This was a new group ride for me, as I found it hunting around Gwinnett Touring Club’s website for another ride I was familiar with.
This 26-miler has some great terrain, with great flats and then it offers up some really good climbs. Some are rollers but there are a few hills that will separate the raw climbers in the group. Though the number of riders today was about a dozen, it was obvious after a few miles that all seemed to be relatively strong.
The pace settled into a brisk 20+ and I ended up one of four riders that was separated upfront. The other three in the group were strong and did more pulling; I allowed this for a reason. I noticed every time the front guy pulled off to transition to the back, the new leader dramatically kicked up the pace. What’s the big deal about that, you may ask? Quite a bit, as it relates to proper etiquette and respect to other riders while working together.
Imagine you are the front guy and you have just pulled a hard turn and want to transition to the back to get a recovery but still stay in the pack; nothing wrong with that, but there is a correct and a very incorrect way to do this. Out of respect and acknowledgement to you for all the hard effort you just put in…and the fact that everyone behind you enjoyed and benefitted from, the correct way to transition (if you are working as a group) is whatever pace you pulled off is the same pace the new leader is to maintain, giving you the ability to transition to the back. If that ‘new’ pace is suddenly increased, you may too oxygen-spent or not have anything in your legs to be able to hang on the back. Yes, you can increase the pace as the new leader but you do so incrementally, as not to immediately drop the guy you have been drafting. Bottom line, it’s all about respect to other riders and the effort you were able to take advantage of. Otherwise, it’s like saying, “Hey, thanks for all the hard work you did…see ya later”.
Hey, if you are not working together and everyone is basically riding for themselves, then this whole scenario does not apply. That was clearly not the case today. Unfortunately, nobody teaches proper group ride etiquette, leaving cyclists to fend for themselves.
Later, I mentioned to one of the guys that I didn’t mind pulling at all but asked that he just transition correctly. Let’s just say his response was a small explosion of expletives. Sadly, he wasn’t open to any constructive criticism. As the ‘new guy’ on the ride, he (& others) said I had “no right” to say anything. Proper group etiquette should always apply; that’s one of the main aspects of a ride’s reputation. There’s other aspects of group etiquette that can actually make a group ride much safer; it’s all important.
As I was driving home, I asked myself if I could have phrased my comment differently to hedge off this type of response? Honestly, I don’t think so, as he let me know apparently I said something to him in some other ride and he didn’t like it then, either. I accepted the fact that in starting these reviews, I would encounter those who were open to learn & those who were not; that just comes with the territory.
Bottom line, if you are looking for a great route & challenging pace in Gwinnett, then you need to add this one to your list. I would just be cautious of how you approach potential ‘opportunities for improvement‘.
See ya on the road…