What We Expect From You
In an effort to promote safety and good health, we've identified 4 different rider groups or classes (explained below) and are asking you to identify which one of these you're most comfortable with. Please keep in mind that if you're not certain that you can keep up with a given group, you should select a less advanced one or risk being "dropped" and possibly lost if you're new to the Earlysville roads. If you're unfamiliar with group riding, we highly encourage you to attend a couple of the Freshmen rides before jumping into a faster class.
Please use the class descriptions below to determine which group you'll join at the Mon/Wed evening rides:
Freshmen (8-12 mph average) - For novice riders, average speed will be 8-12 mph. To attend, you should be able to bike 4 miles in 30 minutes. These riders usually participate in the 25 or 50 mile routes of the MS Tour de Vine. We'll always lead and mentor this group, providing plenty of important and tips pertaining to group riding, safety, bike handling/shifting, mechanics, nutrition, and more. This group will follow tailored routes based on the strengths of the attending riders. We will ride together, while stopping at many intersections to learn and regroup. This is always a fun bunch, focusing on everything but speed. That said, it's particularly important for the Freshmen to attend regularly in order to develop your stamina throughout the 12 week program.
Sophomores (12-15 mph average) - Everyone in this class and higher understands "group/pack riding technique" and practices safety guidelines. This group will follow our website's posted route and mileage. These riders typically participate in the 50 or 75 mile routes of the MS Tour de Vine.
Juniors Group (15-18 mph average) - These riders are typically experienced MS150 riders. This group will follow the Senior group's route. Before starting, please choose and communicate the chosen route with the Seniors, which will ride ahead of you. These riders typically participate in the 75 and sometimes the 100 mile routes of the MS Tour de Vine.
Seniors Group (18+ mph average) - For advanced riders who are showing some gray, while also being comfortable riding at fast speeds, pacelines, and in tight packs. They will typically come up with their own "Senior" route, which will extend our website's posted route and mileage. Before starting, please choose and communicate the chosen route with the Juniors, who will be trailing you. These riders typically participate in the 75 and often the 100 mile routes of the MS Tour de Vine.
1) Determine which of these 4 groups you belong in. You don't need to tell me, just remember your preferred group when you show up to the next training ride.
2) At the training ride before starting, let's quickly sort ourselves out in the parking lot so you know who will be in your group that day. Form small informal packs with the Seniors in the front and Freshmen at the back. Before the 5:30 start, talk amongst yourselves to quickly understand who is joining your group that day. Sophomores should confirm they know the day's route. Juniors/Seniors should identify their route. Once you start out of the parking lot, everyone can ride out together for several miles (single file on Reas Ford Rd with traffic), but the expectation is that your group will eventually separate from the others groups... probably somewhere in Earlysville Forest or Frays Mountain Rd.
3) Please consider your group to be your teammates for that day's ride, and rejoin at convenient spots. Our expectation is that our experienced riders will keep track of their teammates and will continue to re-group at our usual spots (various country stores, Fray's Mill Rd stop sign, etc), every 5 miles or so, so that no one is left behind.
4) This will certainly have some kinks in the beginning but let's give it a try to see if we can't make it work. Please feel free to offer suggestions to fine tune this approach.
Ride in Small Groups
Whatever class you're in, please ride in single-file groups of 2-4 riders! Vehicles have a difficult time as it is, so let's help them out and make some friends. Pacelines of 5 or more riders are dangerous for us and the local motorists. Be smart about this. If you have 6 riders in your evening ride, create two groups of 3 rider packs. The packs only need a couple of seconds of separations, which is plenty for a vehicle to leap frog both groups.
Ride Predictably and Communicate
Much like driving, it's very important that your cycle predictably. This helps passing motorists as well as the bicyclists around you. You want to be graceful, consistent, and under control at all times. You don't want to quickly veer or stop in any direction. Always speed up or slow down in a gradual fashion. There's always exceptions which are problems... such as darting dogs or potholes so it's important to always be alert at all times and try to catch these obstacles as quickly as possible, communicating them to the riders behind you. Do not turn your head around to look behind you. That's what your mirrors are for. (We'll be placing an order later this Spring for mirrors if you need one. Stay tuned.)
Communication is very important. When cars approach from behind, yell "CAR BACK!" or "CAR UP!" if the car is approaching from the front. Point down to the road when you are approaching obstacles or potholes. Use your left/right/stop hand signals. Remember, you are entitled to the road but are also expected to behave like responsibly in the same manner you drive your car. NEVER EVER pass someone on their right side! When you're approaching someone from behind to pass them on their left side, always yell "ON YOUR LEFT".