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Organized Rides – Why Sometimes They Give Bike Riders a Bad Reputation

Time for me to get up on my soapbox again. I belong to a bicycle club and we have group rides. Everyone knows each other and we are considerate to each other and to automobile drivers. We get over to the right, as safe as the road will allow and ride single file when cars approach. The state law says we can ride two abreast and we do, but when a car is coming we quickly and safely get over to single file. Now on to organized rides.

When I talk about organized rides, I am talking about rides that are put on by organizations (bike clubs, charities, whatever) that you pay a fee to ride in. I am not talking about races, I am talking about rides. I was in such a ride this past weekend. This was put on by my bike club, but it is a couple of weeks before a huge charity ride. I will explain the charity ride first.

The charity ride is called the Pan Mass Challenge, it is a one or two day ride that ends on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. It benefits a local cancer institute and it is a good charity. I have no problems with where the money goes. I do have gripes about the way the ride is set up. For an average individual you have to come up with about $4,400 dollars and you have to give the charity your credit card number when you sign up. After the ride you have about 90 days to collect your pledges or else your credit card gets charged. Some people are fortunate enough to have an employer who will match their donations so they only have to come up with $2,200. Other people ride in teams. Teams pay more, but I believe per person the cost is less (I could be wrong). Anyway the team concept is what I find annoying.

On the recent ride I did (Climb to the Clouds) there were several of these teams who were preparing for the Pan Mass. For the most part these teams were pretty good, but there were a couple of teams, that if I were a cop, I would have pulled them over and cited them. These teams would ride sometimes 3-4 abreast and pass other riders when there were cars behind them wanting to get by. Yes, I know they were teams because they all wore matching jerseys and shorts (kits in bike language). They were especially bad on some of the more narrower curvey roads. They also showed disrespect for other riders. There were a couple of cases where they would pass other riders on the right, courtesy calls for passing on the left; when passing on the left they would not make their presence known; and I personally had one ride come so close to me that he almost bumped my shoulder and handle bars. He was in a group that was moving very fast in a double pace line. Come guys this is not a race, why do you treat it as one? One town on this ride had to put a cruiser at a four way intersection because groups of riders were rolling through the four way stop.

The behavior I described above is not acceptable. If we want motorists to respect us on the road, we should be more respectful of them. Save your racing behavior for actual races. Just because you have enough money to buy an expensive bike, and matching kit so you and your riders can call yourself a team, it doesn’t make you a good rider. You are not a professional rider competing in some grand tour. You are just out on a recreational ride, put on by a charity or other organization. You got that speed racer!

One other thing, before you decide to ride in a two day charity event where you have to ride 100 miles per day, start your training early. If you haven’t ridden a bike in more than 3 years, don’t go out and buy a new bike or get your old one fixed up and start your training with only 4-6 weeks before the event. Believe me, you won’t have a happy outcome. Start training well before then and get your base mileage in. If the furthest you have ridden on your bike in one day is 10 miles the next day add 10%, leave days for rest and recovery. You probably shouldn’t push more than 4 days a week at first and never more than six. If your longest ride of the week has been 65 miles, the next week try for 72 or 73. Do some other training as well but listen to your body and make sure you get rest.


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