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Settle down Ace, it's not a race. (group ride practices)

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Settle down Ace, it's not a race. (group ride practices)

Old 06-14-21, 07:31 AM
  #1  
Zaskar
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Settle down Ace, it's not a race. (group ride practices)

The opinions on this one might have a broad range ;-)

Okay, the Tucker Ride in Atlanta is a long-standing open group ride. It's a 40-mile ride listed as "very fast paced training ride, 24 mph++. Terrain is hilly..." But remember - Atlanta... home to 6 million people. We have some cars down here. The ride goes east out of town, some rural(ish) roads, but still there are intersections. Atlanta.

The group blows 4-way stops - they're mostly treated as no-stops or green lights. First guys make sure no one's entering or about to enter, group flies. That mostly makes sense. I mean, 60 riders at 24 mph will be through that pretty quickly.

This Saturday as we approached a 4-way intersection (one lane each way with lights) at 22-24 mph, we lost the green, the yellow was stale and a car was waiting to go - from left, crossing our path. I was probably 4th or 5th back, two lines... I would've made it through on a fresh red, but before the car went. But the other 50+ riders would've been blowing a red - hopefully only pissing off the driver, not reshaping the passenger side of the car.

I was going to ease up, and yell "STOPPING" but fortunately someone else did first. We all stopped. A few riders in the back *****ed "AHHH COME ON!!!" "Jesus *$&@... " One guy even flew past the group, and turned into small parking lot and looped around - like he was going so damn fast he needed a runway to land. He was shaking his head. Seemed like the guy who tells his buddies "I did 40 miles at 25 mph today". No Ace, the group did 25 mph. You hid in the back and got mad when we didn't ride like @#%^heads and your average dropped by .1 mph.

So that's the question - when do you make the call? When do you decide to tell 60 hammerheads (a relative term) to stop. Oh sure, "when it's not safe" But come on - these rides left safe miles and several mph behind.

Note: "This is why I don't do group rides" doesn't count as an answer ;-)

Last edited by Zaskar; 06-14-21 at 07:42 AM.
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Old 06-14-21, 07:58 AM
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Mass disobedience on this scale means some things need to change. Perhaps make this a sanctioned ride, where, for a nominal entry fee, proceeds going to charity, the traffic signals can be sequenced to allow the group to proceed without causing an incident. Who knows? This might be a tourist draw. A night out to watch the passing cyclists. Perhaps promote the sport.
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Old 06-14-21, 08:09 AM
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This is why I avoid some group rides. Blowing through red lights is never a good idea.
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Old 06-14-21, 08:17 AM
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Running lights will eventually get someone killed. As cyclists, we think 25mph is fast. In a car 25mph is nothing. If the front group enters on a yellow, the vast majority of the rest will be going through on red.
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Old 06-14-21, 08:36 AM
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I've always hated it when a group i'm in blows through stop lights, runs 4 ways, or turns left across lanes where there's other traffic. That's what gives cyclist a bad name to the average Joe in a car.
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Old 06-14-21, 08:56 AM
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On our big ride every may, they have local police and sheriff deputies of the counties involved at almost every intersection controlling the traffic. Partly because it's organized by the city I live in.

The other rides organized by others have some law enforcement covering intersections, but never enough.

I don't know that there is a perfect answer for your question. While some imagine that the intersection is instantly flooded with cars when their light turns green, others are probably imagining being stopped at a red light with no crossing traffic.

Here, a large number of motorist in crossing traffic are going to stop if they see a crowd of cyclists at an intersection. So it's a damned if you do and damned if you don't situation when with other cyclists.
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Old 06-14-21, 08:57 AM
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Totally with you MidTNBrad ! I just hope they spot me in the middle waving to them with that vague "Sorry! Thank You!" combo wave.

My club has an annoying - to other cyclists - habit of following road rules. If we approach an intersection and there are a few cars in line, we assume the last spot, even if there's just a couple of us.
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Old 06-14-21, 09:05 AM
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Seems reasonable. Regardless of the legality, it would have been unsafe to cross in that situation so good for the riders up front to call stopping. The guy who ran it was unsafe and the riders in the back complaining were being jerks. And the answer is, if you ride at the back, you don’t get to complain about the pace of the group. Ignore those guys.
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Old 06-14-21, 09:20 AM
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We wonder why motorists hate us.
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Old 06-14-21, 09:22 AM
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When do you make the call? That's easy: when it needs to be made. How does one "make the call" is a different and more complicated matter, but personally, I make the call based on maintaining my own personal safety, and I think every cyclist in every group has the fundamental responsibilty to do the same. Sometimes it's safer for me to stop so I don't nailed by a car, sometimes it's safer to continue so I don't get piled into by a speeding grupetto.

It's virtually never safer to blindly follow some bunch of randos without any situational awareness, so I never do that.
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Old 06-14-21, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
We wonder why motorists hate us.
Motorists hate us for existing.
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Old 06-14-21, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
Seems reasonable. Regardless of the legality, it would have been unsafe to cross in that situation so good for the riders up front to call stopping. The guy who ran it was unsafe and the riders in the back complaining were being jerks. And the answer is, if you ride at the back, you don’t get to complain about the pace of the group. Ignore those guys.
Well and succinctly put!
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Old 06-14-21, 09:28 AM
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60 riders at 22-24 is just a couple of slow semis getting away from the light. You know how irritating it is to be behind those things in your car. Not fast at all. Eventually, a driver reaching that light at the right moment will cut a swath through your paceline like a combine cutting wheat. Riders will have a change of heart, but it will be too late. Good thing you stopped.
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Old 06-14-21, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
Sometimes it's safer for me to stop so I don't nailed by a car, sometimes it's safer to continue so I don't get piled into by a speeding grupetto.
This really is the balance - trying to predict what the train behind you is expecting.

At 53, it's probably better that I let someone else make the call... I'm definitely getting more cautious as I age ;-)
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Old 06-14-21, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
Motorists hate us for existing.
I don't know but I do know cyclist around here ride 3-4 abreast, blow thru stop signs, lights, regroup at the top of climbs standing in the middle of the road.

I never had motorist problems in the 70, 80's like we have now but riding was different then, too.
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Old 06-14-21, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
Well and succinctly put!
Thanks. This is something my local ride goes through from time to time. Over the years, the route had evolved to minimize lights and left turns, but we're suddenly getting more of each due to suburban sprawl and road construction. For the most part, the group has been pretty cohesive and safe, but it only takes a couple of knuckleheads to ruin it for everyone.
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Old 06-14-21, 10:43 AM
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Complaining about the group stopping for a changing light is nonsense.
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Old 06-14-21, 10:55 AM
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Rides like that often lack strong leadership/ownership and a "chat" at the start. Rides that "nobody owns" will eventually devolve into a dangerous free for all as everyone does whatever they want.

The leader should take charge and call that crap out before the ride and during it, and ask folks to not return if they can't act right. Or threaten that you'll call up their team captain/owner and ask them get tossed.

We have a pair of 1/2 dudes that show up once in a blue moon to our weeknight worlds (race sim) and will go the wrong side of a divided stop sign divider at full bore right head on at cars as it takes them 2 seconds too long to go the right way around the corner/sign. There were words once, and they haven't come back nearly as often.
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Old 06-14-21, 12:24 PM
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That group is unsafe and they sound like a bunch of d-bags to be honest. I would not ride with them again. It's usually a few people who set the tone for the group either intentionally or unintentionally. Personally I would start my own group with a few of the guys with clear rules about stopping, re-starting and ride etiquette. Nothing chaps my azz more than riding in a group and knuckleheads up front do out of the saddle sprint starts stringing everyone out making the ride turn into closing gaps the whole time (unless that is the purpose or a training ride designed to be that way). If it's supposed to be a group ride then group dynamics need to be adhered to. If it's a "drop ride" then all bets are off...ride as an individual not a group.
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Old 06-14-21, 12:24 PM
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As has been said, you charge a fee and hire cops. That's not simple though. No real good answer really. My personal solution is to hang as far back as I can as those sorts of obstacles are approached and watch the carnage if any. I try to give myself stopping room and listen for the sound of crumpling metal or cracking carbon.

On my rides, I chew out folks who bunch up across the lane on climbs and ban them if they don't quit doing it. We stop for lights and do the Idaho Stop, now legal here, at stop signs. If part of the group misses the light, we wait or softpedal. Those practices are designed to make risk-running unprofitable.
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Old 06-14-21, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by jadocs View Post
If it's a "drop ride" then all bets are off...ride as an individual not a group.
It's definitely a drop ride. There is no waiting. If you flat, raise a hand and move over - not for help, but to prevent a crash. The group moves on. There is a group that sweeps - the slower group. The fast group is good about not bolting away from lights. But there are sudden surges and attacks that are definitely intended to blow up the group. The ride is not intended to be friendly - it's a hard training ride.

I may have made the group - and the individuals in the group - out to be something to avoid. It's not. The reason this ride is decades old is that it's really a great ride. It's that stale yellow, when to call it thing I wrestled with Saturday, and have before - on other rides too.
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Old 06-14-21, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by jadocs View Post
That group is unsafe and they sound like a bunch of d-bags to be honest. I would not ride with them again. It's usually a few people who set the tone for the group either intentionally or unintentionally. Personally I would start my own group with a few of the guys with clear rules about stopping, re-starting and ride etiquette. Nothing chaps my azz more than riding in a group and knuckleheads up front do out of the saddle sprint starts stringing everyone out making the ride turn into closing gaps the whole time (unless that is the purpose or a training ride designed to be that way). If it's supposed to be a group ride then group dynamics need to be adhered to. If it's a "drop ride" then all bets are off...ride as an individual not a group.
That's not how I read the OP. It sounds like the riders at the front did the safe thing, as did the majority of the group. There was one unsafe yahoo, and a couple of back of the train complainers.
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Old 06-14-21, 01:16 PM
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The density in the area where I live used to be a lot less forty years ago. Back than, it was about a 40 minute ride and you where pretty much out of town. In those days, rolling through a stop sign out on a farm road was not that big of deal. Now, there is urban sprawl and cars everywhere. Running stop signs are going to get someone hurt or killed.
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Old 06-14-21, 01:27 PM
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I dunno, but running stop signs does not seem very dangerous to me. I mean, who runs them with reckless disregard? We slow, check, and proceed. It seems like the safest, fastest, and most efficient way toget a group through a stop, too.
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Old 06-14-21, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Zaskar View Post
I I may have made the group - and the individuals in the group - out to be something to avoid. It's not. The reason this ride is decades old is that it's really a great ride. It's that stale yellow, when to call it thing I wrestled with Saturday, and have before - on other rides too.
Eventually, your "great ride" will meet with some person in their car who looks up from their phone long enough to see their light just turned green, then go back to texting. At that point, the 'great ride' will become a nightmare.
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