MRC group rides are conducted in one of three modes, if it is not made clear in the posting for a particular ride which mode will be used, it should be agreed upon before the group starts the ride. The details of how the ride will be conducted should be conveyed again just prior to the start of the ride, especially to fill in non-members who may show up.
The three ride modes:
1) No drop - the lead cyclists will soft-pedal/stop at agreed intervals until everyone catches up. If someone WANTS to be dropped, they MUST let the last person ahead of them know they are dropping out or taking a different route. Otherwise, all cyclists must be accounted for at the re-group point. If it makes sense to break the group into two (or more) sub-groups, the suggestion can certainly be made at the re-group point. If you flat, have a mechanical or crash the expectation is that someone will help. It would be good to have one person designated/volunteered as "ride leader".
Most MRC group rides are conducted in this fashion.
2) "Race"/Every-man-for-himself - Pretty much speaks for itself. You may/will be dropped. You should know the route and your way back to the start. You should have means to get help if needed. If you flat, you should be able to repair it on your own. If you have a mechanical or crash in the presence of your group, the expectation is that someone will help. Few MRC group rides follow this format.
3) Training Ride - On a training ride everyone rides together to acheive a specific training goal.
- That might be 45 min recovery ride -- no faster than 12 mph
- Steady Endurance staying in zone 2 for long periods at hgh cadence 95 to 105. Stay in zone 2 both up and down hills. This should be everyone's bread and butter ride. Also a good chance to practice riding a tight paceline.
- Tempo -- do some progressive intervals at high zone 3 (sweet spot) with an efficient cadence of 80. Start at 2x20 and build up.
- Strength -- stand or seated climb tempo -- gradually build to 30 mins in biggest gear and cadence of 50-55.
- LTP-- Lactate Threshold Power -- 20 minutes steady in zone 4 just under tt effort. Build to 3 to 4 reps over several weeks. Alternate rep cadence at 105 -110 and steady 90. Good paceline work.
- TTT - Team Time Trial -- ten mile loop -- clock stops when last guy comes across (so you have to ride as a team).
- Max -- Sprints --10 to 20, sprints of 10 to 15 seconds with 1:45 rest between. Do all kinds of sprints -- big gear, high RPM, attacks, finishing sprints (30+mph). Create a loop and a jump line.
- Fartlek -- last guy in line attacks for 30 seconds -- everyone chases him down.
But you get the idea. Training rides are a cooperative team workout.
Group rides start promptly at the announced time. In other words, if a ride is posted to start at 8 a.m., that is the CLIP IN and GO time. It is assumed that all participating in the ride will arrive at the start location in advance to allow for pre-ride prep (tire inflation, kit fiddling, pocket loading, etc.).
In short, arrive early, get ready, leave on time. Or chase/ride alone/ride the route backwards. A good blog post on the subject.
Ride pace should be announced in forum and start of ride. Possible ways of conveying the pace could be "20 mph avg" or "hill intervals" or "tempo". It could be announced that two groups of differing paces might form depending on who shows up.
General group ride etiquette/guidelines (most of this should be obvious, but needs to be spelled out nonetheless):
- - single up when the call of "car back" is made, make room for other cyclists to join the right-side paceline. Riders at the front should speed up a bit to let outboard riders in so paceline does not compress. Riders at the back should be prepared to slow (but don't slow automatically) in case compression occurs.
- trust the lead rider in the paceline to choose a safe path around hazards, do not drift out of paceline to get a look ahead
- point out road hazards well in advance of passing them
- communicate turns/slowing/stopping/tracks
- keep a 6" gap (is that about right?) from wheel in front of you
- don't overlap the wheel of the bike in front of you - one wobble from them will likely take you down (and those behind you)
- don't slow down or push your bike backwards as you begin to climb out-of-saddle
- when taking the lead in the paceline, keep speed consistent with the ride rider who led before you - don't accelerate
- do not ride more than two abreast
- ride through bumps, not around - but call out "rough road" if it's going to be an extended stay in the bumps
- do not ride in the opposing lane of traffic
- if you are riding a bike with aero-bars, do not use the aero-bars when in the paceline
State of MA regulations regarding operation of bicycles on roads
3/20/14: Excellent post by Richard Fries worth reading (via Jeremy Cratty): Changing Group Ride Behavior