Kathy Riegel, Ride Chair, June 2017
I'm enjoying getting to know so many riders. Among other things, I like to learn how people got into the club, and what sort of rides they like to do. I have talked to some experienced cyclists who have been afraid to join RBC or go on a RBC ride. Some express hesitation to go on the long hilly rides. The conversations led me to writing this article to bust some myths.
Myth #1 – RBC Rides Are Only For Fast and Strong Riders
Our club consists of riders of all speeds and styles. Some like flat and short, some like a bit more distance and some hills, and others live for long distance and significant climbs. Often the same ride will have people who average 12 mph, others who average 18-20 mph+ and all speeds in between. To some, the priority is average ride speed, and to others it is smelling the roses and enjoying conversation. Members choose rides based on distance and terrain. If you can do the distance and terrain, it makes no difference how fast you go.
Myth #2 – I Must Be Fast to Do a Long Hilly Ride
A number of riders have expressed concern that they can not sustain a 15 mph average for long distances, and therefore won't consider the long hilly rides. Yikes! Where did that come from? Many regulars on the long hilly rides do not ride fast. They are out there primarily to enjoy the challenges of the terrain, and the spectacular scenery. I looked at my average speed after 'Killer Hills' – had to be less than 12 mph. Possibly less than 11 mph! A lot of folks are missing out on the RBC *gems* because of this misperception. We have some of the greatest cycling in the world in our region and if you have the time to do the long rides, the weekends become mini-vacations.
Myth #3 – If the Ride Leader is Fast and I am Not, I Should Not Choose That Ride
Hmm.. I wondered...what in the world does the ride leader's pace have to do with the price of tea in China? Leaders are there to sign people in, and to give some pre-ride instructions. Having an established ride schedule with leaders is one of our club's greatest assets. People have told me they won't go on an “Otto ride” or a “Kevin ride.” I do "Otto rides" and "Kevin rides" all the time. Otto and Kevin are fast. I am not fast. We all enjoy the same ride, and stop at the same places. That's what an RBC club ride is - shared experiences!
FYI: In 1989, very early in the club's history, it was noted in the RBC newsletter that ride leaders were not responsible for keeping people together. Instead all riders were asked to bring a map, so they could ride at their own pace, as "more people would be able to enjoy the ride if they go at their own pace."
Myth #4- Lowering My Gears is Cheating
Curious...who would one be cheating? Even if you're self-competitive, why not save your knees and your energy and have more enjoyable rides? Some of the climbs in the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier are significantly steeper than the mountain passes in Europe (much shorter of course, but steeper). Even experienced riders and racers lower their gearing for prolonged steep climbing. It means changing the rear cassette, and may require changing the rear derailleur, but that cost is modest and the payoff is immense. If you want to do the long hilly rides, consider talking to those at your local bike shop or other experienced cyclists for ways to lower your gears. It can make a huge difference in ability to do the more challenging rides and enjoy them.
Myth #5 - RBC Rides Are Not Social
Hmm...RBC rides *are* pretty social, but most of that happens during the ride. Miles fly by when we're talking with those we know, or getting to know someone new. We stop in little towns, at bakeries, and at 7-Eleven type stores, where we pick up a drink and a snack. We sit on the curb or in a shop chatting with others who are on the ride.
For the shorter rides, anyone can create a more structured "social ride" by posting a note on Meetup to bring a drink and snack to share for a tailgate. In fact, you can make any of the scheduled rides anything you'd like (e.g. sweep, tandem, social). Our Ride Chair does a huge amount of work in the off season on schedule creation and ride leader recruitment but you can make whatever you desire happen in terms of the icing on the cake!
Myth #6 – There is No Value to My Coming to A Club Ride Because I Can't Keep Up
Some have said, I can't keep up, so I just ride with my friends. Hmm...what's wrong with that statement? Each of the people I heard this from know at least six others they enjoy riding with, who ride at their pace. If you all come to the club ride, there is HUGE value – (1) to yourself, because a large part of the joy of club riding is experiencing with other club members and getting to know people and (2) to other riders – by you being on the ride, you are there for new moderate paced riders! If you and the other riders you know choose to avoid the scheduled club rides because you "can't keep up" it actually contributes to the problem. The rides are for everyone but if moderate paced riders do not come, who does it leave? - "the fast guys." If a diverse and large group comes to each ride, everyone has someone to ride with!
With a way to communicate before the ride, it is very easy to post messages that can encourage others like yourself who may be on the fence about coming to a ride. For example... "I plan to do the 30 mile cut at a moderate pace (about 13 mph avg)" or "Some of us plan to do 70 miles of this century at a moderate pace." Your RSVP alone helps. Someone who rides at your pace who has met you on a ride will know that you will be there.