Here’s a few basic pointers on how to approach group rides:
- Always wear a helmet. It’s definitely safer for you, sure, but also, how you feel personally about helmets is irrelevant on group rides. Wearing a helmet shows respect for the people planning and leading the ride, and for your fellow riders, who do not want to see your brains all over the pavement. Just wear a helmet, OK?
- Chill out. Most shop and social rides are about having fun, not competition. If you want to race, join a club. Otherwise, enjoy this opportunity to have fun, get some exercise, meet some people, and if you absolutely have to blow of steam, do it on the climbs.
- Be prepared. It’s always a good idea to have some basics like a patch kit or a spare tube in case you get a flat. A water bottle is also a must, and you might want a snack as well if the ride is a long one. For evening rides, be sure to bring front and tail lights. Dress for weather if it looks like rain, or wear layers if it’s chilly.
- Make sure your bicycle is in good working condition. In particular, your brakes should work and your tires should be inflated to at least 60-80psi, higher for road bikes. Check that no spokes are broken, and test the batteries on your lights.
- There is no dress code. OK, you can kit up with all the Lycra and fingerless gloves if you want, and if you want to support your local bike shop by buying all the right gear, please, go nuts. Lots of people do. But if you’re just starting out, comfortable shorts, a T-shirt or sweatshirt, and tennis shoes will probably be fine. As you ride more and talk to other cyclists, you’ll get a feel for what you need and want.
That’s pretty much it. Mostly, remember that all group rides are slightly different, so hop around to different ones, explore different parts of the city and suburbs, and meet new people. Happy riding!