Group Riding for Women: an article from Bicycling Magazine

June 9, 2010 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

There are many alternatives for group riding in the valley. Our women’s ride last night was relaxed and friendly while including some challenges and lots of help. There are rides that really push you and help you improve your riding. Check out the group rides that include friends and customers of The Elephants Perch (road) and Sturtevants (road and mountain biking). This article from Bicycling Magazine gives some tips, some of which I’ve copied below:

Group Riding For Women
The beauty, intimidation, camaraderie, learning, testosterone, fear, speed, & exhilaration of the group ride (a woman’s guide).
By Alison Dunlap
©Jonathan Carlson

Know the group you’re joining
First, be honest with yourself: What do you want from the group? If it’s to chat about movies, the kids or what you had for dinner last night, that’s cool, but forget about going with a bunch of spandex-clad, shaved-legged guys–you can’t expect them to suppress millions of years of testosterone-fueled urges and just cruise along. Ask your local bike shop if there is a mellow or casual group in your area. Or, organize your own: I’ve put together easy spins where we all agree on the pace ahead of time and end up at the coffee shop.

If you’re a racer, or out for a challenge, then by all means find an established group ride and make those boys hurt. And don’t forget the dirt: Mountain bikers like to ride hard but they also like to stop and enjoy the view, so group rides can be fun for all. There is no pack, so the pack mentality doesn’t apply. If you know you’ll be dropped on the climbs or technical descents, then ask the guys to wait for you periodically.

Ask for help
No matter what your question, the group has answers. Those in your ride can fill you in on local races and events, how to ride in a pack, how to stay sheltered from the wind and how to read the movement of the group and anticipate accelerations, decelerations and possible crashes. Over time you’ll learn to read other riders, know who is strong, who is weak, who is a good bike handler, and who you need to avoid riding next to. Groups can also be safer: Cars can more easily spot a mass of 60 cyclists than a lone rider.

Love the pain

Fast group rides hurt; there’s no getting around it. Something about the adrenaline of trying to stay up front always made me ride harder than I would have if training alone. If you’re the type of cyclist who trains, then take advantage of the opportunity to hammer. Work hard and suffer, even if you get dropped.

Alison Dunlap, a two-time Olympian in road cycling and mountain biking and a former world champion mountain biker, is a cycling coach and leads skills camps and clinics (


Entry filed under: Training, Weekly rides.

Kristin Armstrong’s Cycling Tips Magic Mountain road ride

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Kathy at 788.4893 or cell 720.4461 email kjwalker at svskylan dot net

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