Group riding isn’t for everyone. Some cyclists are just lone wolves who prefer the whirr of the freehub and their own thoughts to the lively chatter of a bunch of people – and that’s fine.

But for many of us, the group ride is the mainstay of our cycling experience, it’s the one regular ride of the week. It might even be the highlight of your month.

But what makes a group ride? How many people do you need? How long should it be? And what will reliably happen on (virtually) every group ride worthy of the name?

Here are 13 things that, in our experience, happen... Every. Single. Time.

Someone cries off

Usually by sending a weaselly message to the group WhatsApp chat. There is no greater shame in cycling. Except possibly doping.

- How to start a cycling club... and ten tips to make yours a success -

But not even Lance Armstrong phoned his DS on the day of Liege-Bastogne-Liege claiming he had ‘a stomach bug’ that ‘just came on over night’.  It’s funny how people always get stomach bugs on rainy mornings, isn’t it?

Someone is late for the meet

Whether you agree to meet at 5am or 6pm, there’s always somebody who can’t quite manage to get there in time. Usually it’s the same person every week. In our club his name is Ed. Damn you, Ed, and your disrespect for other people’s time.


You all get lost

No group ride is complete without someone either forgetting the route (if you’re old school) or simply failing to follow the route directions on their GPS bike computer correctly. We’ve all had that sinking moment of realisation that the ride ‘leader’ you are all blindly following has absolutely no clue where they are, or even where they’re supposed to be.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT GPS bike computer, first ride review, group ride, pic - Wahoo

Ever been on a ride where the leader is navigating using a GPX file loaded onto a running watch? We have. It was funny for the first 20 minutes.

Thank heaven for Google Maps is all we can say.

You all get competitive

At some stage, typically a particular hill or Strava segment, people on the group ride will get competitive and try and beat each other.

Geraint Thomas, attack, club ride, Team Sky, training, pic - Team Sky

What do you mean, steady tempo?

This usually happens when the cafe you’re stopping at for mid-ride coffee hoves into view and people feel they have a bit of energy left in the tank.

The mature thing to do is to not join in. The fun thing to do is to give it the beans.

You meet another group ride

Now, the question is, are they nice people who wave and say ‘hi’ as they pass you, or big dumb meanies who whoosh past, eyes fixed forwards?

We say, just be nice.

If you see another group, or even just a lone rider, be nice and wave...

Just be nice

Someone gets hangry at the cafe stop when their cake takes too long

Yes, Darren, it has taken over ten minutes to produce the single slice of Victoria sponge you ordered.

No, I don’t know why my delicious slice of coffee and walnut cake arrived almost instantaneously.

Yes, that does seem unfair. No, I don’t think you should ‘go back there’ and threaten the teenager working in the kitchen with your extendable hand pump.

The energy demands of cyclists mean they often need to consume far more than the average person (Pic: Cadence Performance)

You all stop for a pee. Individually.

Instead of being able to wait till the cafe, you all insist on stopping individually at roughly five minute intervals and crashing off into the trees for a solo wee break.

Admittedly, this is more of a dude thing, but girls can be culprits too. It’s like your mum always told you, ‘make sure you go before you leave the house’.

dhb Aeron Performance winter wear, training ride, group, rain, wet, pic - dhb

Someone offers you one of their homemade energy balls

What is it with cyclists these days, all baking up their own energy bars and producing performance-enhancing sludge with their kitchen food processor?

When did we stop buying disgusting-tasting sticky liquids in plastic pouches from shops, instead of manufacturing our own disgusting-tasting sticky liquids, but with added chia seeds? We’re not sure how the trend began, but we can’t want for it to fizzle out.

Someone starts a conversation about gear ratios... again

“Have you got a 28 or a 32 on there?"

“I can’t, guys. I just can’t. Not again."

Someone shouts hole

At, like, a crack in the tarmac measuring three millimetres across.

You all swerve to avoid the invisible obstacle, only for one of you to end up swerving into a ditch at the side of the road.

This is not a pothole

This is not a pothole

Someone doesn’t shout hole

Even though there definitely is one and someone else ends up disappearing into a gaping chasm.

Now THIS is a pothole

Now THIS is a pothole

Someone makes a terrible excuse for getting dropped

Cyclists love an excuse – here are some of our favourite excuses for getting dropped.

That moment when you can see the wheel in front disappearing...

That moment when you can see the wheel in front disappearing...

You realise your bike friends are the best friends

Even if they are late-running, hangry, excuse-making, hole-yelling, lost-getting numpties.