Cycling Opinion

Nine Characteristics of a Great Group Ride

Cold winter mornings are a daily reality at this time of year and we appreciate that it is very difficult to motivate yourself to get up and cycle in freezing temperatures. However, one thing that can help you keep on riding through the winter is a group ride.

Here are the best characteristics of a great winter group ride:

Friends and community

Whether you are part of a cycling team or just ride with a bunch of merry souls, the friendly community vibe of most group rides is one of the joys of winter riding. Although it can often seem solitary, there is no reason for cycling to be a lonely sport.

Fun and banter are positively encouraged on cold weather rides, and plenty of talking, of course. You should find that winter is when you really get to know the people you pedal alongside, linked by the love of riding a bike.

Learning from others

Group rides are also an important place to learn new skills, whether it’s hand signals or bunch riding confidence. The safety and familiarity of a group ride with friends is a great place to turn these things into second nature.

All good rides will have a designated ride leader. Among other things, this person will have an incredible knowledge of local roads, quite possibly not even glancing at their Garmin once. That could be you one day!

Punctuality

No one wants to be standing around in the cold waiting for their mates to turn up, so getting to the agreed meeting point in good time is a must. It’s never a good idea to turn up late – you don’t want to start off on the wrong foot with your riding mates.

Route

A great group ride route will have a little bit of everything for everyone to enjoy. Hills, descents, town riding, country roads, a truly great group ride will take on them all, keeping the whole pack happy.

Café stops

Arguably the most important part of a great group ride, the café stop cannot, we repeat, CANNOT be missed! This is a time to bond closer as a group, share stories, knowledge and just have a laugh.

The best café stops are of the independent variety because they’re the ones which take the most care in their coffee and treats. In the winter, if nothing else, even if you think you’re unfit and unhealthy, the pull of the café stop should get you up for any ride.

Motivation

Riding with other people is a great motivator, whatever level you are at. We know all too well that it can be difficult to psych yourself up for a long winter ride, so let the prospect of a day in the saddle and the shared banter of the group do that for you. With the support of your pals, you’ll find the motivation for the new season and beyond.

A challenge

To keep that group harmony going and to add a little bit of competition in the ride there should always be an element of a challenge.

Climbs make for natural opportunities to race each other and test yourself against other riders, as do any sort of road sign sprint – your chance to emulate your favourite sprinter.

Even though winter rides tend to be less about training and more about just riding, a great group ride should have you feeling like you’ve put in a good effort by the end of it. Tempo riding, base miles and lots of sprints will certainly make you feel like you’ve done your fair share of training come spring.

Indoor group rides

If the outside really is too cold for you and your ride partners, how about a group ride on Zwift?

Zwift allows you to plan group rides and invite the riders you want to share it with. You could always set up a Discord channel if you want to take it a step further and bring the fun of a long group ride indoors.

The only downside is that Zwift is yet to install a virtual reality café stop…

Post ride beverage

Every great group ride ends with a beer, because at the end of the day, what were you really riding for? Sharing stories over a drink is the best way to keep the fun of your epic group ride going for a little while longer.

Cheers to great winter group rides!

What do you think? Have we missed anything? Let us know on social media what you think makes a winter group ride truly great. Happy riding!