Happy Days are Here today!
The 2018 Tour de France started today.
The weather is stellar.
And everybody’s winter base training is really starting to show its roots.
I am taking some time here to break down the Cobourg group ride into easy to learn steps.
One way to build on the hard work of tedious, indoor training of the winter is to get out and jam the pedals in the summer.
Many Cobourg Cycling Club members have been enjoying dipping their toes in the waters of the Thursday night rides.
However, there is some confusion as to how the rides are supposed to work.
So, The BoD wants to look at bringing some clarity to this great weekly event.
The goal of this note is to help calm the nerves a little and provide you with some insight.
First of all, every Cobourg Cycling Cub member planning to attend any club event must make themselves fully aware of the rules.
The Club has provided very detailed, easy to read language of the regulations and guidelines around organized Ontario club events.
Please visit the Club’s website for the various answers you may be seeking.
Over the years, the Club’s Board of Directors has put together a comprehensive set up that meets the OCA’s requirements.
Any cycling club affiliated with the OCA must meet these requirements in order to have every member covered by insurance.
These rules are determined by many factors though insurance and safety are the main drivers.
Without going into great detail, the use of a bicycle equipped with time trialling bars is not allowed due to safety issues involved.
(The pointy bars are not to be used as spearing tools.)
Also, the Club has stipulated that all riders must be Club members.
The only legal exception for us is a one-time use only rule for first time attendees that may want to become a CCC member.
There are other rules that also get called into question occasionally, but members need to be aware that these are not arbitrary.
Many of the rules adopted by the Cobourg Cycling Club have been implemented because an incident has occurred elsewhere.
Okay, so with the above out of the way, regarding The Thursday Night Bun Run itself, I will move on.
This ride has been fashioned after the Peterborough CC Thursday night Fight Night ride and is NOT meant to be tempo paced.
Let’s refer to this as a spirited, group ride effort.
This ride should stretch your skills, abilities and fitness in order that you can make improvements.
However, the skills and abilities within the CCC are not at the level of the participants in Peterborough, so we use a detuned version.
Peterborough has the luxury of offering three riding levels on a Thursday night and can get upward of 100 riders in mid-summer.
We do not have those numbers to play with here.
As a level 2 cycling coach, ride leader and the Club’s President, I have been well aware of the wide range of skills among members.
Also, keep in mind that the age of the members is wide ranging too.
In order to deal with all of these factors the idea for the Thursday group ride is really quite simple.
Keep in mind that this ride has been developing its own personality over the last three years since it began.
Typically, the CCC Thursday ride is a no drop ride.
We do not sell it that way but is because we are in the development stages of this growing event.
The reality of the term “no drop” varies for each participant.
We have some very fit members that want to go faster than the group.
We have some very new riders and members that are intimidated by the experience of going too fast.
Neither of these situations is negative so let me elaborate.
In order to get better at handling a bike, going fast and learning echeloning techniques, each of us needs a group.
To address the varying skills involved, the ride can be broken into “segments” but has nothing to do with Strava.
Leave that notion where it belongs – on the desktop.
We need a cooperative group effort with everybody on the same page.
Let’s look at the ride in phases.
Meet at the Diamond Head Industrial Mall aka The Coke Plant.
Be on time.
The ride is scheduled for 6:00 PM.
The depart time will be 6:05 PM to allow a grace period when life happens.
Otherwise, you miss the bus and chase like mad or skip the week.
The ride pace on departing should begin easy moving to moderate.
This is a WARM UP effort.
This period, on the ride’s current route, ends at Station Street and Lakeshore (or whatever they call the road in Grafton these days)
Without an accurate time measure my guess is about 20-25 minutes at the group’s pace.
This is ridden in standard two-up fashion.
Two-up means two abreast.
Two riders set pace with pulls ranging from several minutes to 10 minutes or even more depending on weather factors etc.
Understand what half-wheeling is and how to manage your pace as your pace ripples through the group behind.
Riding two abreast keeps things safer and quicker, most noticeably in awkward conditions.
The idea of riding “two-up” is that this reduces the group size and creates a larger profile so that visibility is increased.
On narrower roads automobiles are forced to reduce speed and look ahead before passing.
Riders should be aware of the presence of vehicles, potholes etc through on-going verbal commands and communications.
This is a standard method of club riding across this continent and throughout Europe and the UK.
Contrary to common belief, there is no legal requirement to ride single file in Ontario – read the Highway Traffic Act.
Some areas of the Province may still have antiquated by-laws stating this as preference, but legal precedent for two up riding is set.
The Ottawa Cycling Cub is the largest in Canada and a number of years ago challenged this in court – and won.
The Second Phase
As the ride moves east, the rolling echelon begins.
It does not need to go full throttle.
But it will pick up speed though and that is quite normal.
Do not look at a computer for guidance, pay attention to the road and riders about you.
Wattage, speed and the like matter not here.
Pedal your bike and pay attention to what you are being asked to do – you will find that you soon will get the hang of things.
Smooth and efficient pedalling action is probably one of the greatest lessons to learn here for developing riders.
With weaker fitness and bike handling skills within the group, this may seem somewhat daunting at first.
That is normal.
This is advice from years of development so check your ego.
It is no sin to sit out at the back of the group, watch what is happening ahead and use the group’s pace to break the wind for you.
When you think you can manage a turn, move up to the last wheel and take a place in the line.
You may need to signal or speak to riders around you to make sure that they get your intentions clearly understood.
When you need a break, take one at the back again.
Riding with several buddies at slower paces in order to practice this technique is highly recommended on other days.
And, do not underestimate the usefulness of YouTube as resource and you can always see some great teamwork watching the TdF.
Things may be a bit off for “newbies” here.
Every good group ride has one or more sign sprints.
These are for bragging rights only but a fun twist to the group activity.
Coming into Lakeport is a blue sign.
Some riders may want to contest a sprint for the sign, it is like intermediate bragging rights – that is all.
So, don’t get too worked up over it.
That is why sometimes the pace gets harder or faster in what seems like a moment where the whole ride is out of control.
It is not.
It is really like a practice lead out.
Generally, after a sign sprint things slow (and will vary depending on whose ride it is).
This slowing allows for regrouping and recovery as well as manages pace through what are likely congested traffic areas.
Heading up Lakeport’s grassy knoll there is a good location where a nature break can be had.
For our little CCC ride, knowing the fitness of the overall group, the ride up the hill on Durham St. N. is somewhat neutralized.
There is time for a slight regrouping at the Purdy Road intersection.
From there we should roll along in a two up manner to the northeast.
The grade is subtle but uphill here and along Honey Road.
So, returning to Phase 1 style riding suits the group.
At Telephone Road, typically the ride moves east about a kilometre to Trottman Road.
Heading north to County Rd 21 the group should roll the echelon again.
At the church intersection in Dundonald the ride can go east or west, depending on daylight.
East takes us a mile or so to Shiloh Road and west goes toward County Road 25/Turk Road (the newish road to the gravel pit).
Shiloh Road winds around to come out on Dingman Road/Cty. Rd 25/Pipeline Rd.
While Turk Road brings the group to Vernonville and Shelter Valley Road.
In 2017 we introduced the King Road loop.
The whole ride time can be extended without losing everybody.
Here riders can drop off and spin easy down SVR or loop back to meet group.
Each person needs to make these decisions for themselves based on their fitness or how they feel on the day.
Some attendees have complained about the road surface on King Road.
Think about Paris Roubaix and those beloved gravel rides you like to do.
Bumps are bumps and part of riding, training and racing.
If one cannot ride on bumpy roads in training how can you expect to manage them elsewhere?
Now, here is an interesting thing to learn and to keep in mind.
Lake Ontario is the southern edge of the ride and from there all roads either go north or east/west.
Not a new idea is it?
There have been rumblings that another group is needed.
Not yet please.
WE need more consistent numbers of participants to really make that wish viable.
However, what is very useful for those wanting a reduced effort ride is to use shortcuts.
This is supposed to be a no drop-drop –training ride.
There is nothing wrong with cutting out one section to meet the faster group when it loops around elsewhere.
You need to know the loops though in order to do this, so look at a map before heading out.
Also, be aware of the time of year – long days vs short days.
Look to see where you are relative to starting etc and plan your ride for skills and abilities.
The hardest part of the ride has been the last 4-5 km on Shelter Valley Road ending at the time trial finish sign.
At The Deuce, another regrouping occurs and everybody should “piano” ride back to town or home or wherever.
Now for another twist to put into your training cap.
There are often times when a large group will split.
That is perfect.
What should happen is that the two groups should now be two echelons.
Look how pro racers manage events with lots of heavy cross winds.
Nowhere does it say we are a racing club but racing techniques are used quite regularly in all sorts of group rides and club activities.
Those looking for a second group have found it without effort.
It has been there all along.
With members of your own ability, you can form chase groups.
Each group can collectively decide how to best carry on.
There are several viable options at this point.
They may include rejoining at an alternate spot or turning off to go home.
For really fit riders, they may even, in some cases, take a longer route to complete more intense training.
You can always modify a club ride for your own needs.
What happens when people peel off at different times though?
So, that goes back to what I have always told you.
Know where you are on the road at all times.
Be aware who is around you.
Understand the road and/or wind conditions.
Know whose wheel you want to follow if the pace gets harder.
These are little tricks of the riding trade.
Everybody can use these.
If you get dropped and your buddy is barely hanging on, just wait.
Eventually that person will soon follow.
Then you can both begin to roll an echelon.
Two riders should always move faster than one …..when tired legs are gathering!
There is a lot of information in these words.
Take some time to review it all before next Thursday night.
Give some of these suggestions a try once or twice or even three times.
Let’s see what the group consensus is once you have all these tools in place.
Earlier this season, even stretching back over the last two years, Club members were not ready for all this.
The time has come now where more information will be useful.
I hope that this helps and that renewed interest develops in a growing, fun club activity.
I have one ask of all Club members at this point.
Do not let your one bad experience at a Thursday night ride or elsewhere reflect on what the ride has to offer.
Regardless of what may have left a bad taste for you in the past, we all are human and share the same experiences and emotions.
There is not one strong rider in the Club that at some point did not suffer at the hands of other stronger riders.
If they say otherwise, consider the source.
Oh and on that note, if you are heading to the woods somewhere, bring extra water, watch out for the ivy and have some fun!