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Organized & Led Group Ride On Road - Won't Do It Again

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Organized & Led Group Ride On Road - Won't Do It Again

Old 10-17-15, 02:22 PM
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Organized & Led Group Ride On Road - Won't Do It Again

To help get myself out the door I agreed to organize and lead a group ride. A local member suggested I take over a route that he used to do and sent me a link to it. It was on the road. I'm not a road biker but I agreed to do it and even drove it to make sure I knew where to go. Saturday morning comes along and a few bikers show up. A few things occurred which has led me to let the club know I won't be doing it again.

1 - People in cars are going to hate people on bikes no matter what bikes do. However some of the behavior exhibited by some in the group adds to the perception that people that bike on the road are jerks. Why? Because some of the bikers that were on this ride are jerks and reveled in it. And it turns out that this is no uncommon behavior according to them.

2 - Generally it started when I was bumped from behind when I stopped at a stop sign. Apparently this is not normal. The one who ran into me fell and got pissed. He got made because I stopped at a stop sign and he ran into me. He made the assumption that I was going to blow right through it. Why? Because that is what they do on group rides. They expect cars to stop of course but it's ok because they need to keep going. I told him to expect it again because I'm stopping at STOP SIGNS and obey the rules of the road if for no other reason than I expect cars to and I need to return the consideration.

3 - After the guy calmed down a bit and he asked "Do you ride on the road much?" "No, just the occasional organized event and if I have to a small connector." So he explains what "normal" is and it is what I've seen here and there from group rides while I have been in a car and noticed "Gee, no wonder people have attitudes...." When on a group ride it is even not uncommon for a large group to have one pull into an intersection to stop vehicles while the large group blows through. Then of course the vehicle(s), who now are pissed, have to drive behind them until they can pass. Perfect!

4 - He had no consideration for vehicles that were waiting to pass. He was defiant about it. This was HIS behavior and not everybody's so I don't want to make a generalization based on what he did.

Generally what he says is normal in a group ride is several of the things that people are cars are irritated at. We expect people in cars to behave and WATCH OUT FOR BICYCLES! yet many are out there being jerks and tearing it all down.

I am a large target. I don't need a vehicle with an attitude being given a LARGER attitude by someone and then taking it out on ME. Or my wife or family or other bikes that ride with consideration.

I contacted the person in the club and very nicely let him know I don't think I could lead a ride anymore because I would end each ride with a stomach ache. We have a fine bike path system around here so I think I'll stick to that unless it is an organized event, I'm on a solo ride, or with someone I regularly ride with that has some sense about them.

In reality I may just not be awesome enough to be a person who regularly rides in a group on the road. I'm sure people who normally ride in those groups would be all over me with justifications.
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Old 10-17-15, 02:37 PM
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Thanks a ton for being a responsible cyclist. Other responsible cyclists appreciate it it a Lot.
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Old 10-17-15, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
Thanks a ton for being a responsible cyclist. Other responsible cyclists appreciate it it a Lot.
You are welcome. Many many are responsible and I think some get caught up on doing what the group does. If one of them was to stop in a pack that are not stopping, etc. it would be chaos. I choose not to and hope I don't ever get so entitled that I do those things.
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Old 10-17-15, 02:52 PM
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I feel, though, if there's no one to model good behavior, or to shepherd the group properly, they're just going to go on being all awful. It's noble to teach, and noble to give things a good effort.

In short, you're bailing awfully quickly, and not acting like a leader. Your ride, your rules, as I see it.
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Old 10-17-15, 02:59 PM
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FWIW, I have never been involved as a rider in a group ride other than at the start of a 24-hour time trial, or a randonnee... and the biggest was Paris-Brest-Paris 1200 when the local community knows what to expect (and the largest starts are after 10pm).

I organised a group metric century once (but I didn't ride it as I set up controls), and ended up with police later knocking on my door because of the behaviour of the group. Like you, never again.

Machka and I do a lot of road riding. I can't help but think that some of the aggression we see from drivers comes from their experience with groups, and a "payback" mentality. Sadly, when we are riding a lot, we know that the cause of this aggression -- pack riders -- spend much less time on the road... they just do more damage.
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Old 10-17-15, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
I feel, though, if there's no one to model good behavior, or to shepherd the group properly, they're just going to go on being all awful. It's noble to teach, and noble to give things a good effort.

In short, you're bailing awfully quickly, and not acting like a leader. Your ride, your rules, as I see it.
I can see your point. I don't really see myself as the leader, it's just what they call it. I probably don't see myself as the "leader" because I'm new to this group and new to to riding on the road. Just a few days ago I joined the bike club so I'm leaping into an already established organization with already established riders. However based on your thoughts I may ask if those are the sort of rules I can lay down for the ride. When I lead hikes I do have a small pre-hike meeting and lay out some important items that everybody is to follow if they want to be included in the future. Should this be any different?

I accept your scolding and will see if the "leader" has that sort of rights.
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Old 10-17-15, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
FWIW, I have never been involved as a rider in a group ride other than at the start of a 24-hour time trial, or a randonnee... and the biggest was Paris-Brest-Paris 1200 when the local community knows what to expect (and the largest starts are after 10pm).

I organised a group metric century once (but I didn't ride it as I set up controls), and ended up with police later knocking on my door because of the behaviour of the group. Like you, never again.

Machka and I do a lot of road riding. I can't help but think that some of the aggression we see from drivers comes from their experience with groups, and a "payback" mentality. Sadly, when we are riding a lot, we know that the cause of this aggression -- pack riders -- spend much less time on the road... they just do more damage.
Payback mentality is correct, both from bikers and from car drivers. As it occurs it validates and encourages the behavior from all sides. Each time a sub-group or sub-culture is doing activities are are at the disadvantage (bicycles, motorcycles, etc.) a certain persecution mentality exists and the focus is on the behavior of "the other guy", who is deemed to have the advantage. I think it's great to cause "awareness" but I don't really see anybody saying "Hey bike club, welcome to our monthly meeting, now can we all do our part and be model bikers? It has to start somewhere, yo."
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Old 10-17-15, 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by WonderMonkey View Post
I can see your point. I don't really see myself as the leader, it's just what they call it. I probably don't see myself as the "leader" because I'm new to this group and new to to riding on the road. Just a few days ago I joined the bike club so I'm leaping into an already established organization with already established riders. However based on your thoughts I may ask if those are the sort of rules I can lay down for the ride. When I lead hikes I do have a small pre-hike meeting and lay out some important items that everybody is to follow if they want to be included in the future. Should this be any different?

I accept your scolding and will see if the "leader" has that sort of rights.
Oh, not scolding! I was hoping to embolden you to carry on!

As for the rules part, I'd expect that a typical club's ground rules would be first-and-foremost to obey rules of the road, so a pre-ride reminder that you expect the rules to be followed, including of the club, local, state, and federal authorities, would seem perfectly legit to me.

By all means, though, do check and see what you can do. I wouldn't bother trying to police it, but a friendly pre-ride would set the tone, and perhaps be beneficial in the short and long term.
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Old 10-17-15, 05:34 PM
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I gave up on try to organise group rides years ago. Some of the problems I encountered were in people being totally unprepared (this happened after one of my rides was featured in the outdoor section of a major newspaper). People thinking you could do a night ride on an unlit dirt road without lights of your own. I even had one person want to do a ride who didn't even have a bike. Then there were the flakes. People would phone up all excited on the Wednesday before a Saturday ride, who would lose interest in the days leading up to it. Among the ones who did show up, I had to contend with people having varied ability levels. Some who overestimated their own ability, then the others who would disappear in a cloud of dust. Oh, and the guy who turned up for a ride up a mountain and then told me he had a serious heart condition. In the end, it just wasn't worth the effort.

Now I might organise something social with some friends occasionally, but the days of inviting random strangers out for a ride are over.
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Old 10-17-15, 05:37 PM
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Usta live and ride just down the street from you, in Dayton, OP. That was over 20 years ago. Now far suburban next to rural Colorado. Way more cyclist sane and friendly. I like it much better.
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Old 10-17-15, 05:49 PM
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There's no excuse for expecting others to blow the stop signs. The one time I was bumped from behind because I stopped, at least the person who bumped me understood that they were in the wrong. IMHO, this is atypical behavior for club riding - even when they don't stop, everyone should be *ready* to stop.

Originally Posted by WonderMonkey View Post
4 - He had no consideration for vehicles that were waiting to pass.
Whether or not this was correct depends on what you're talking about. You admit that you don't ride on the roads much, so maybe YOU don't understand the rules of the road. Are you talking about them taking the entire road, or just about not singling up?
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Old 10-17-15, 06:02 PM
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I think most motorists that see a fast group in kits think cyclists won't stop. In other words they expect the group to keep moving. When I do stop it's annoying because cars either are waving for me to go or just sit expecting I go since they are stopped.

Last edited by StanSeven; 10-17-15 at 06:06 PM.
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Old 10-17-15, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
Oh, not scolding! I was hoping to embolden you to carry on!

As for the rules part, I'd expect that a typical club's ground rules would be first-and-foremost to obey rules of the road, so a pre-ride reminder that you expect the rules to be followed, including of the club, local, state, and federal authorities, would seem perfectly legit to me.

By all means, though, do check and see what you can do. I wouldn't bother trying to police it, but a friendly pre-ride would set the tone, and perhaps be beneficial in the short and long term.
I take scoldings in stride if meant well. I know you weren't really scolding but you were "just a wee bit". I like it and I like people who do it in context. I'll speak to the "people in charge" as I don't want to be the new guy trying to cause waves. I'm happy with just organizing rides on meetup.com.
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Old 10-17-15, 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Chris L View Post
I gave up on try to organise group rides years ago. Some of the problems I encountered were in people being totally unprepared (this happened after one of my rides was featured in the outdoor section of a major newspaper). People thinking you could do a night ride on an unlit dirt road without lights of your own. I even had one person want to do a ride who didn't even have a bike. Then there were the flakes. People would phone up all excited on the Wednesday before a Saturday ride, who would lose interest in the days leading up to it. Among the ones who did show up, I had to contend with people having varied ability levels. Some who overestimated their own ability, then the others who would disappear in a cloud of dust. Oh, and the guy who turned up for a ride up a mountain and then told me he had a serious heart condition. In the end, it just wasn't worth the effort.

Now I might organise something social with some friends occasionally, but the days of inviting random strangers out for a ride are over.
The bonus about the club I led this ride for was that the ride levels and such are clearly published and most people are aware of what's what. I'm sure the occasional issue like you pointed out that you experienced will still occur but I would not expect it to happen too often.

I just heard back from the person who takes the ride information and puts it on the site and he was thankful that I volunteered and thankful that I would continue to do so on the bike path and went on to say that certain behavior is very ingrained in bike culture in small pockets and they continue to address it. He asked me for names but I refused and told him that until I set the proper pre-ride expectation I would not do any kind of enforcement.
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Old 10-17-15, 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
There's no excuse for expecting others to blow the stop signs. The one time I was bumped from behind because I stopped, at least the person who bumped me understood that they were in the wrong. IMHO, this is atypical behavior for club riding - even when they don't stop, everyone should be *ready* to stop.

Whether or not this was correct depends on what you're talking about. You admit that you don't ride on the roads much, so maybe YOU don't understand the rules of the road. Are you talking about them taking the entire road, or just about not singling up?
You are correct on my inexperience and I tried to be mindful of me being a fish out of water yet expecting everybody to swim in the same currents. Different times when he could line up and didn't I'd just simple say "Car coming" "He'll live.." or just nothing and I'd speed up to make it easy for him to come over and he'd just stay out there. Didn't care. It wasn't for safety to ensure no passing dangerously it was that he didn't care. That's MY read anyway. I'm sure he was thinking "Rookie..." on me but I don't actually know his thoughts.
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Old 10-17-15, 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by StanSeven View Post
I think most motorists that see a fast group in kits think cyclists won't stop. In other words they expect the group to keep moving. When I do stop it's annoying because cars either are waving for me to go or just sit expecting I go since they are stopped.
I know when I see a group approaching I keep going but keep an eye out because I know the possible behavior.
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Old 10-17-15, 07:01 PM
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Sounds like the guy with whom you got into a 'discussion' was quite a bit outside of the norms with which I'm familiar for group riding. But your expectations may have been a little out of the norms for the group as well. For example, in our club we slow down for stop signs to check for cross traffic, but generally don't come to a full stop if there isn't any. But we do have one ride leader who does come to a complete, foot down, stop at each one. He announces that at the start of each ride he leads and also makes sure to signal that he's slowing/stopping to the riders behind him. We also encourage riders to facilitate passing by motorists when it's safe by calling out 'car back' and moving right and into single file (if not already). If we observe that a rider is repeatedly hindering passing where it would otherwise be safe then other members on the ride will discuss it with them since we do want to maintain good relationships with other road users in the area.

You might want to give the ride leader role another try after discussing the group expectations with some of the more experienced ride leaders in your club. I'd expect it to be perfectly reasonable to have a little announcement before the ride setting out how you prefer rules to be followed so the other riders know what to expect and hopefully can modify their behavior at least to some extent.
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Old 10-17-15, 07:15 PM
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I hate group rides, for the reasons noted by the OP. However, I think if he wants to lead rides, he should get a few more miles under his belt. Authority speaks, and shapes the group dynamic.
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Old 10-17-15, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
Sounds like the guy with whom you got into a 'discussion' was quite a bit outside of the norms with which I'm familiar for group riding. But your expectations may have been a little out of the norms for the group as well. For example, in our club we slow down for stop signs to check for cross traffic, but generally don't come to a full stop if there isn't any. But we do have one ride leader who does come to a complete, foot down, stop at each one. He announces that at the start of each ride he leads and also makes sure to signal that he's slowing/stopping to the riders behind him. We also encourage riders to facilitate passing by motorists when it's safe by calling out 'car back' and moving right and into single file (if not already). If we observe that a rider is repeatedly hindering passing where it would otherwise be safe then other members on the ride will discuss it with them since we do want to maintain good relationships with other road users in the area.

You might want to give the ride leader role another try after discussing the group expectations with some of the more experienced ride leaders in your club. I'd expect it to be perfectly reasonable to have a little announcement before the ride setting out how you prefer rules to be followed so the other riders know what to expect and hopefully can modify their behavior at least to some extent.
Thanks for the voice of experience. If I group led it would be "all riders stop, regardless" which doesn't seem to be anything like normal. I suppose if that is how the group rides I lead are to go then people have the choice to attend. I won't be insulted, it's a choice and everybody has to enjoy as they see fit.
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Old 10-17-15, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by skye View Post
I hate group rides, for the reasons noted by the OP. However, I think if he wants to lead rides, he should get a few more miles under his belt. Authority speaks, and shapes the group dynamic.
I'd have to get more ROAD miles for sure. Maybe if I did my view of what happens would become "normal".
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Old 10-17-15, 09:06 PM
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I seldom ride in groups, but when I do, if we had to come to a full stop at every stop sign and proceed one at a time, everyone-- cars and cyclists alike-- would begin to fill with rage. Nobody likes waiting. That said, I don't "blow" stop signs. Blowing a stop sign to me implies just going head-down, full-bore through the intersection without regard for anyone, yourself included. I don't stop at every intersection, because I'm not a masochist. If the intersection is empty, I roll it. If there's cross traffic, I wait my turn and go-- but I generally don't full stop, I keep rolling.

Yeah, members of an unfamiliar group expecting you to follow their norms is ridiculous (as you don't know them, and they don't know you,) but it seems like everybody needs to be a bit more flexible.
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Old 10-17-15, 09:21 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
I seldom ride in groups, but when I do, if we had to come to a full stop at every stop sign and proceed one at a time, everyone-- cars and cyclists alike-- would begin to fill with rage. Nobody likes waiting. That said, I don't "blow" stop signs. Blowing a stop sign to me implies just going head-down, full-bore through the intersection without regard for anyone, yourself included. I don't stop at every intersection, because I'm not a masochist. If the intersection is empty, I roll it. If there's cross traffic, I wait my turn and go-- but I generally don't full stop, I keep rolling.

Yeah, members of an unfamiliar group expecting you to follow their norms is ridiculous (as you don't know them, and they don't know you,) but it seems like everybody needs to be a bit more flexible.
It's probably me then. I'll stop at all stop signs. When driving a vehicle I don't like it when cars roll through even if they have miles of visibility so I won't do it on a bike. Again like I mentioned up there somewhere if I rode with a group a bunch maybe it would become the norm and I wouldn't think a thing about it, if done with sanity.
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Old 10-17-15, 10:08 PM
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First off, good on you for being willing to be a ride leader!

In my club, the ride leader gets to set the rules and expectations and has to be the enforcer or have other members who are willing to help enforce them. One particular ride it was made clear that some riders were not welcome back if they weren't willing to follow the rules.
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Old 10-18-15, 05:32 AM
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I used to lead and attend a lot more club rides but cut down the number precisely because of behavior you describe. Of note, there was one fairly regular guy who would block cars just for the hell of it. One year, during our club ride to Brooklyn, he started to ride across the footpath of a bridge where you were required to walk your bike. He nearly got a ticket from the bridge troll. He would do stuff like that because he had some chip on his shoulder. I was so happy when he moved away.

The way I dealt with bad behavior on my rides was to say things to people and make sure they knew I was serious. Between that, being a sticker for starting on time, and the fact that I lead rides that require some travel, I only get small turnouts of people who, for the most part, don't do stupid s**t. My reputation precedes me, and I am happy for that.

As for bad behavior on rides led by others, there are many rides I simply will not go on because they are too large and the leaders only pay lip service to proper, safe and courteous riding. Indeed, some of the leaders of such rides can be the worst offenders.

The whole thing is really a damn shame.
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Old 10-18-15, 05:35 AM
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indyfabz
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Originally Posted by milkbaby View Post
First off, good on you for being willing to be a ride leader!

In my club, the ride leader gets to set the rules and expectations and has to be the enforcer or have other members who are willing to help enforce them. One particular ride it was made clear that some riders were not welcome back if they weren't willing to follow the rules.
Our club says that is supposed to happen but it almost never does. One former president used to lead a lot of large rides where poor riding was the norm. I never once saw him say anything to anyone, and the same people showed up and did the same dumb stuff week after week. He did dub stuff himself. I stopped going on his rides because they were too scary. I don't like feeling like I need to spend half the time protecting myself from other riders.
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