Algunas pautas para el éxito en un paseo en grupo No Drop
Joining up with a new No Drop ride is an exercise in Self-Confidence that can quickly into a bout of No Confidence. There is no sport quite like cycling in that respect. When you don’t know a thing about the riders in a new group, there are tons of question marks waiting you out on the road. Such as:
Is this a smooth-riding group, or herky jerky?
The reason this matters: Riders accustomed to keeping a nice rhythm on the ride, holding their line and picking up on the draft of riders ahead of them can be thrown for a loop when a group ride is full of Yo-Yo riders who either can’t keep pace, don’t know how or don’t care. The bother of constantly having to ride back onto the group, or pulling past riders that have slowed suddenly is irksome to say the least. If the trend goes week after week, it’s best to find a completely different group. There is no cure for Herky-Jerky if people don’t learn from their mistakes.
Are people there to race?
Some No Drop rides are, in essence, a race minus the entry fees and referees. There are two local group rides in our area to which only the best riders are welcome. These rides go fast every week. People race each other in a hundred different ways. The competition to hold a wheel can be fierce, and sometimes the group spreads out over the entire road. But if you want to get good, and go fast, that’s the ride you want to join. You’re there to ride and race if necessary.
Are there Ride Marshalls?
With every group ride, there are generally some unofficially designated ride marshalls that have the authority to put things back into order when Ride Chaos breaks out. Typically these are riders with so much experience and built-up strength they can stick with any pace in any condition on any day. They may not be the outright fastest riders but they are the best conditioned, experienced, and if you chalked their wheels, could draw a straight line for well over a mile. The reason Ride Marshalls are important? There are days when competitive riders literally lose their shit out there. The group slides across both lanes of the road, or refuses to pause at stop lights. Things get crazy and unsafe when group rides don’t have a Ride Marshall or two to pull things back into shape.
Are their regulars?
No-Drop rides depend on regulars who know the course and even know the wind and road conditions. They also provide a form of consistency to the ride. Most importantly, they are an indicator that the ride is well-respected in the cycling community, not just a twice-weekly gathering where only the crazies show up. Regulars can usually be identified by club kits. If there are a couple groups of two or three riders from different clubs, that’s a sign that the ride is designed to provide real opportunities for building speed and fitness. The presence of more than one teams is a general indicator the ride is about getting better at cycling, not just stroking egos.
What to do when you get dropped
When you join up with a new No Drop ride, you may indeed get dropped at first. Take no offense. The nature of a No Drop ride is to provide the challenge you’re seeking in improving your cycling. Hang on for as long as you can each week. No one will be pissed at you for showing up so long as you don’t drop from the middle of the pack and cause everyone behind you to lose the wheel and wind up getting dropped as well. Breaks in the peloton are never welcome, so don’t cause them. Ride at the far back if you must, along with the other hangers-on.
Be smart in finding a wheel
Or be smart and tuck onto the wheel of a Ride Marshall and then concentrate. You might have trouble actually getting one of their wheels, because everyone in the group will know who they are and when desperate, will fight for that wheel as well. If you are fortunate enough to find the wheel of a Ride Marshall, they will know you are there, trust me. They know where everyone is on a group ride. So be cool. Don’t do something stupid like crossing or touching wheels, or something desperately stupid such as riding into their finely tuned machine when you roll up to a stoplight.
You will only be welcome at a fast No Drop ride if you first show respect. Only then can you earn it. Cyclists don’t always judge you on your raw ability. There are many factors that contribute to your position in the group. As you progress in form and hang on longer each week, people will notice. But it’s just as important that you get there on solid ethical ground. Hold your line mostly, and if you can’t hold a wheel, swing off and grab what you can. Don’t cost others the opportunity to stick with the group by committing to a pace you cannot logically hold. But if you do pop, swing clear and try to get in the total wake rather than falling back slowly.
Focus your attention completely on the rhythm of the ride and make absolute use of the draft at all times. Just because you feel good in the draft, you should never get cocky. Someone up ahead is doing the REAL WORK. You are just the beneficiary. Because if someone up ahead is pulling hard, there is always someone ready and able to pull even harder. That can leave you heaving where once you were just breathing. Be grateful for the pulls of others and pay attention to how long they stay on the front in case it becomes your turn to pull. Then do half what the others are doing if you’re new.
Hope you appreciate these No Drop guidelines. Many of them apply as much to experienced riders as someone new to a group. Road cyclists depend on each other to make each ride a great experience. Where triathletes pump away solo, roadies live in a community that rolls down the road. Respect it. Grow into it. Become part of it.
And ride on.