When does the ride start?
Hornchurch Cycle Club have a few “official” rides. Weekend rides in the morning and done evening rides in the week during the lighter months. Unlike the cinema, we do not provide twenty minutes of trailers and adverts, so the ride starts at the time stated. Arrive fifteen minutes early to enjoy a pre-ride chat and be ready for the briefing by the Ride Leader.
If you arrive dead-on time, you risk not knowing which group you tag onto – be warned it could be the one that breaks you!
If you’re late then it’s your responsibility. The Ride Leaders may decide to alter the advertised route due to prevailing conditions, so always ensure you arrive in good time.
What Route do you ride?
Routes are selected each week and we have a large catalogue of routes around the area to choose from – plus a few further afield. Rides with a published route will be communicated in advance via email and social media. Not all rides will have a pre-published route and some routes may change, due to conditions for example, at the discretion of the ride leader.
How does riding in a group work?
The best part of a club ride is the company you’re with. If you’re not familiar with club riding, here’s a few pointers…..
Drop/No Drop rides;
HCC endeavours to cater for all abilities. On our beginners and social rides, we will not let anyone get left behind and wait for those who are struggling to keep up.
Some rides are advertised as “Drop Rides”. These tend to be the faster rides and riders are encouraged to be honest with their own ability and only join if they are able to stick with the stated pace. Otherwise , riders who are struggling will be expected to find their own way around the route rather than spoiling the ride for the rest.
These rules do not apply to accidents or mechanical issues – when the group will always stop and take action as appropriate.
HCC aim to have a ride leader on all “official” club rides who will dictate the route and do a ride safety briefing at the start.
A Ride Leader does not mean they always lead the ride and they may not be any stronger than yourself. Share the work and try to take a turn at the front, giving you an opportunity to stretch yourself and let others refresh – so they can take a turn next time and do the same for you.
Always communicate up and down the line.
A HCC group should ride a maximum of two abreast at any time, with a few exceptions:
▪ Overtaking a single rider. On narrow lanes or when overtaking a group of two-abreast riders, single file should be considered
▪ A ride leader may move up or down the line to communicate an occurrence
Riding three or more abreast looks sloppy and does not aid the reputation of The Club when riding on local roads.
What hand signal is appropriate?
Bare in mind who you are providing a signal to. At the rear of the pack you may be indicating a movement around an obstacle, that a motorist likely won’t understand an arm behind back signal, so indicate direction by extending your arm.
Don’t be afraid to stop at lights or give way – just shout ahead
How do we stay together as a group?
When sufficient Ride Leaders are available, one will typically nominate themselves as a Lantern Rouge or Sweeper, watching the rear of the group and counting through riders.
Even without a Ride Leader, keeping track should fall to everyone on a ride, buddy up with the person beside you and watch ahead and behind. With two sets of eyes keeping track of everyone around is not onerous.
If a group gets strung out, firstly shout a “slow down” ahead, then slow to keep sight with those behind while maintaining contact with the group. This allows the disconnected rider(s) to bridge the gap and re-join.
Watch out for new and younger riders who may not understand the nature of group riding, bring them to the front of the group and help nurture their riding through your own good practice.
What happens if some of the group get stuck behind a red light?
Yes – we DO stop at red lights! And obey all other laws of the road.
If some of the group go through a green, ease the pace or stop to allow all to regroup. Equally, if the last man gets through the green, a call of “all through” sent up the line aids the ground in not slowing.
Jumping a red light is of course illegal, it also worsens the divides between drivers and cyclists as well. If you’re wearing HCC kit, you are also putting The Club into disrepute in the local area.
Red means stop, especially in club kit.
Be conscious when you get out of the saddle to climbs that you rear wheel drops back
Steer, brake and accelerate smoothly – these are not linear controls, not binary
Something else from the Social…
“I’m not riding at the pace I’m happy sustaining”
You’re struggling to hang on… We’ve all been there don’t worry, it’s part of the rich texture of your cycling life. A push beyond your comfort zone is where you learn about yourself and build cycling strength – but it’s never easy!
Communicate! Tell the others you’re finding it difficult to maintain the pace.
Dont be tempted to sit at the front for too long. While you’re using all of your strength, others are saving theirs!
Ride behind the group. Draught the other riders to reduce the effort needed to sustain group speed. If you call back a fellow rider or Ride Leader can help you onto the back of the pack where you can continue.
In a social group, communicate that you’re struggling; a fellow rider may be able to advise, or if not they can tell the group.
If you truly can’t manage any more whether on a social or non-drop ride, please ensure you call out to those around you as to your intention. Otherwise at the next corning the group could be waiting and getting cold for your arrival, assuming a puncture or worse.
It may be that you’ve seen better fitness in the past and now struggle, this happens to everyone during their career, so you need to decide how to approach this. If you once tackled a Sunday ride with gusto but can no longer, you could perhaps ride with the Social, working the techniques above to make the ride more difficult if needs be, you can help the Ride Leaders too, which is always appreciated.
Alternatively, ask on WhatsApp if there is a group ride available. With 200 members there will always be someone at your level of pace.
You could go quicker… It may be you’ve chosen the wrong group or that’ve you a great set of legs on today, but remember this is a group ride not a race or competition. Enjoy riding with your friends and try one of these techniques to practice something else while enjoying the camaraderie:
▪ Take some extra wind. Either by riding on the front (but maintaining group speed) or by helping the Sweeper. Both positions require additional effort over sitting in the pack. Helping someone back onto the pack of the pack is a great way to do some sprinting
▪ Try a noticeably higher or lower gear to introduce some pedal drills; working your legs or cardio system in a way it isn’t at your regular cadence
▪ Perhaps bring a different bike next time. Doing the same ride on a 13Kg steel commuter gives you an additional challenge over everyone else in the group
▪ Carry some bricks! Crazy but it has been done by one of our cyclists in order to introduce more resistance!