Basically, I dislike group rides. Well, to be honest, I dislike group riders. Maybe that's the same as disliking group rides, but I think there is a difference. Just so you don't think I dislike everybody, because I am an outgoing person I try to like everybody. But, for reasons outlined below I dislike most group rides. Well, riders.
Again, I have to qualify my statement. I really like doing groups rides with the pros, especially when I am in shape enough to be able to keep up the entire ride. You see, the pros are, well, pros. They don't have anything to prove to me or any other riders except other pros and their sponsors(and potential sponsors).
Because they have nothing to prove when they go group riding they actually ride like they are in a group. With the pros we usually ride two-by-two and while we go pretty fast these guys are so smooth we are actually not working that hard and can carry on interesting conversations. Yes, talking to each other. It is a group ride after all.
The pros save their toughest workouts for when they ride solo. These guys spend so much time on the bike that when they are lucky enough to have someone to ride with they keep the pace manageable and have some social interaction with the other cyclists.
The non-pros are a different story. The riders I have the most trouble with are those that treat any ride with more than one person as a de-facto race. If there are more than two riders then a paceline is almost mandatory. These guys are on the edge the entire ride trying to keep the pace as high as possible. There is very little opportunity to chat let alone sit up and enjoy the scenery.
To be sure, there are group rides in every city or town that are known to be de-facto races. Obviously, given what I have been saying here, you would never catch me on one of those rides. However, when a group of cyclists decide to get together and go out for a ride that doesn't necessarily make it game on.
Which brings me to the reason I am writing this blog. Last week a friend of mine and I were up in NorCal riding with a group. What started out as a nice, moderate group ride deteriorated into a single file paceline, every man for himself training ride. Now, I should mention that my friend has won a grand tour as well as four or five other major professional stage races. His street cred on a bike is not in question.
When I expressed to my friend my dislike of how this ride had deteriorated he told me that he had the perfect solution to the problem. When we reached a town he informed the other riders that he was stopping for lunch. The others responded in disbelief so we bade them farewell and sat down for a delicious Mexican feast. The ride home was fun and enjoyable and we still got in our 90 miles. Now that's what I call a group ride.