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How to fit in with the crowd on your next group ride

With summer officially here and the tri season well underway, long weekend rides with friends have arrived. But before you head out onto the road with a cycling club, here are a few tips to help ease your transition from long rides on the aero bars to leg stinging surges in a pack.

Related: Cycling etiquette for triathletes

1. Take off your aero bars. Unless you have a tri bike and road bike, having aero bars in a bike pack is dangerous. You have less control and are unable to react to changes in the pack, road conditions and pace.

2. Don’t wear a tri suit. Unless you want to the subject of all jokes for the next five hours.

3. No socks are a cycling no-no. Make sure you have a pair of high socks – it just looks cool.

4. Shave your legs. If you haven’t shaved your legs yet, you’re missing out on the aero gains – #AeroIsEverything. But for cycling, it also helps reduce the risk of infection if you end up in a crash.

Related: Smooth legs are faster than hairy legs

5. Bring money for a coffee stop. Touch up on your Italian coffee slang.

Related: The go-to coffee orders for pro triathletes

6. Signal changes in the road surface. Riders behind you are trusting your line, and that you’ll point out any road dangers. Remember to point out rocks, loose gravel, sticks, debris and potholes.

7. Learn to hold a wheel, and keep a steady pace in the front. The worst feeling in a group ride is having to continuously accelerate and decelerate when someone new comes to the front and suddenly changes the pace. Unless it is agreed upon that the ride is a “drop ride” or an “interval session” maintain the speed when coming to the front. If you want to ratch up the pace, do so slowly and see who can match your effort.

8. Get your bike serviced. Squeaks and grinding gears are annoying.  You may be able to put up with it on a solo ride, but when going out for a group ride, make sure your bike is all tuned up and ready to go. A clean bike is a fast bike.

Related: Five training groups across Canada

9. Hold your line. It’s really important that you are predictable in your movements and you don’t weave when you’re riding in a group. That goes for taking corners, too.

10. Stay relaxed. There will inevitably be some contact along the way. Believe it or not, you won’t come off your bike if you bump shoulders with someone. Don’t hold the handlebars in a death grip – guide your bike and remember to hold that line.

And last but not least, don’t make it known that you’ll be doing a brick run after. Better yet, avoid doing brick runs when you go out for a group ride with your local club. It’s during the post-ride coffee and snacks where you get to unwind and chat about things other than biking and racing.