45 Road Club

The Lost Art of the Group Ride

The Lost Art Of The Group Ride By Peter Wilborn
(Reproduced from an article on CyclingTips)
Every so often, I’ll ride a recreational group ride. I love the camaraderie of cyclists, the talk, the last minute pumps of air, the clicking in, and the easy drifting out as a peloton. “I miss riding in a group,” I’ll think to myself.

The magic ends by mile 10. The group will surge, gap, and separate, only to regroup at every stop sign. I’ll hear fifteen repeated screams of “HOLE!” for every minor road imperfection. And then no mention of the actual hole. Some guy in front will set a PB for his 30 second pull. Wheels overlap, brakes are tapped, and some guy in the back will go across the yellow line and speed past the peloton for no apparent reason. A breakaway?!

I curse under my breath, remembering why I always ride with only a few friends. Doesn’t anyone else realize how dangerous this ride is? How bad it is for our reputation on the road? There are clear rules of ride etiquette, safety, and common sense. Does anyone here know the rules? Who is in charge?

But no one is in charge, and the chaotic group has no idea of how to ride together. As a bike lawyer, I get the complaints from irritated drivers, concerned police, controversy-seeking journalists, and injured cyclists. It needs to get better, but the obstacles are real:

First, everyone is an expert these days. The internet and a power meter do not replace 50,000 miles of experience, but try telling that to a fit forty year-old, new to cycling, on a $5000 bike. Or, god forbid, a triathlete. No one wants to be told what to do.

Second, the more experienced riders just want to drop the others and not be bothered. It is all about the workout, the ego boost, or riding with a subset of friends. But a group ride is neither a race nor cycling Darwinism. As riders get better, they seek to distinguish themselves by riding faster on more trendy bikes; but as riders get better they need to realize two things: 1) there is always someone faster, and 2) they have obligations as leaders. Cycling is not a never ending ladder, each step aspiring upwards, casting aspersions down. It is a club, and we should want to expand and improve our membership.

Third, different rides are advertised by average speed, but speed is only one part of the equation. This approach makes speed the sole metric for judging a cyclist, and creates the false impression that a fit rider is a good one. Almost anyone can be somewhat fast on a bike, but few learn to be elegant, graceful cyclists.

Read more: The Lost Art of the Group Ride

Club Runs

Note that these are informal social rides and are not  organised club "events",  therefore not covered by the club insurance.

The weekly informal club rides are good for your regime of training, and also if you want a chat and to see some nice countryside in and around Northamptonshire. Details about runs and training rides varies dependant on the time of year, information about these rides is available if you contact the club or sign up to our facebook presence. All are welcome.

Wednesdays & Fridays(contact Mike or John for details)

Great Doddington meeting Point

There are a few retired riders who are out on a Friday and the average drops a little to 12mph.  We start from Doddington around 9:15am, after the rush hour and often ride for 45 miles'ish,  depending on the weather!
We begin our rides in and around Wellingborough depending which way we are heading and take scenic routes to Rothwell, a nice café in the centre, or over to Carlton and visit the Emmaus Community Shop and Restaurant, or even around to Thrapston.

Sundays: (meet at the club point in Gt Doddington 8am depart)

Great Doddington meeting PointMany of the members regularly meet for a training ride, and often are joined by riders from other local clubs. The Sunday run starts at just after 8am from the junction of Wilby Lane and High Street (B573) in Great Doddington and can be found by clicking the link.  These rides take in the quieter country roads for about 60 miles, and will include a tea stop at a local café about half way round.  Depending on wind direction, these are shown below.

Often there can be well over 20 riders initially, but after just a couple of miles it splits into the normal two groups.  Those that cannot keep up and resort to a more moderate pace of 13 to15 mph average, and those that are fighting their testosterone and will average 16mph upwards.
New to group rides, view some helpful info...

Regularly frequented half-way refreshment points:

St. Pauls Sq. BedfordBedford≈52.5m
The river through Bedford provides very nice scenery and whether coming in or going out it provides a pleasant ride through.  The outdoor cafe is found on St Pauls Square adjacent to the Church on the A6 and High Street.  There is ample seating and tables and is ideal for a summer stopover.  For the girls there is a McDonalds just opposite for a visit if you don't like the public convenience.

Carlton EmmausCarlton Emmaus: ≈43.5m
Not usually far enough away on a longer run but ideal stopover for the mid week cuppa.  Out of Carlton on the Turvey Road, turn left before reaching the church, and the "village" is a quarter of a mile at the end of School Lane.  Emmaus specialises in recycling and exceeds as a shop outlet, restaurant and workshops for homeless people finding a better way forward in life.  Good food, plenty of tables and ample bike parking.

Manor Farm Shop and Tea room CatthorpeCatthorpe≈52.5m
The "Manor Farm Shop and Tearoom" is a very well organised shop and restaurant along Main Street on the right hand side heading out of the village, west towards the A5. Large car park, plenty of bike spaces.  The eating area at the rear of the shop caters for many types of food from snacks to full meals.  Overflow seating outside during the summer months.  A very pleasant stopover.  Worth a visit for the local produce.

Salcey Forest≈40.0m
The cafe in Salcey Forest is a favorite stop for those shorter midweek winter rides, with variations that give 30 to 40 mile route distances.  We have used the "Forest Cafe" for many years.  Plenty of inside and outside seating and tables. The proprietor and staff are always very welcoming and helpful.

St Neots≈60.5m
Market Cafe St. Neots The centre of this rather quaint town boosts a number of cafes and restaurants.  We have used the "Market Cafe" on the corner of Market Place facing the square.  Plenty of outside seating and tables during the summer months.  Toilets are difficult in bike shoes up a winding stair to 2nd floor, but the proprietor and staff are very obliging.

The Coffee Tavern OundleOundle≈48.7m
The "Coffee Tavern" can be found on St Osyths Lane facing the Market Place in the centre, on the main A427 through town.  Minimal seating downstairs but more upstairs.  Probable not the cheapest cafe we stop at, but good food and service.  Couple of trees over the road to stack the bikes, and in view of seating inside.

KJs Cafe Market HarboroughMarket Harborough≈54.6m
An alternative ro Catthorpe if the prevailing wind is not suited but KJ's cafe in the centre of town through Adam& Eve Street, a one way from the main A4304, St Mary's Road.  A reasonable amount of pavement for bike stacking, and with shops closed it is usually no problem on a Sunday.  There is a Starbucks on the corner if this cafe is closed.  Small inside but caters for a group quite well and good service.

Super Sausage A5 Potterspury [Towcester S]Potterspury A5 [Towcester S]≈54.3m
With a strong westerly wind this stopover, the Super Sausage Cafeteria on the main A5 Watling Street, south of Towcester, caters for big bikers [with engines] on Sunday outings also.  Not gourmet food but really good fast service at the right price, if you want a good breakfast and a large mug of coffee try this place. They have a link at supersausagecafe.co.uk if you really want to save this site!  Plenty of tables inside and out, and ample bike room.  On the corner of Moorend Road, where there are car boot events on Sundays and traffic can be a bit congested.

Jacks Hill Cafe A5 Towcester [N]Towcester A5 [N]≈51.7m
An alternative venue depending on your route but this cafe, known as "Jacks Hill Cafe" on the main A5 Watling Street north of Towcester, caters for big bikers [with engines] on Sunday outings also.  Not gourmet food but if you want a breakfast and a large mug of coffee it makes a good stop.

The Village Shop. A small café adjacent to the Sondes Arms public house, near the base of Rockigham  hill. Very friendly place, really nice food, with free wifi! Not a large place so if there is a big group they prefer to be informed so additional help can be arranged!

Windmills Cafe RothwellRothwell
A small café just off the roundabout in the main through road the B576 High Street, and junction with Bridge Street.  Known as the "Windmills" it will cater for small groups and the pavement parking for bike stacking is a little bit limited so tend to use this for the weekday rides only.  Very friendly proprietor and often open when many others are closed in the area.  Does a nice bacon and egg baguette! … at a good price.  Good food selection all round.   Cellar toilets with a steep stairway down; be careful.
Just a little bit further a field into a pleasant little town in Buckinghamshire, to "Jennie Wren's Tea Rooms" over looking the square in Church Walk.  Just off High Street, and the main A413, these tea rooms are a favourite meeting place for cyclists from other clubs in the area.  There is a small yard at the back for stacking bikes, but also a fair amount of space on the frontage where there are occasional tables in good weather.

Some example Sunday Training Ride routes...meet up at Gt. Doddington for 8am departure.
Market Harborough 54.6 mile St Neots 60.5 miles  Bedford 52.5 miles 

Bike route 1344434 - powered by Bikemap 

Bike route 1344774 - powered by Bikemap 

Bike route 1344454 - powered by Bikemap 


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