HOW NOT TO RIDE IN A GROUP!
I've written a few things on the web-site about riding in a group, such as this article. When it's done well, it's a very enjoyable and inspiring experience. When it's done badly it can be a nightmare! And that's doubly so if you are the person who has organised the ride! Here I've published a story from a young guy (well, young by my standards anyway!), who has the task of organising - and leading - rides for a particular group that he is a member of. Although I haven't been on any of his rides (he lives a fair way from where I live), I reckon he's doing a great job of getting these rides together. So it's disappointing when riders who join these rides behave in totally the wrong way. His story was first printed in a circular email that went out to other members of the group. I suppose it's a bit of a rant, but I think a well-justified one! The story is worth repeating here as a note to all riders who participate in group rides: this is definitely not the way to do it! So if you go on a group ride, think of this story, think of the frustration of the poor guy who put so much time and effort into organising it, and took the responsibility of leading it. Think about it, read my article on group rides, and just think of basic common-sense and courtesy. I've not mentioned his name, or the name of the organisation, to protect his privacy, and to protect the reputation and image of the organisation. From what I know of it, this is not typical behaviour of members of the organisation, although like any large group, there are always people who don't follow rules and common courtesy. When I organise rides I put a lot of time and effort into planning the routes and writing up the information about the ride, and that always includes very clear instructions about corner markers, not overtaking within the same lane, not passing the lead-rider, and using the Buddy System. For those unfamiliar with the Buddy System, or who may have forgotten, the Buddy System just means you check your mirrors every few minutes to make sure you can still see the rider behind you. If you lose sight of them, you slow down, and if they don’t catch up you turn around and go back to make sure they’re okay. On a recent ride on the Putty Road, I almost thought no-one had read a single word I had written! On the way to Grey Gums, I was overtaken within the same lane by another rider within our group, while I was acting as lead-rider. When we refueled at Broke, we agreed to regroup at Windsor. Soon after leaving Broke I was overtaken once again, while still acting as leader. Shortly afterwards, I lost sight of the rider behind me in my mirrors. I slowed, stopped and turned around, at which point the other riders arrived and went straight past me. I quickly lost sight of those riders. I caught up to them again when we rejoined the Putty Rd, and overtook a few of them between there and Grey Gums, however I was never able to resume my position as ride leader at the front of the group. It’s a little strange trying to act as ride leader from the middle of the group! Shortly after we again passed Grey Gums, the riders behind me overtook me again, and I again became the last rider in the group. A couple of minutes later I lost sight of the rest of the riders and did not see them again! I then rode for over 50km by myself, on a road with a bad reputation for accidents, in an area with absolutely zero mobile phone coverage. No-one could see me in their mirrors. No-one slowed to wait for me to catch up. No-one stopped or turned around to check on me. The Buddy System was completely disregarded. This is absolutely disgraceful and these riders know better! We had a number of riders with us who are not members of our group. I wonder what they thought of our group after that ride? As I said above, it is not easy for me to make the time to organise these rides. To then have riders completely disregard the Buddy System, not to mention the effort I have put into trying to ensure the ride proceeds smoothly and safely, is disappointing and to be honest it is insulting. If I am to continue in the role of ride coordinator, I expect to see better behaviour from riders on future rides. When I got home from that ride, I was ready to sell my bike and quit the group altogether. If this happens again on the next ride, someone else had better be ready to take over as ride-coordinator. It's easy to understand his frustration isn't it! I had a similar experience - well, in respect of being lead-rider and ending up riding on my own - when I organised a charity ride a few years ago. The ride split in two from the start partly because riders had arrived at the start needing to refuel, and then because many riders didn't follow my revised route away from the start. Like our friend here, there I was, having organised this ride, with a whole bunch of bikes, and I was riding on my own with no idea where everyone was! As I said at the top, when it's done well, riding in a group is an enjoyable and inspiring experience, but when it's not done well - as in this story - it can be a nightmare! I hope his group takes note of his story and behaves better next time!
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