I remember heading out on my first group ride after getting a road bike. I was totally worried about getting dropped the group or about them talking behind my back when I left and saying how slow I am. The reality is that I held my own through most of the ride. The only thing that really killed me was hills and headwinds.
It’s an often touted saying that hills and headwinds really show who’s in shape and it’s entirely the truth. Most cyclists of moderate fitness/skill can sit in a group going 30 – 35km/hour for 50km, the thing that shows how fit they really are is when it’s their turn to pull at the front in a headwind and when the group turns up hill.
If you’re worried about hanging with a group on your first ride:
- So was every member of that group on their first ride
- If you’re riding within 10 – 20km of the expected distance you’re fine
- As long as it’s not a group of Cat 1 racers and you’re a rec rider you’ll be fine in the group
- Get some climbing or long headwind rides in for a few weeks before to build up your fitness and mental toughness
Bottom line is you’ll probably be fine hanging with them. They were all the ‘new guy/girl’ at one point too so they remember it. It’s also useful to remember that they may have ‘new guy’ pace. I’m 10 years younger than the guys I ride with and the first day we hit my fastest pace ever. The group has never gone that fast again, they totally have ‘new guy’ pace even though they won’t admit it.
I still ride with them because it’s fun and group riding skills are needed. Just get out and ride.