on your own that day, and find another group.

ON THE OTHER HAND, if the reason you don't want to ride with hammerheads is that you don't want to get dropped, well, I can't help you. :)
 

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What road bike do you have first?

Hang near their meeting location and then coincidentally join one of their rides, ask if you can draft. Don't try to impress by sprinting as you will eventually be dropped, just pace your self at keeping up at the back group peleton.!!
 

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just show up. if they arent nice, well, then they are jerks, and find another group (you said there were a bunch). once you are "in" you get to know the different clubs and can switch if need be. but for starters just show up and introduce yourself, no harm in that.
 

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But don't be a moreon like me and head out on the "20 - 25 Miles" ride the first time you've really ridden your road bike thinking they mean distance where really the menat Miles per hour! Amazingly I didn't do that badly but I did end up getting dropped pretty hard a bit over half way but lets just say it was an interesting introduction to my first group ride especially as I had hardly ridden a road bike before then and was still coming to grips with the shifting!

A good way to get into group rides though is through your LBS so I'm surprised nobody has suggested you have a chat with them, most stores either have their own rides or they know of others in the area so they can give you recommendations there.
 

· Still On Steel
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A couple of thoughts that may help you:

1. The larger and more well-established the club, the more likely they'll be to have rides for different levels of ability and experience. Sometimes these will actually be on different courses, and/or on different days; sometimes they'll be variations on the same basic route, on the same day.

2. The little club to which I belong has a "No cyclist left behind" policy. This doesn't mean that the "A" riders have to slow down and stay with the "C" riders; if the hammerheads want to leap off the front and disappear over the horizon, that's fine. But when they do, it falls to the "B" riders to make sure no "C" rider ends up pedaling alone. You might be able to find a club that operates similarly.
 

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friendly begets friendly. Show up, introduce yourself, ask if you can tag along. They'll likely let you hang on without your asking, but it sets the right tone.
groups tend to have their own little routes and signals and rituals. don't feel you need to take a pull; if fact, don't take a pull. Not because you can't take a pull, but then you're in the front taking responsibility, and you don't know the drill. So, sit back and watch. If you do decide to take a pull, ask, not so much to ask permission but to get direction. You might hear, sure, we're on this road for the next twenty miles go right ahead. Then, don't be a hero; take a shortish mellow pull and that's that. Nothing worse than blowing up yourself after blowing up the group. You also might hear, you know what, sit in; there's a sprint line coming up here in just a minute and you're better off just following.
 

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Second the LBS lead to locate rides. Most shops that lean towards road bike riders will know about most of the organized clubs in your area and, if like my local shop, have their own rides supported by their frequent customers. After all, not all roadies use the Internet exclusively to buy their gear and shops develop a following. The shops usually have a good feel for the types of riders in local clubs and can steer you towards a group to start with. As above, if it turns out not to be your kind of ride, look elsewhere.
 

· Burning Fists of Love
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good posts

Pretty much everybody here has said it. If you are friendly and can tag along, why not? On the other hand, you do get to know the group personalities fast and if they are not shall we say, "your cup of tea", you could just ride away on your own, or ride and drop them as a fitness test. Worst thing that happens is that you get dropped or you drop them.:rolleyes:
 

· Scary Teddy Bear
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Agree

bill said:
friendly begets friendly. Show up, introduce yourself, ask if you can tag along. They'll likely let you hang on without your asking, but it sets the right tone.
groups tend to have their own little routes and signals and rituals. don't feel you need to take a pull; if fact, don't take a pull. Not because you can't take a pull, but then you're in the front taking responsibility, and you don't know the drill. So, sit back and watch. If you do decide to take a pull, ask, not so much to ask permission but to get direction. You might hear, sure, we're on this road for the next twenty miles go right ahead. Then, don't be a hero; take a shortish mellow pull and that's that. Nothing worse than blowing up yourself after blowing up the group. You also might hear, you know what, sit in; there's a sprint line coming up here in just a minute and you're better off just following.
We have two groups in town..three if you count the women's group, and they all have varying rides. Advice would be, show up at a ride, be nice, hang at the back. Don't try and pull or push the pace. Not at first. They'll want you at the back until they are sure of your pack riding skills.
 

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Get set to have some fun.. Long..

All the advice you've received about getting with a group is good. Some thoughts on what you may find on rides with most groups, and a little advice on how to fit yourself into the pack. The 'dynamics' of riding closely with others is a fascinating study . It's what makes road cycling unique.

Groups of riders who're very familiar with each other will develop their own style, but basic pack riding ettiquite is the same for every group. If you know an experienced road cyclist, ask for a short 'lesson' in what's expected of each rider when riding in a group. That way, you'll be a safer rider on your first group ride. If you don't know any experienced road riders, ask someone at the back of your first group to help you out with hints. Most packs will have a "mother hen" type who just loves taking care of new riders or strangers.

Remember, when using the draft, the riders behind can't really see ahead, so each is responsible to point out potential hazards in good time for the following rider to avoid. If you'll shortly be sitting up, or there's is a loose doggie ahead, or or or..it's your job to let the following riders know. Please learn this. It's a good idea to spend some time at the very back of the pack and watch how this works. Pointing out hazards becomes second nature very quickly for most riders. Trailing along at the back is also a good way to spot the flakey riders in a group. When I ride with a strange pack, I usually start a few bike lengths off the back and check out the skill levels before I totally commit myself. If I see a potential problem rider, I keep him/her in mind during the ride. Conversly, it gives the others a chance to asses your bike handling skills and fittnesss level before things "get serious"

The nature, the tone of a group ride can be vastly different, as has been stated. You just have to see how each group is going to be. I usually ask a new group to "leave me, if I am too slow" That seems to releases the group from feeling bad about maybe dropping a strange rider who's skills or fitness might not be up to the ride. On the other end of the spectrum, we've had strangers who've joined our club/team training rides and decide to "Put the hurt" on the whole group. That never works, at least with our group. When a "new guy" comes out to ride, without seeming to, the whole pack is assesing him/her. A little humility never hurts. The "pack" is like an entity..a competative entity. It hates to 'eat crow'! A large number of riders are stronger than a single rider..duh!..so if a newbie challenges our group, he gets quickly hauled back into the fold...unless he is a total jerk..then he's left out front, alone, until we, the pack, decide to slam-dunk him.

Group rides are soap operas, too. Or perhaps like a 'survivor' show. There are predictable roles in most packs. The ALPHA rider, the hill guy, the explainer, the whipping boy, etc etc. That is what makes it really fun.

A few things I'd like to see less of while rideing in a pack:

The rider who rides alongside, talking talking talking, and when the call from behind "Car Back!", comes, they just *have to* finish the paragraph, make their point, before dropping back or moving ahead to let the vehicle traffic pass. That's rude and makes us cyclists untold enemies among the vehicular crowd. Stupid to make enemies. Whatever some Saturday cyclist is saying to his 'victim" (the "listening" rider is usually pinned, by the Rapper, against the shoulder of the road, with other riders in front and in back) can certainly be delayed until that ******* in the dump truck (or whatever) is allowed to continue past on his own important journey. Remember, motorists usually think cyclists are 'weird' and we 'have too much time' and we're ******* and we're blocking thier road..etc etc. And Polar Bears think humans are food...I'd rather not piss either kind of oversize predator off needlessly.

And don't ride with an overlapping wheel when drafting. Pay attention and stay behind, all the way behind, the person you are drafting in a paceline. If it's a side wind, still stay back. I'd guess most big crashes are caused by a rider with an overlap getting his front wheel clipped, going down and everybody behind has a big problem! Even for just a second, if you stick your front tire past the guy in front, and he swerves just then, without warning to miss a hazzard, you are going down! And so may many following riders.
Mostly, have fun at this newfound sport..
Don Hanson
 
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