All posts by Rob Ramsden

Which Ride For Me 2.0

Following on from last Saturday’s post regarding the changes being made to the M3/M4/Transition rides, it’s timely for us to refresh an article posted back in 2016 that would still appear to be current in its content and guidance.

As was communicated last week, there has been much conversation about particular aspects of some of our Saturday training rides, specifically the Main 3, 4 and Transition. The conversation generally revolves around expected speeds (average and cruising) as well as general cycle skills.

We have processed a range of contributions from people who regularly lead or participate in these rides with the aim of firming up a clearer view for all what is expected across this large cohort of the Club’s members.

Key Rationale for the Rides

Transition 2: “I’m just starting finding my way on this group ride thing, and excited about riding a bit further than I have been before. I’m still a bit nervous or unsure about what’s expected and about riding too close to anyone else.”

This ride is for people who have developed a base level of fitness and general cycle skills with the Development Group or may be returning from having a long spell off the bike. The group rides a shorter distance (approx. 40km) than the Main Rides and often at an average pace of between 22-24km/h. During the ride, the group may get up to a cruising speed of 28-30km/h if conditions like wind direction, traffic lights and roll through skills are favourable. It is expected that riders in this group will still be developing their group riding skills but will be able to undertake key manoeuvres like riding one handed while signalling or drinking, not surging off the front during a roll through, looking over both left and right shoulders whilst maintaining a straight line.

Transition 1: “I’m getting used to this group riding thing and am looking to take it to the next level; I think I need to start riding a bit faster to get my fitness up and really test myself. I’m getting comfortable riding in bigger groups near other people and feel I can contribute to the roll throughs confidently.”

This ride is for people who have developed a solid level of fitness and good cycle skills with the Development or Transition 2 Group or may be returning from having a long spell off the bike. The group rides a shorter distance (approx. 40km) than the Main Rides and often at an average pace of between 25-27km/h. During the ride, the group may get up to a cruising speed of 34-36km/h if conditions like wind direction, traffic lights and roll through skills are favourable. It is expected that riders in this group will have developed their individual riding skills and looking to firm up their  group riding abilities at important times throughout the ride (eg: roll throughs; pace lines; hills/inclines).

Main 4: “I’m used to riding in groups and I want to ride for longer but not necessarily faster; I really want to focus on my endurance. I’m comfortable riding in bigger groups near to other people and feel I can contribute to the roll throughs confidently.”

This group formed out of the need to allow people to increase the distance they cycle, whilst maintaining the average and cruising speed of the Transition 2 ride. So, the key capability is endurance! As a rider in this group, you need to be able to rider further than the Transition rides but you don’t have to ride any faster. This ride is a great option for those wanting to step up their long range fitness while getting better at riding in a group situation. It must be noted that this is a “no drop ride” as there are no other groups going to be able to come along behind to sweep up any riders who fall off the back. This means that the whole group MUST show respect to the decisions made by the ride leader to either re-group and/or slow down the average/cruising speeds to match the ability of the slowest rider (see below on Choosing Your Ride).

Main 3: “This group riding thing rocks; I can contribute to the roll throughs confidently, I can hold the wheel tightly of my fellow riders and I can get up and over the little hills without getting spat out the back. My endurance is at a point where I can ride a bit faster and longer than I’ve been able to before”

Main 3 is about building endurance and riding faster. If you choose to ride with this group then you need to be able to maintain both the average speed (25-27km/h) and cruising speed (up to 34km/h) over a 50km distance. It is typically the last 15km that hurts the most and this is where we can run into problems if you have chosen the wrong group at the start. The other key difference with this ride is that it “may” be a “drop” ride where there is a Main 4 group following. If this is the case then the ride leader may make the decision that the majority of the group on the day can maintain a certain speed and that there is one, two or three riders that are struggling. In that instance, the ride leader will communicate to these riders that they are not able to maintain the pace of the group and that they may be dropped. The very strong suggestion will be that those riders “sit up” and wait for the Main 4 group to come along and then join that ride. If there is no Main 4 group following then the group will be a “no drop” ride and act as per Main 4.

Choosing Your Ride

We all have ‘good’ days and ‘bad’ days. So much depends on how we’re feeling and what we want to get out of our precious training time. Some people are after a social outing whilst others are up for a trip to Pain City. It’s important to keep this in mind when choosing your ride; you’ve come along to a GROUP ride and it’s expected that once you make your choice you conform to the expectations of the GROUP, not the other way around. If you’ve traded up too high too early, then it’s not really fair that you keep calling “Ease Up” and expect the ride leader to control the group to your pace if you’re the only one dropping out the back. Similarly, if you’re always on the front of the group and have the legs to maintain the average and cruising speeds ALL the time, then you’re probably ready to step up.

Above all, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE listen to the ride briefing so you know what the expectations of the GROUP are and respect the decisions and calls of the ride leader(s) on the day. It is not easy to control everyone all of the time. It may be that they have to slow the GROUP down to allow for the safety of a single rider as it may be unsafe or not in line with the group’s “no drop” practice. Ride leaders are trained to identify how the group is travelling as a whole, to pick up on any individuals who may be doing it tough (or riding unsafely), and to make decisions in the best interests of the GROUP on the day.

If you have any feedback or questions on this or any other aspect of riding in SPR’s group rides, please do drop your friendly training and development sub-committee an email at development@southperthrouleurs.com.au

Observations of an SPR Ride Leader

One of the unintended but very positive outcomes of our Ride Leader Program is the sharing of both positive and negative experiences as well as knowledge and ideas across the ride leader cohort – soooo much good learning and development!!

From Saturday just gone, we had a number of observations shared regarding some positive things people did as well as some not-so-cool riding behaviours – all of which warrant raising with a broader audience; namely our rider-ship.

  1. Group Splits: On Saturday, the Main groups were all split at the start. However, due to lights and a following group rolling through, there was a joining of groups for a couple of kms; the ride leaders then subsequently split the groups again. As this happened, there were a couple of different riders in groups after the split, but it worked ok. It was pleasing to see that people respected the splits and the instructions of the ride leaders, in keeping with our emphasis on keeping groups to manageable, safe and fun sizes
  2. Use of Technology Whilst Riding (Part A): Along the road up to Guildford, one rider decided to take a photo with his fly 6. There was no way the rider was concentrating on riding at this point, and was advised by the ride leader that we do not want to see that sort of thing on an SPR ride. It was also good to see a couple of other riders advised that it was poor form as well.
  3. Use of Technology Whilst Riding (Part B): Further on, the ride leader noticed a rider surging off the front during the roll through whereby verbal attempts to ease up had no affect. Upon passing the rider, it was noted that the rider was wearing a set of headphones. They were politely asked to remove the offending items and requested not to put them in again for the duration of the ride. Both of these examples are not consistent with our Ride Etiquette Guidelines – time to brush up?

If you have any questions regarding this article, please feel free to drop us a line at development@southperthrouleurs.com.au

SPR Christmas Awards 2017 – Nominate Now!

Each year SPR recognise some of the cyclists and participants who help to support the club or inspire others with their cycling achievements. There are multiple awards this year, four of which will be based on the information provided in this survey. Presentations of the awards will take place at the Christmas breakfast on Saturday 23 December 2017.

There will also be a prize awarded at the breakfast for the best dressed rider/bike on the Christmas ride, so don’t forget to dress up your bike and yourself. Other awards will also be given at the Christmas breakfast.

You can nominate up to two people for each award. If you could provide some background as to why the person is being nominated, even if they are not the final award recipient, they will still have the opportunity to read the collated comments. Note this survey is fully anonymous.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GSQJTT5

This survey will be open until midnight Tuesday 19 December 2017.
Thank you for participating in our survey. Your feedback is important.

SPR Have Your Say 2017

Every 2 years we seek formal feedback from our current members.
While the club is run by your elected Club Committee, we are here to represent you – the club members. In order to do this we like to gather your thoughts on a few issues, some old, and some new. We’ll use this information to aid us in making the best decisions for the club and planning the best way forward. We can also use it to compare how the club’s demands have changed over time (this is our 4th survey).
The survey will close at midnight Sunday 3rd December. Once we’ve collated the results we’ll publish the summaries up for everyone to see.
To further entice members to take the time to provide your feedback, if you choose to do so, you can go into the draw to win an Apple iPad valued at $469**. Simply add your name and contact details into the space provided at the end of the survey to be in the running to win. The winner will be announced at the SPR Christmas Breakfast on the 23rd of December and via the SPR website.
So go on, have your say:

**Must be a current financial member of the club to be eligible for the iPad prize.

The Importance of Group Separation

One of the key focus points of SPR Club rides is that we will always aim to create an environment where all riders are safe and can be in the best position to have fun on the ride. As the Club has grown and our rides have become more popular, we have had to take steps to ensure that our groups are not too big. We do this for a number of reasons, which may not always be apparent to the casual observer. When the group is of a manageable size (ie: less than 20), we can (generally) achieve the following:

  1. All riders in the group get to know who they’re riding with; the bigger the group, the less likely you are to have ridden next to someone by the time it gets important (ie: roll throughs).
  2. Ride leaders can better communicate to the group what their expectations are at important times throughout the ride (eg: approaching lights; roundabouts; turning points)
  3. Communication generally is enhanced because the back is not too far away from the front
  4. There is less chance of the group becoming ‘split’ at lights and intersections meaning there isn’t a ‘wait’ and ‘chase’ effect; or worse, riders at the back running red lights for fear of being dropped! This is important on certain rides where there are LOTS of lights!

So, what can YOU do about this? A couple of things:

  1. Respect the split at the very start. If there is someone that you want to ride with, then be near them when the groups are split in the first place. Don’t jump across to the group leaving because you missed it! Stay put and ride with people you don’t know – you may like them!
  2. Get to the START! We all like a sleep in, but the start is the start. If you live on the ride route, lucky you. Get to the START!
  3. IF YOU CATCH THE GROUP IN FRONT….re-form the gap by soft pedalling. You didn’t catch them ‘cos you is hard…you caught them because they caught a bunch of red lights or were being safe at intersections…trust us!!
  4. Respect the Ride Leader’s call & judgement. If they ask you to ease up and re-form the gap, please do so.

If everyone plays by these simple rules, we will be able to maintain a healthy balance of group size (everyone loves a draft) and safe riding conditions whilst acknowledging we are riding ‘in the wild’ with lots of inherent hazards out on the road.

Like always, if you have any feedback or would like to offer any suggestions, please do so by emailing development@southperthrouleurs.com.au or catching up with one of our friendly ride leaders at the coffee shop.

Ride Leader Development Program – Call for Expressions of Interest

SPR’s training rides set us apart as a cycling Club; we are one of the few clubs in Australia that is not affiliated with a bike shop facilitating a broad range of opportunities for people to cycle in a group every day. Since its inception in 2009, a key feature of the feedback the Club receives is the need to improve the way our group rides are led. With more consistent, trained and visible ride leaders, the result will be safer, more enjoyable ride experiences for all.

To this end, the Club developed a ride leader development program, with the objectives of:

  1. developing SPR ride leaders’ knowledge and skills of both ride leadership and core cycling skills
  2. building the confidence of ride leaders to ensure ride consistency and enhanced decision making during group rides
  3. growing the pool of capable, confident ride leaders

We are now seeking Expressions of Interest from SPR members who would like to be part of our second public Ride Leader Development Program. The Program consists of three separate but related components:

  1. Theory: covers the core knowledge and skills required to be an effective ride leader for group rides across the Main, Transition and Development rides conducted by SPR (+/- 2hrs personal time)
  2. Skills Sessions: out on the bike, learning all about what it takes to be a good ride leader as well as having the opportunity to practice your skills and ideas in a “safe” environment. (3 x 2.5 hours sessions)
  3. Ride Leader Observations: This will involve you being the ride leader for up to three (3) separate SPR training rides with an observer to determine how you go about deploying your skills and knowledge in the “real world” environment. (2 – 3 ‘normal’ training rides, weekdays or weekends as required)

As a participant, you will get:

  1. New Skills: You will learn new skills and knowledge about cycling as well as ride leadership.
  2. Kudos: Be part of the “qualified” ride leader team out on the road.
  3. Stuff.Upon successful completion, Program participants will receive a custom SPR Ride Leader jersey to be worn whenever you are leading a SPR ride.
  4. On Going Development: Access to private discussion groups; coaching and skills development; ride-leader only events.

In return, once you have completed the Program, we will expect your commitment to the following:

  1. Lead a minimum of 2 rides* per month throughout the year
  2. Be a role model for ride behavior on ALL rides you participate in
  3. Assist in the recruitment and mentorship of future ride leaders
  4. Assist in training/observing people for their readiness to take on the role of Ride Leader.

*All prospective ride leaders should note that, from time to time, they will need be called on to lead rides of a lower skill &/or fitness level than their own. This means putting the interests of the Club and other riders before their own.

We are now seeking expressions of interest from SPR members who regularly ride with the Main 2, 3 & 4 groups. We currently have a good number of riders from the Main 1 cohort; we really need to boost our numbers further down the line. While the ability to ride at or above the level of the group you are leading is important, just as critical is the constructive attitude and sound communication skills that are brought to the role. Empathy, care and the ability to encourage others is essential to the success of the ride leader.

In the event we are over-subscribed, the T&D sub-committee will use the quality & content of the EOI’s as well as the need to balance the mix of ride leaders to select the required number of participants. Anyone who is not selected shouldn’t be discouraged; it’s a numbers thing (us) rather than a capability thing (you).

As part of your EOI, we’d like you to outline:

  1. what you hope to get out of being a SPR ride leader
  2. why you feel you will make a good contributor to ride leader team
  3. which SPR group you usually ride with (M2, M3, M4), and
  4. your statement of commitment to the role of ride leader in terms of time to complete the Program and to lead the requisite number of rides per month

We anticipate kicking the Program off on the 1st of November and completing it by mid-December.

If interested, please submit your EOI to development@southperthrouleurs.com.au  before 27 October 2017. If you have any questions about the Program before submitting your EOI, please send them through to development@southperthrouleurs.com.au and we will get back to you ASAP.

SPR Training and Development Sub-Committee

Club Van & Driver Guidelines

One of the great assets our club has is a very eye catching van! All members have access to use the van for the purposes of attending a cycling related event (races or otherwise). If this is something that you would like to do, take a look at the Van Use Guidelines that the Committee have developed. They will give you all the information you need on how to go about becoming an authorised member driver and what’s involved.

If you have any feedback or comments on these Guidelines, please drop us a line at admin@southperthrouleurs.com.au

Group Ride Etiquette – Knowing the Way & Group Communication

There has been much discussion just recently among the ride leader group and members in general regarding the need to improve our internal group communication while riding, both verbal AND non-verbal.  So too, the ride leaders have reported numerous examples, from Main 1 to 4, of people not knowing the ride route on a Saturday.

Our recent blog post, Where Are We Riding Today? covers the latter; below is all for the former.

Good communication among the riders in a group involves lots of talking as well as the use of clear hand signals. When riding with a large group, often only the lead riders have an uninhibited view of the road ahead with the rest of the group relying on them to call out or point to objects on the road like road furniture, rocks, gravel and glass as well as changes in the road itself like bridges and potholes.

Hand Signals
While many riders use variations of different hand signals, some common ones are as follows:

  • Use one finger to point at single items, like a rock. Also verbally announce the hazard.
  • Use a shaking open hand for scattered hazards like glass or gravel. Also verbally announce the hazard.
  • Use an open hand to the side or on the back to signify that the group is slowing down or stopping. You can also simply announce, “slowing” or “stopping”.
  • Place your hand over your head like a shark fin to tell other riders that the road narrows and the group should ride single file.
  • Wave your hand behind your back to signify a shift in the group due to an upcoming hazard like a slower rider, road sign, or obstacle. Simply push in the direction that you want the riders behind you to move.

Watch Video

Rules of the Road: Hand Signals

There is a complete list of key signals and calls on the SPR website here.

Talking
Most hand signals are often accompanied (or replaced) with verbal references. Confidence, safety and good riding skills are enhanced when riders are communicating with each other in the group. With that said, it’s best to avoid talking too much (ie: the whole time during the ride) as the relevance of your voice may be reduced, leading to not being taken seriously when it really matters!

A few of the main calls that might be relevant during the group ride, and should (MUST) be passed up and down the riding line, are as follows:

  • “Car Back” – a car is behind the group and either is, or may, attempt to overtake the group
  • “Car Up” – a car is coming towards the group from the opposite direction
  • “Slowing”- I’m slowing down
  • “Stopping” – I’m going to come to a complete stop
  • “Bikes Back” – a faster group is approaching or in the process of overtaking our group
  • “Hole/branch/glass/etc” – there’s a hazard on the road which is to be avoided
  • “Ease Up” – A call to the front of the group to allow back markers to catch back on to the group
  • “All On” – Everyone is now with the group again

In addition to these standard calls, good conversation and talking among riders along the way can also assist in improving the safety and overall ride experience for everyone. This might include reminding each other to maintain the line through corners or roundabouts, close gaps in the group or just general words of encouragement and support if you can see someone suffering!

Now……if you know a non-member that might ride with us occasionally (all the time?) who may not read our blog too often (if ever?)……. go forth and share  this post via your social media platform of choice, good people!

If you have any feedback or questions on this or any other aspect of riding in SPR’s group rides, please do drop your friendly training and development sub-committee an email at development@southperthrouleurs.com.au

Braking (or not) when riding in a group

A key skill that all riders need to be able to demonstrate is effective braking. In a group ride, when someone is braking ineffectively or, worse, inappropriately, it can make for a very nervous and disjointed ride.

The Main Points

  • Most people ride with their hands on the brake hoods with one or two fingers on the brake levers. This is to be encouraged in a group, because unless you are at the front of the group, you should always be ready to use your brakes immediately (so either on the hoods or in the drops).
  • When riding in a group it is important that we do not grab our brakes every time the group or the person in front of us slows down
  • The best strategy to gaining a small amount of slowing without causing disruption to the group, is to ‘feather’ the brake levers slightly. This brings the brake pads into gentle contact with the wheel rims which will slow the bike down enough to deal with most situations in a group ride without causing problems to the riders behind
  • All riders should respond to the situations that they encounter with the interests of other riders in mind; grabbing a handful of brake unnecessarily or unexpectedly can have catastrophic affects on others whilst the culprit remains upright!
  • The key to braking effectively is to LOOK AHEAD, typically three to four riders, and to anticipate any changes in pace in the group well before it’s necessary to respond with the brakes. In many cases, stopping pedaling or drifting slightly to the right/left to use the wind as a brake (known as “air braking”) will do the job just fine.
  • In cases where braking is necessary/unavoidable then it should be combined with a clear call of “slowing” or “stopping”.

In this video, you will be shown the key skills required for effective braking. Of particular interest to us, is the section from 2:50 onward, where riding & braking (or not) in a bunch is specifically addressed.

   Watch Video

Practice This
The next few group rides you go on, try and brake less using these strategies:
  1. Look further ahead than you ordinarily do – try and focus on the riders at the front of the bunch, even if you’re at the very back
  2. Watch the pedaling  behaviour of the riders in front; if they start to freewheel, or pedal slower, there’s a good chance this will trickle its way down the group
  3. Manage your speed by adjusting your pedalling first; aim to ‘mimic’ what you see the riders in front doing
  4. Add an inch or two to the gap you leave to the wheel in front, increasing the “no brake required” buffer if the group slows a little
  5. Look for hazards up the road that may mean the group needs to slow down (roundabouts; pedastrian crossings; traffic lights) – try easing off the pedals slightly beforehand just to be ready if needed
  6. When you would ordinarily go for the brakes, resist the urge for just a little bit longer
  7. Focus on minimising the impact your braking has on the riders behind; “think then respond
Key Takeaways
  1. Braking heavily in a group can have serious consequences and should only be done with the thoughts of others in mind
  2. Good braking skills and judgement about when and when not to use our brakes only comes with experience and practice, practice, practice.
  3. It’s not the role of our ride leaders to be cycle coaches – everyone can help each other; a quiet word if you see something that could be improved is all it may take to help make the ride safer
  4. Communicate any feedback professionally and respectfully.

Any questions or comments on this post, please email development@southperthroulers.com.au

New Look Thursdays

As the Club continues to evolve we need to ensure that our training rides remain safe, relevant, consistent and predictable.

We recently introduced the “Fast Too” group to cater for riders wanting to ride a little faster than the main group, which has worked well up until now. What has become clear, however, is that a further separation of the groups is required to keep the size manageable and safe as well as to achieve an overall consistent pace for each group.

From this Thursday, we will break the groups into categories based on the SPR Thursday (Gairloch) Strava segment (https://www.strava.com/segments/5958997) as follows:

Group 1 – Less than 54:00mins

Group 2 – 54:00 to 59:00mins

Group 3 – 59:00 to 1:03mins

Group 4 – Greater than 1:03mins

We will target group sizes of between 18 and 20 riders so that any ‘towing’ effect is significantly reduced; this means that there will be a greater incentive for everyone to contribute more evenly and improve rolling through on fairly narrow roads. Smaller groups will also be better placed to manage occasional splits at roundabouts, pedestrian crossings and traffic lights (ie: short periods of light-pedaling).

Ride leaders have been asked to encourage riders in their groups at the commencement of each ride to be more controlled, so that a steady ‘training mode’ roll-through along Mounts Bay Rd is established; we wish to promote full group co-operation at a manageable speed before the first hill after Steve’s in Nedlands. Ride leaders have also been asked to support adjusting the pace on the return journey depending on the capacity of the whole group.

For this to work, what we need from all riders is the following:

  1. Review your last 3-6 months on the SPR Thursday (Gairloch) Strava segment (https://www.strava.com/segments/5958997) and find out which group is for you based on current fitness
  2. Review the new Thursday Ride Start Map  to know where your group will be leaving from
  3. If there is the need to break riders into 2 groups of the same category (that’s why we need you to wait in the right spot!), please respect the call of the Ride Leaders when they are dividing the groups. Remember, the ride will be at the same speed whether you go in the first or second group
  4. Send a link to this post to everyone you know who rides with SPR on Thursday’s but may not read the blog or Facebook page
  5. Ride for the “group” not just yourself; take your turn on the front but don’t try and pull the legs off other riders; you can still ride hard and keep the group intact
  6. Some groups may not have a designated ride leader, so help out by talking to each other and reinforcing the aim(s) of the ride

If everyone chooses the right group it will help us to achieve the goal of keeping the group together for the whole lap. Please note, we are not saying you HAVE to go in the group that your Strava time suggests for you; this is simply a guide. Some weeks you will feel stronger and want to have a go and hang on; other weeks you will want to take it a little easier. All we ask is that you respect the overall purpose & intended segment time of the group you select and ride accordingly.