Twelve people you meet on every group ride - Road Cycling UK

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Twelve people you meet on every group ride

From the mechanic to the backseat navigator, how many of these do you recognise?

Group rides can take many forms: you’ve got the small bunch of mates who head out together on a semi-regular basis; the weekly club run with a route and meet time that has been set in stone for time immemorial; and of course the random collection of cyclists that answer the call when someone posts “Anyone fancy a 60 miler on Sunday morning?” on social media.

But regardless of the nature of your group ride, there seem to be a few characters that just keep popping up. Which of these do you recognise?

The food scientist

Sports nutrition has come a long way, and that’s had an effect not just on the pros, but at amateur level too.

In fact, it seems nowadays there’s always somebody in the group ride who wants you to try their latest concoction – brewed up in their home lab (kitchen) using “only the finest chia gratings, bumblebee milk and pumpernickel chaff”.

“Just knocked it up in the lab last night” (Pic: Etixx)

They will try to tell you it’s good for you, that it’s like a homemade energy gel. They will tell you it’s supposed to have that consistency and colour.

Do not listen to this person, he or she is not your friend. And whatever you do, don’t eat anything they try to foist upon you. What’s wrong with a good old banana and a Mars bar anyway?

The chatterbox

The chatterbox is an absolute delight to have on any ride, keeping you entertained with lively banter all the way from kilometre zero through to the finish.

Perhaps a little depressingly, they seem able to keep up a constant conversation, regardless of the terrain ahead of them.

Every group ride needs a chatterbox – just maybe not when you’re riding alongside them, struggling up a climb

Every group ride should have a chatterbox, just make sure you’re not riding side by side with them as you hit the day’s biggest climb – as they’ll expect you to keep chatting back to them, even when you’re blowing.

The mechanic

Another absolute gem to have on a group ride is the mechanic – someone who can repair a bike beyond the basics of changing a flat inner tube or tweaking a barrel adjuster.

Just when it looks like your bike is irreparably busted and you’ll be taking the long, sad taxi ride of shame back home, the mechanic will speak up: “I can fix that for you, hang on a tick.”

Where would you be without the group mechanic? (pic – Velodenz, via Flickr Creative Commons)

As if by magic he or she will conjure some arcane tool you’ve never even seen before from the dark recesses of a jersey pocket and proceed to realign your derailleur, reattach a broken spoke or whatever else it is that was wrong with your infernal machine.

In response to your looks of astonished wonderment they will mutter something about “Always bringing a Pontins 3.36 Sprocket Wangler” on a group ride.

The one-upper

Unfortunately there’s often somebody on a group ride who just can’t help themselves but rain on your parade.

“Oh you did the Haute Route? I did that a few years ago, but I didn’t think it was that tough.”

Cheers, mate. Remind me not to talk to you next week, yeah?

The heart rate bore

I cannot say this enough times – nobody gives a fig about your heart rate. Yes, technology is wonderful and yes, we all like to think we’re employing the same methods as the pros to get the best results we can – but honestly it makes for pretty dry conversation.

“Guys, you’ll never guess my BPM!” (Pic: Media24)

Unfortunately, group rides tend to attract at least one person who can’t wait to tell you how many beats per minute their ticker is pumping out, as well as their percentage of threshold and which zone they’re in.

If you are this person, watch you don’t land yourself in the ‘people we don’t invite on group rides anymore’ zone.

The pothole spotter

Rumour has it that this rider lost his entire family to an unseen crevasse, while riding their matching tandems.

As a result, the pothole spotter has dedicated their life to pointing at every single minor obstacle in the road and bellowing ‘HOLE’.

“HOLE!” (Pic: JoshuaDavisPhotography / Creative Commons)


For those of us not pathologically obsessed by the lurking dangers of an unannounced manhole cover, this can be a little bit testing.

The backseat navigator

“Oh, are you sure we should go down Buntingford Lane? Isn’t it a bit quicker to go via the B6197 and rejoin the main road after Wugglington?”

Don’t be a backseat navigator (Pic: DT Swiss)

There are few things more irritating than having one’s carefully-planned, tried and tested route questioned at every turn by someone who didn’t even volunteer to lead the ride themselves.

Even if you do have an opinion on the route, unless the designated leader of your group ride has you headed for certain doom (pit full of sharpened stakes, a volcanic crater, into the path of a landing jumbo jet), then it’s really more polite to keep your opinions to yourself.

The unreliable navigator

Or course you couldn’t have the aforementioned backseat navigator without the other extreme, the ride leader who has no idea where you’re supposed to be headed.

Leading the ride? Make sure you know where you’re heading (Pic: Chapeau)

The problem is you don’t realise how feckless they are until it’s too late and you’ve already been led down four different wrong turns, crossed a small footbridge over a stream bed and been led into the middle of a farmer’s field full of silently judgmental bovines.

Sir Droppedalot

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get better, but there are also more efficient ways of doing so than turning up to the same group ride every week, just to get dropped after 20 minutes.

“Guys! Wait up!” (Pic: Chapeau)

Nice people will stop and wait for those that get dropped, because it’s, well, nice, but having that generosity strained can also be a little bit wearing.

Riding with people who are slightly better than you is a great way to get fit, but trying to run before you can walk is a guaranteed way to ruin yours, and their, ride.

The one-speed hero

The point of riding socially is somewhat lost on this rider – he or she just wants to go as fast as they can, with scant regard for concepts like ‘teamwork’, ‘co-operation’ and ‘tempo’.  

What do you mean, steady tempo? (pic – Team Sky)

Expect to see them come to the front of the bunch when it’s their turn, but instead of keeping the same speed as the group, give it the full beans and disappear off into the distance.

The wardrobe malfunction

How is it that there is always somebody on the group ride who has dressed inappropriately?

Dress appropriately, for yours and your ride mates’ good (Pic: Chapeau)

Either they’re wearing far too many layers and have to pull up on the side of the road to remove one of their three jackets they put on for a sunny mid-May jaunt around the countryside, or they’re shivering half to death at the cafe stop because they came out of the house in the dark early days of January in a lightweight summer climber’s jersey.

The mystery guest

There’s a tendency for a well-organised group ride to pick up a few ‘stragglers’. I know I’ve definitely clung onto a few strangers’ wheels when I’ve been struggling to get through the kilometres on a solo training ride.

Typically, the interloper will disappear seemingly as quickly as they materialised, leaving you to have a conversation like this in the cafe at the end.

“Who was that guy with the beard? Was he with us?”

“I thought he was your mate?”

“Me? No, I’ve never seen him before in my life.”


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