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How you approach 'event' rides

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

How you approach 'event' rides

Old 07-05-21, 02:18 PM
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CoogansBluff
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How you approach 'event' rides

I rode in a metric century on July 4. Had about 800 riders. Pretty fun. Just curious how other cyclists view them. Do you like to get into groups? Or do you enjoy it when you're more off to yourself? Or just come what may? Are you concerned about your time/speed?

Difference in cycling and running events is the choice to be in a group. I guess that's not entirely true, as some runners might stick together. But in cycling, the choice is more significant. You'll go faster if you're in a group by drafting, of course. Could go a lot faster, like 2-3 mph, if you work hard to ensure you're constantly sucking wheel. Unless it's a preplanned group, you might have to work at that because groups of riders are constantly evolving, coming together, breaking up. There's also the social part of a group in these 'event' rides. Had one rider tell me she was riding to make friends or at least to enjoy the fellowship. This was after we'd experienced the same phenomenon of a group leaving us. She described it as ''getting dropped.'' I described it as ''letting them go.''

If you're by yourself, as I suddenly was, you don't have to pay attention to other cyclists as much and can more easily enjoy the scenery. Lots of rural roads and tobacco fields I passed Sunday. Saw at least one ostrich. Maybe a llama. Sometimes I was a quarter of a mile from the nearest rider such that if I didn't have a GPS I could've gotten lost by missing a turn.

At one rest stop, a guy that I knew saw me and asked if I wanted to ride with them. I said yes, but then after a few miles, another faster group passed us, and I decided I wanted to go faster and hopped on their train for a bit and didn't see the old group again. Felt a little guilty. But that was more enjoyable in the end.

Later, there evolved a line of about 8 riders, but it wasn't an ''official'' pace line because anytime anyone wanted to surge for whatever reason, be it a hill or a sudden burst of energy, they would. So at point point, I'm #2 in line, and the one in front of me moves to the middle of the road. After a bit, I slowly began to fill the gap to her right. She's briefly startled and nicely says, 'Let me know when you're going to to do that.' I apologize, and agree I should've announced my approach. On the other hand, I'm thinking, why would you strangely move to the center? The point there is that if you decide to group up, you've got to think about stuff like that. The etiquette and expectations aren't exactly the same as your weekly Wednesday ride with your usual troops.

Lot of that is reverie, but interested to know how others approach and experience 'event' rides. In the end, there are lots of ways to have fun with them.
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Old 07-05-21, 02:55 PM
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I only do event rides as I want to ride a different area, on different roads than my everyday. I don't typically join a paceline group as 1) I don't know the skillset of the riders and 2) I usually don't care if I gain 2 MPH on the avg. What might change this if a course has a big wind element and joining the back of a group helps with the wind.

When I did the Bike Tour of Colorado, I would almost never ride in a group, (only once on the last 10 miles into Gunnisom on a flat road). It's very easy to get sucked into a tempo that see's you riding harder than you should, on a ride that has a week of 75 miles per day. You really need to pay attention to effort level on multi-day rides so that you don't burn out. One day events, not as much worry, though I did make the mistake on one of my earliest centuries of hanging on a racing group doing the ride for fun. I was hammered at mile 85.
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Old 07-05-21, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
I only do event rides as I want to ride a different area, on different roads than my everyday. I don't typically join a paceline group as 1) I don't know the skillset of the riders and 2) I usually don't care if I gain 2 MPH on the avg. What might change this if a course has a big wind element and joining the back of a group helps with the wind.

When I did the Bike Tour of Colorado, I would almost never ride in a group, (only once on the last 10 miles into Gunnisom on a flat road). It's very easy to get sucked into a tempo that see's you riding harder than you should, on a ride that has a week of 75 miles per day. You really need to pay attention to effort level on multi-day rides so that you don't burn out. One day events, not as much worry, though I did make the mistake on one of my earliest centuries of hanging on a racing group doing the ride for fun. I was hammered at mile 85.
Good points. This particular ride for me was half in half. It was near me, and went on some roads that I frequent, but probably 1/2 were miles I'd never or rarely ridden. The more 'exotic' the course, the more you want to see it at your own pace without distraction of the peloton you've found yourself in.

As for gaining 2 mph, I made that decision Sunday, that I didn't need to go faster. The one time I joined a faster group wasn't to go faster, per se, but to go the speed I wanted, which happened to be faster than the one the previous group was going. But next month, I'm doing a 100-miler, so I might have to consider drafting more than I did Sunday to help me ride it in comfort. Don't need to go fast, but I do need to enjoy it. Nothing worse than the final 10 miles of an 'event' when you're totally zonked.
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Old 07-05-21, 04:01 PM
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There are a number of these rides in our area. I've done a few - depending on the size, there is usually a sizable group up front that you can organize into a decent rotating pace line. At the bigger ones, the front group seems to treat it like a race. One I did a few weeks ago featured attacks on a gravel section, a couple of teams in the final selection, more attacks, and those of us in the front group who were solo chasing the 3 man attack that had two local teams represented. It was tremendous fun. Other groups form and are way more relaxed, and the smaller events will have less speed / race-like aspect.
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Old 07-05-21, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by CoogansBluff View Post
Difference in cycling and running events is the choice to be in a group. I guess that's not entirely true, as some runners might stick together. But in cycling, the choice is more significant. You'll go faster if you're in a group by drafting, of course. Could go a lot faster, like 2-3 mph, if you work hard to ensure you're constantly sucking wheel. Unless it's a preplanned group, you might have to work at that because groups of riders are constantly evolving, coming together, breaking up. There's also the social part of a group in these 'event' rides. Had one rider tell me she was riding to make friends or at least to enjoy the fellowship. This was after we'd experienced the same phenomenon of a group leaving us. She described it as ''getting dropped.'' I described it as ''letting them go.''

The etiquette and expectations aren't exactly the same as your weekly Wednesday ride with your usual troops.
I'm finding this interesting. I'm planning to do my first century (probably) next June. I have experience in organized runs having done everything from 5Ks to full marathons where I've ran with members of my group or have ran alone but mingled with others and have used conversation to make the miles pass by easier. Smaller races I've known where to seed myself based on my pace and larger races have done that for me using corrals based on expected finish time. But I will enter this ride alone and how to fit into the flow and not negatively impact the experience for others worries me more than the distance.

I don't mean to thread-jack, but that one paragraph made me realize that there will be other loners like me and hopefully there will be other useful posts to help me put my mind at rest as far as this is concerned.
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Old 07-05-21, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Chuck M View Post
I'm finding this interesting. I'm planning to do my first century (probably) next June. I have experience in organized runs having done everything from 5Ks to full marathons where I've ran with members of my group or have ran alone but mingled with others and have used conversation to make the miles pass by easier. Smaller races I've known where to seed myself based on my pace and larger races have done that for me using corrals based on expected finish time. But I will enter this ride alone and how to fit into the flow and not negatively impact the experience for others worries me more than the distance.

I don't mean to thread-jack, but that one paragraph made me realize that there will be other loners like me and hopefully there will be other useful posts to help me put my mind at rest as far as this is concerned.
That's not thread-jacking, those are pertinent thoughts. I imagine most cyclists in these events are loners to the extent that they arrive alone with no plans to be with a specific group ahead of time, but I'm not sure of how that breaks out. Maybe there are more planned groups than I realize. I've never done that.

The best thing about these events is perhaps that you can tailor it to what you want. There's plenty of opportunity to mingle and chat with other cyclists, or be in groups that operate like a regular group ride, and it's also pretty easy to get on your own enjoy the scenery and the atmosphere from a distance. Saw one of my group-ride buddies ahead of time who had a specific goal speed in mind. Saw him afterward, and he met that goal. Never saw him in between. You can sample all those experiences and decide which one you want to settle into.
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Old 07-05-21, 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Chuck M View Post
But I will enter this ride alone and how to fit into the flow and not negatively impact the experience for others worries me more than the distance.
Also, the story that I mentioned about the other rider cautioning me about coming on her right, that was no big deal. My only point was that if you get in a group, you do invest some energy and attention into the group at the expense of other things you might be enjoying. It's a tradeoff.
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Old 07-05-21, 05:05 PM
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Whenever I've done 'event' rides, I've usually kept to myself, ridden alone and not gotten into any drafting situations. I just prefer riding alone.

Well, except that one time. I rode a Century, and at about Mile 92, facing a stiff headwind, I latched onto the tail of some riders who were definitely younger and fitter than I was. I didn't ask and I didn't get into their rotation either. But I did say "Thanks!" when I finally let go.
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Old 07-05-21, 05:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Chuck M View Post
I'm finding this interesting. I'm planning to do my first century (probably) next June. I have experience in organized runs having done everything from 5Ks to full marathons where I've ran with members of my group or have ran alone but mingled with others and have used conversation to make the miles pass by easier. Smaller races I've known where to seed myself based on my pace and larger races have done that for me using corrals based on expected finish time. But I will enter this ride alone and how to fit into the flow and not negatively impact the experience for others worries me more than the distance.

I don't mean to thread-jack, but that one paragraph made me realize that there will be other loners like me and hopefully there will be other useful posts to help me put my mind at rest as far as this is concerned.
I don't really do organized rides like this any more, but the approach doesn't need to be complicated or intimidating. In my area, most of these rides aren't going to have too many tightly knit pacelines - maybe avoid the one of two where you'll clearly feel like a hanger-on - but they'll often have some larger, reasonably fast groups with a small rotation of people pulling at the front. Get in close enough to benefit from the draft, and scope people out for a few miles. The biggest thing, IMO, is picking out the squirrels that you'll want to stay from. If, after getting the feel for the pack, you want to contribute up front, make your way up. If not, that's probably cool, too - the handful driving the pace probably don't have any expectations from each person latched on.
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Old 07-05-21, 05:35 PM
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I actually enjoy the drifting in/out of various groups/fellowships and the alone time between them. If it's a climbing/up and down ride, that's going to happen. Enjoy the ebb and flow.
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Old 07-05-21, 07:14 PM
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too many unwritten rules & vehicle risks riding in a group in my area. I roll solo.
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Old 07-06-21, 12:06 AM
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I enjoy most group rides and just ride my own pace. Usually I'll find one or a few compatible folks and we'll ride more or less together and chatter some. I participate in several free, loosely organized group rides every year.

But I don't care for the vibe many event organizers put on some t-shirt rides. Maybe I'm a wet blanket but the MS150 event annoys me. If I support an organization I'll just donate money or support them some other way. The whole thing of dozens of people on Facebook begging each other for money to support the same cause makes no sense. And while I'm mostly agnostic now and haven't attended church in 20 years, the whole vibe of flaunting our do-gooding is the opposite of what we were taught about discretion in our charitable activities.

And let's be realistic -- why the emphasis on MS? There are far worse ailments, far more common, with better likelihood for improved medical outcomes, that go unnoticed. The MS150 seems like this era's version of the 1950s-'60s Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon, a grotesque affair with a maudlin host becoming more insufferable with each passing hour.
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Old 07-06-21, 02:05 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Maybe I'm a wet blanket ...
No, you're not a wet blanket. A wet blanket wouldn't have such a negative attitude.
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Old 07-06-21, 05:47 AM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
Well, except that one time. I rode a Century, and at about Mile 92, facing a stiff headwind, I latched onto the tail of some riders who were definitely younger and fitter than I was. I didn't ask and I didn't get into their rotation either. But I did say "Thanks!" when I finally let go.
Not possible they were younger and fitter, if at mile 92 they were still around you and able to be latched on to.
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Old 07-06-21, 07:25 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
I enjoy most group rides and just ride my own pace. Usually I'll find one or a few compatible folks and we'll ride more or less together and chatter some. I participate in several free, loosely organized group rides every year.

But I don't care for the vibe many event organizers put on some t-shirt rides. Maybe I'm a wet blanket but the MS150 event annoys me. If I support an organization I'll just donate money or support them some other way. The whole thing of dozens of people on Facebook begging each other for money to support the same cause makes no sense. And while I'm mostly agnostic now and haven't attended church in 20 years, the whole vibe of flaunting our do-gooding is the opposite of what we were taught about discretion in our charitable activities.

And let's be realistic -- why the emphasis on MS? There are far worse ailments, far more common, with better likelihood for improved medical outcomes, that go unnoticed. The MS150 seems like this era's version of the 1950s-'60s Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon, a grotesque affair with a maudlin host becoming more insufferable with each passing hour.
Yeah, that's pretty grumpy, but I enjoyed reading your candid take on it and understand why it's not your thing.
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Old 07-06-21, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
the whole vibe of flaunting our do-gooding is the opposite of what we were taught about discretion in our charitable activities.
Likely many different reasons why people flaunt it. I'm sure many know those reasons, & will never be truthful as to what those reasons are.
My time here is not to impress people like that; I value my time differently.
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Old 07-06-21, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by CoogansBluff View Post
Yeah, that's pretty grumpy, but I enjoyed reading your candid take on it and understand why it's not your thing.
Eh, it's not my thing, either. In almost all cases, if your primary goal is to support The Cause (MS, cancer, save the whales, whatever) you're far better off donating to the organization directly and skipping their charity ride. More money will end up in the charity's coffers and you'll avoid the awkwardness of asking friends, family, coworkers, etc. for donations.
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Old 07-06-21, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by road292 View Post
Eh, it's not my thing, either. In almost all cases, if your primary goal is to support The Cause (MS, cancer, save the whales, whatever) you're far better off donating to the organization directly and skipping their charity ride. More money will end up in the charity's coffers and you'll avoid the awkwardness of asking friends, family, coworkers, etc. for donations.
You don't have to solicit donations from others -- you can donate the money yourself and still do the ride.
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Old 07-06-21, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
You don't have to solicit donations from others -- you can donate the money yourself and still do the ride.
Sure, that's an option. If you're OK with the total amount of entry fee + self-donations, then go for it. My point was that if your goal is to get money to the charity, then donating directly is more efficient.

These days, charity rides around me seem to have required (and enforced) minimum total donation amounts that, IMHO, are surprisingly large -- hundreds of dollars or more.
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Old 07-06-21, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by CoogansBluff View Post
I rode in a metric century on July 4. Had about 800 riders. Pretty fun. Just curious how other cyclists view them. Do you like to get into groups? Or do you enjoy it when you're more off to yourself? Or just come what may? Are you concerned about your time/speed?

Difference in cycling and running events is the choice to be in a group. I guess that's not entirely true, as some runners might stick together. But in cycling, the choice is more significant. You'll go faster if you're in a group by drafting, of course. Could go a lot faster, like 2-3 mph, if you work hard to ensure you're constantly sucking wheel. Unless it's a preplanned group, you might have to work at that because groups of riders are constantly evolving, coming together, breaking up. There's also the social part of a group in these 'event' rides. Had one rider tell me she was riding to make friends or at least to enjoy the fellowship. This was after we'd experienced the same phenomenon of a group leaving us. She described it as ''getting dropped.'' I described it as ''letting them go.''

If you're by yourself, as I suddenly was, you don't have to pay attention to other cyclists as much and can more easily enjoy the scenery. Lots of rural roads and tobacco fields I passed Sunday. Saw at least one ostrich. Maybe a llama. Sometimes I was a quarter of a mile from the nearest rider such that if I didn't have a GPS I could've gotten lost by missing a turn.

At one rest stop, a guy that I knew saw me and asked if I wanted to ride with them. I said yes, but then after a few miles, another faster group passed us, and I decided I wanted to go faster and hopped on their train for a bit and didn't see the old group again. Felt a little guilty. But that was more enjoyable in the end.

Later, there evolved a line of about 8 riders, but it wasn't an ''official'' pace line because anytime anyone wanted to surge for whatever reason, be it a hill or a sudden burst of energy, they would. So at point point, I'm #2 in line, and the one in front of me moves to the middle of the road. After a bit, I slowly began to fill the gap to her right. She's briefly startled and nicely says, 'Let me know when you're going to to do that.' I apologize, and agree I should've announced my approach. On the other hand, I'm thinking, why would you strangely move to the center? The point there is that if you decide to group up, you've got to think about stuff like that. The etiquette and expectations aren't exactly the same as your weekly Wednesday ride with your usual troops.

Lot of that is reverie, but interested to know how others approach and experience 'event' rides. In the end, there are lots of ways to have fun with them.
I saw video from the Firecracker ride of past years and chose not to participate. I won my class at regional TT's and considered trying it riding along just for the timed segment hunt thing they offered. Ride easy to the segment they time, TT it, then ride easy back. But, I didn't.

I just don't enjoy being in something where I see video posted online of people swerving way over the center yellow line and doing all manner of things I wouldn't want to be around.

I do weeknight worlds up in Wake Forest once a month. It's all out war. But we keep it our side of the center yellow and there is some amount of order.

Now, in the videos I've seen there were also lots of friendly and well behaved riders acting safely. I'd have no issue with that. So if I did do a flatter fondo like Firecracker, I'd likely organize with friends ahead of time so we stayed together as a known group and form an organized and orderly line or rotation.

I feel like the mountainous fondos that have stopped keeping your "total time" and do the climbing segments would be what I'd do. No reason to race around, the cutoff to the next climb is super generous. Then you can "race" up the climb at likely a maximum of still pretty slow speed in a safe manner. And there's zero incentive to descend risky given the generous time cutoffs and that total time doesn't matter.

I wound up doing a solo "fondo" just linking up all the Raleigh hills I know off hand paired with a coffee stop and bottle refills at the house. I think it was 64mi and 6000 feet. I had a good time just doing my thing.
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Old 07-06-21, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by road292 View Post
Sure, that's an option. If you're OK with the total amount of entry fee + self-donations, then go for it. My point was that if your goal is to get money to the charity, then donating directly is more efficient.
In the case of the MS150 (and every charity ride I do) the money does go directly to the charity.
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Old 07-06-21, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
Not possible they were younger and fitter, if at mile 92 they were still around you and able to be latched on to.
Maybe they started later than he did.
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Old 07-06-21, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by big john View Post
Maybe they started later than he did.
Or they were riding one of the shorter loops. I didn't ask, just like I didn't ask before drafting them.
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Old 07-06-21, 02:27 PM
  #24  
GhostRider62
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I tend to ride with several riders or solo. I won't ride with squirrels or people who want to stop for a long period of time. Riding in a big pack of riders on unfamiliar roads is too dangerous for my risk tolerance, so, I generally just go up ahead to play it safe.
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Old 07-06-21, 02:33 PM
  #25  
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I've done a few event rides, like maybe 35 or 40 of them. I've gone to them alone and I've gone with a group from my club. When with the club I try to stay with them but when I go alone I approach the ride as if I am going to ride alone. I never get in a paceline of strangers. I avoid other riders on descents. I'm never concerned with time or speed. I will talk to a lot of people and I will pull for people who seem to need a little help. It's for fun, it's not a race, and there are always those of dubious ability and those macho idiots who cause trouble.
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