The only thing more fun than riding bikes, is riding bikes with friends. It doesn’t get any better than taking over the night’s silent streets and seeing nothing but a sea of blinking red lights ahead of your wheels. But heading out to your first group ride can be intimidating when you don’t know what to expect. In this post, we’ll get you prepped to roll out with confidence and get the most out of your first ride with a pack.
Know the Genre
Group rides come in lots of flavors. From hardcore training rides for the race set, to casual cruises for the chatty. From party rides for the peeps who never stop reveling, to themed rides for advocacy, awareness, or the quest for the most delicious donut. If you have a bike, there’s a ride out there that’s right for you!
You don’t want to show up for a slow roll only to find a hammerfest, so be sure to check out the details on the ride before you roll out! Check the ride’s facebook page, past photos, or just ask someone who’s been before what you can expect! Most rides will list the usual pace, distance, and group expectations, so it’s a great way to make sure you’re prepared for what’s in store!
Prep Your Bike
The last thing you want on a group ride is a flat or mechanical failure so, before you roll out, give your bike a solid lookover. Pump up the tires, make sure the brakes are tuned, the chain is clean, and everything’s spinning smoothly. If it’s been a while since you’ve ridden, take a spin around the block after your prep to make sure everything’s settled in and will hold up for the ride ahead!
Charge Your Gear
Lots of group rides happen at night, when people are off of work, the air’s cooling down, and the roads are clearer, but that means you need to be prepared light-wise. Be sure to charge up your lights before you head out (and bring spares if you have them to help out group members who haven’t read this post). You’ll also want a full charge on your phone in case of emergencies, and any cameras you might be bringing because group rides make for some awesome photo ops!
If the worst happens, and you get a flat or otherwise breakdown, you don’t want to have to abandon the ride! Be sure you’re loaded up with all the tools you need to handle a roadside repair: multi-tool, patch kit, spare tube, and a pump! You’ll get bonus karma if someone unprepared has a problem and you can help them out too!
The only thing left to do is show up. It can be a bit intimidating arriving at the meet-point and not knowing anybody. Don’t worry! Everyone’s felt that way and the odds are good that anybody you talk to will be excited you showed up (and thrilled that you broke the ice). Find someone with a bike, introduce yourself, and chat away! By the end of the ride, you’ll likely have a bunch of new friends and the next time you show up you’ll see someone you already know!
And that’s the basics! Now you’re ready for your first ride. Check your local shops, sites, and keep your ears open on the bike path to find a ride and check it out! It won’t be your last. Hopefully we'll see you there!