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How to be a Good 5BBC Rider

David Meltzer | Published on 3/25/2021

You have a bike. You have ridden around the neighborhood. Maybe you commute. Now, you have decided to join the 5BBC.  And you wonder, what makes a good club rider? This article will attempt to answer that question.

Your Bicycle

We will start here. I have seen all sorts of bikes on a ride. I've seen expensive titanium bikes. I've seen hybrids. I've seen beach cruisers. But, whatever bike you use on the ride, it has to be in good shape. This means arriving at the ride with proper air in the tires, a clean and lubed chain, and working brakes, gears and shifters. The Two Minute Bike Check , done by leaders at the start of the ride, is not the time to find out that your bike has issues. And as everyone eventually has a “mechanical” - take spare tubes, patch kits, pump and levers.

While we are on the subject of bikes, let's talk about what bike you need. Different rides need different bikes. It would be a fools errand to bring a single speed on a hilly ride. Unless you are a strong rider, taking a hybrid on an advanced moderate or quick spin may be a mistake. And, there are rides where we go off road, and maybe your 5K Pinarello would not be proper for that type of ride. Normally, you can tell by the ride what bike you will need. And if not – contact the leader.

Before the Ride

First, make sure that this is a good ride for you to do. Just getting back into cycling – maybe a 55 miler with 3K in elevation is not for you at this time. A good way to know about the ride is to review the Blurb. Many times the leaders of the ride will provide information about pace, hills, late lunch stops, and other essential factors. The web site also contains definitions of our different pace levels.

Many cyclists in the club prepare before the ride. This makes sure that both you and your bike are in good order. Lay out what you need the night before. Make a lunch if it is a picnic ride. Print out a cue sheet or download the Ride with GPS file. A law professor once told me the six Ps – Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

Show up on time to the start. Don't expect a group to wait for you to appear thirty minutes late. Introduce yourself to people you don't know. Say hi to your friends. But once the leader starts “the spiel”, it is important to listen. There are two basic reasons for this. First, this is where important ride information is shared with the group. Second, it's just rude to talk over the leader.

On the Ride

The ride is not about YOU. It is about the GROUP. While we do try to accommodate our riders, do not expect to receive individual attention to your every need. The group cannot stop whenever anyone wants to take a photo. We cannot stop for every bathroom. Not every place we stop for lunch is Kosher, gluten free or vegetarian.

Good club members “drop.” If you are riding behind a leader who asks you to drop – do it. This is the way that many of our rides are conducted. And remember – be alert when you are a drop. And, remain there till you are relieved by the sweep.

Good club members are safe riders. We are aware of our other riders, cars, and pedestrians. We ride mostly single and certainly no more than double file. We call out hazards. We communicate with each other.

On occasion, a rider will need to leave the ride early. If you need to leave – make sure that you tell one of the leaders.

When Things go Wrong

There are perfect rides. Great weather, cohesive group, no mechanicals. But more often than not, there will be something that goes amiss. As the saying goes - “Shit Happens.” Leaders make wrong turns. Riders have mechanicals. Roads are milled or unpassable. Lunch takes forever. The simple fact is that once you are on the road – you never know. Good riders take these things in stride.

Remember, the worst day on a bike – is still a great day.