How We Run the Sunday Rides
The Sunday morning rides are our “main event”. You don’t have to call ahead or “join” to ride with us. Just show up. In times of bad weather, it is a good idea to look at the website Message Board, where calling it off, or delaying the start may be discussed. Unless otherwise announced, we do not have pre-determined routes for our rides. We discuss people’s time constraints at the meeting place, “volunteer” someone as route director, and off we go. Expect rides between 25 and 50 miles, or up to 3 hours. Pace rarely averages below 16mph (not including stops). Riders who can complete our Time Trial course in less than 40 minutes (an 18mph average speed) should have no problem riding with us on Sunday.
When riding with us in Sharon, you should be aware of three fundamental rules we use. The first two are as follows:
1. This is a group ride. While we don’t always stay within drafting distance of each other, we will stop the front to let people off the back catch up. If someone gets a flat, we stop.
2. We don’t leave people out on the road. If you start with us, expect to finish with us. If the group disappears ahead of you, don’t turn around! We will collect you eventually.
A typical Sunday ride will have 3 kinds of riders; the type “A” riders are going to stay up front no matter what, the (majority) “B” riders are going to stay with the A’s within reason, and the “C” riders are just trying to hang on. We all have days in each category, and sometimes rides where we go from an A at the start to a C by the end. The point is, we are not all the same, and we do not try to make everyone ride the same way.
The more A riders that show up, the faster the ride is going to be. It is just a natural result from having a bunch of people who all think that being near the front is important. If someone goes hard, well, they are going to go hard too. If a gap opens, they bridge it. Anything to avoid falling out of the draft or being out of contention for the next town line. The B riders will stay with the A’s generally until the next “jam”, where they will let it go and expect to regroup shortly anyway. It is not like a race — the A’s will never just take off and disappear.
We don’t do anything to restrict the speed of the front — at least in the short term. But we have a rule we have developed to keep the group together. It applies to everyone on the ride. It is critical to apply it, because we do not have marked or mapped routes. Most of the time, the leader hasn’t even decided the route until they get there, probably because they didn’t know they would be volunteering for the job!
The Gap Rule
Do not let the next rider behind you out of your sight.
This is a simple rule, but it has some complex ramifications. A simple conclusion is that if you are the last rider, you should know it, and you don’t have to worry about anyone but yourself. If you then pass someone, tell them you are the last rider, so they know they are now “it”. Another point is that “sight” matters, not distance. You can be a half-mile ahead of the next person, and you are still ok if they can see you. If they can see you, they are able to know where “the group” is, where the turns are, and so on. Now, we expect to lose sight of people for brief moments, especially when making turns. The critical thing is whether the following rider knows where the turn is. This means the following rider has a responsibility to keep their head up and watch for such things.
Once you have lost the next rider behind you, it is your responsibility to slow down (at first) to see if they catch up. Barring that, stop. If they still don’t catch up, either stay put or go back for them. If they had a flat or something, they will appreciate the company. Meanwhile, your absence will be missed, and the “stop” will percolate up to the front.
Obviously, if you decide to leave the group, and return home on your own, you will screw up the ride unless you tell someone. We will all be looking for someone who isn’t there. So if you are contemplating this on a particularly bad day, don’t leave when you are off the back, but when we next regroup. This allows the leaders to adjust the count (we take a count when we start, and count at every regroup point), and it might even give you some company if someone else decides to return early as well.
We have sometimes used FRS radios, one on the front and one with someone watching the back. This reduces the responsibility to keep things together to just two people. As we developed as a group, we found that we were sticking together so much that the radios weren’t worth their weight. So it is not common to have the radios, and the Gap Rule should be applied.
We have all been in the position of the slowest “C” rider of the day, thinking we are slowing everyone down, feeling bad about not keeping up. Yet we all were helped along by people who didn’t treat us like slugs and truly wanted us to be there. We want to be those people. Welcome to the group.