Most of us ride solo a lot of the time.
No scheduling conflicts, no debate on where to ride, and you can head home whenever you’re tired. On the flip side, we all intrinsically understand the benefits of riding in a group. On a group ride you’ll hear “wow, this is fun!” or “have we really been riding for two hours already?” or “holy smokes, we’re flying today!”
Unfortunately, group riding can be intimidating. One concern we hear all the time at the shop is “I don’t want to hold up the rest of the group” or “I’m not sure I can keep up.” Well, here’s the thing, it’s good to be the slow one!
This past week, Mike Van den Ham, three-time Canadian Cyclocross champion, was in town and some of us at the shop had a chance to ride with him, along with Giant Canada Off-Road Team athlete Cody Scott. There is no doubt when riding with those two who the “slow” rider is going to be!
Van den Ham and Scott are both elite riders and they could drop any of us with ease but like any good rider, when they opt for a group ride they follow the same unwritten rules as the rest of us. During our rides together they both had opportunity to push themselves but most importantly, they held back to keep the group together because a group is only as fast as its slowest rider.
So what happened to us slower riders? Were we gasping for breath, begging for water, falling over with cramps? OK, I’d be lying if there wasn’t some of that, but the overall result was universal: we all improved our riding!
Being the “slow” rider in the group provides you with the best opportunity out of anyone in the group to become a better rider. The trick is to think of it as an opportunity to good to pass up and stay positive. Take every chance to observe and imitate the fast folks.
Riding with Van den Ham and Scott is like getting a free bike clinic. Riding behind them taught the rest of us how to select smoother and faster lines when descending. We witnessed the art of maintaining speed around sharp corners; learning to go wider into the corner, cut into the apex, and come out wide again.
There are so many things to learn from your fast friends so don’t shy away from riding with them. They will have their own chances to ride fast so don’t stress about holding them up. Take advantage of this unique opportunity to improve your own skills.
Quick tip: when riding with your fast friends, it’s critical to stay on top of nutrition. Take every chance you get to take a sip of your drink and eat something. It sounds simple, but when you are being pushed a bit outside your comfort zone, nutrition is often the first thing forgotten.
– Article provided by Pedal Your World