The Gruppo Sportivo or GS-GFNY are happy to have you aboard for our Sunday group rides leading up to the #thirdSundayinMay – in 2022 that’s May 15! To participate in the group rides you only need to be registered for the race, be self-sufficient on your bike, follow some basic ground rules, and be able to hold the pace of one of the three groups that will go out each Sunday at 8AM from Allison Park in Englewood Cliffs, NJ – just a few feet North of Fort Lee. Here is a map link for easy reference https://goo.gl/maps/fBBumaKpf9ktA1YD6.
The group rides provide riders in the New York City area that are registered for the race, the opportunity to meet other riders, reconnect with riders you may know already, learn some new skills, and start to build up the base miles that you will need to have a great day on the bike at the GFNY NYC Championship. Above all, the rides are designed to show you the course, and to keep enjoying cycling all Winter long and into the Spring. Let’s face it, these rides will keep you motivated on days when the couch seems like a much better idea. Trust us – it’ isn’t! When attending each week, you may eventually find yourself ready to try riding with a faster group, climbing more confidently, or handling the elements. Whatever your desired result, it’s the proven preparation for your best GFNY Championship NYC performance.
So let’s get to it, because the more you know about how the group rides work, the more enjoyment and benefit you will achieve.
First Things First – The Mandatory Minimums
First, some basics. The GS-GFNY (Gruppo Sportivo-GFNY), the official ambassador team of the GFNY NYC Championship, needs to know that you are coming. This helps the team to know who is along for the ride, and how big the groups will be each week. This helps the team plan how many ride leaders are needed, what groups they are needed in, and of course how to manage the route planning based on the size and skill level of the registered riders.
There are two minimums you must meet to attend the rides – no exceptions:
- You must be registered for the 2022 GFNY NYC Championship. You can do that here if you haven’t done so already. (Worth noting that the price goes up the longer you wait, so, do the math. Lower registration fee + free group rides = no brainer). If you haven’t registered for GFNY you can register here. (If you are a GFNY Club member you can also join the rides!)
- Sign up for the group rides on the Thursday or Friday morning prior to the Sunday that you will be riding. The registrations will open each week on the GFNY.CC site (registration and waiver on the same form) on those Thursday mornings and will close on Friday night at midnight. As stated earlier, knowing who and how many, allows the GS-GFNY to plan accordingly and create the best possible experience on the rides.
Ready to Ride?
Awesome. You are registered for the race, you understand the current safety protocols, and you are registered on GFNY.CC for the ride. On to the fun stuff.
The GFNY Group rides are fun, social, and productive training for the big day. So think of every ride as a bit of a dress rehearsal. Put simply, however you would prepare for the #thirdSundayinMay, is how you should prepare for the group ride. Your bike is in tip-top shape, because you clean it and maintain it regularly. You’re tires are inflated properly (and have been checked for cuts), chain is lubed, brake pads in good order. Nothing worse than having to call a car or limp home with a broken part. Some things to make sure you always have:
- Face covering
- 2 tubes
- 3 CO2 cartridges (in case one goes bad – don’t think it can’t happen)
- The nozzle for your CO2
- Tire levers
- Basic tools of some sort
- If you are an electronic shifter – CHARGE YOUR BATTERIES OR BRING SPARES – don’t find out that Little Tor is on the route, and you don’t have the ability to get on to the little ring.
- Nutrition and hydration – we suggest two bottles and at least a gel or two, and a bar of some sort. We even know a guy who can pack a sandwich or a burrito in his jersey. (don’t be that guy, live simply, and leave the turkey dinner at home).
Realistically speaking, if you are down to needing to replace busted chain link, or something like that, you are probably using a ride-share app to get home. No one likes breaking their knuckles across chain metal when it’s 30 degrees out.
Moving on to your kit, you are dressed to meet the elements. As a smart GFNY rider, you understand how the NY/NJ area treats you in December, January, February, March, April – and oh – sometimes May! You watch the weather and plan your wardrobe for ride day accordingly. A good rule of thumb: whatever the temperature is (Farenheit), subtract 10 degrees. That’s what it will feel like on the bike. So if it’s 38 degrees, plan on it feeling like 28 degrees. Trust us, the ride will be much more enjoyable if you are dressed properly. There is nothing more miserable than being cold and knowing you have 18 miles back to the barn while you are suffering. If you want to suffer – may we suggest hill repeats or a continuous loop of Duran Duran’s second album!
Some tips on what to wear can be found here.
One of the most important pieces of gear you can have for the ride, and something you can’t ride without, is your helmet. Like we said, prepare as if it is a dress rehearsal for race day. Helmets will always be required, so make sure that you have it in your kit bag when you leave the house, as you won’t be allowed to ride with the group without it.
Conversely, feel free to leave your headphones at home. Headphones on a group ride, or in the race are dangerous. Please don’t bring them, you will be asked to remove them for the safety of the group.
You will also want to leave your time-trial / triathlon bike, or aerobars at home. Those types of bike have their purpose, but group riding isn’t it.
Please also refrain from taking photographs while the groups are in motion. While we know that everyone is anxious to capture the spirit of the day, but being distracted with your phone or camera out can cause danger for the group. Save the photo-opps for coffee stops and scheduled photo stops or regroups.
Lastly, it’s always helpful to have the route. If you are on the GFNY Facebook group, the route will be posted the Saturday prior to the ride. This should provide enough time to study the route, print a cue sheet, or load it onto your bike computer. It’s always helpful to study the route for a few minutes prior to arrival, so that you can decide which group to ride with. The amount of climbing, number of turns, etc..might provide some insight into what the right group is for your ability on that day. But never fear, often times, if you can’t keep up with one group, another group is right behind traveling the same or a similar route, at a slower pace.
Should you ever lose the group and are not sure what to do next, navigating back to route 9W and pointing yourself South, will always be the simplest answer for getting back to Allison Park.
Sunday Fun Facts:
- Arrive at the start location ready to go at least 20 minutes before the ride time
- Plan to have the last of your coffee down by no less than 10 minutes before the ride time
- Each group will roll out separately the A’s first, followed by the Killer B’s, and then the C’s. Groups will roll out in numbers of no more than ten each.
- When arriving at the ride location, always check-in with the ride leaders
On the Road
And now to the road – awesome! This is the best part, the ride. Remember though, that riding in a group is governed by some physics-driven etiquette that you don’t really have when you are riding alone or with a small group. Above all, the GS-GFNY are there to help the group have a safe, fun, and social riding experience that gets you ready for race day. But while we treat preparation for riding like a dress rehearsal for the race, the group rides, are NOT A RACE! These are not the days for segment chasing, or PR setting, but rather the days to learn how to ride with a group so that the whole group benefits. Let’s unpack that.
- The GS-GFNY ride leaders love to be up front and set the pace. Don’t pass the ride leaders unless you are planning to leave the ride. The ride leaders will not chase you down, they will stay with the group. Listen to any instructions they may provide.
- Remember this is not a race. Ride at the pace of the group and get to know those around you. But do this safely. That means being predictable, riding at a steady pace, and not doing any sudden braking or turning. Keep your eyes on the rider in front of you and the road. Pass any hand signals back by imitating the signals you see coming from the ride leader.
- Drafting may be new to you. So draft as close to the rider in front as you are comfortable, but do not allow a big gap to develop that will split the group. The ride leaders may ask you to “close it up” or “close that gap”. This is your indication that you should start working to get closer to the wheel in front of you if a gap is developing.
- Hand signals are critical – do them even when you are by yourself, or the last rider in the group, to make sure you are continuing to develop the habit. If the rider in front of you points out an obstacle, point it out for the rider in front of you. Here’s how:
- Point down at potholes or other road conditions to let riders behind you know what you see
- Wave your hand behind your back to signal moving over when a larger road hazard is ahead. (Think going around a parked car or a runner coming toward the group).
- Hold your closed fist up with a bent elbow to indicate that you are stopping.
- The hand signals listed above should be about all you need to stay safe within the group, so there is no need to yell “car back” or “hole” or “runner up” – these will only be confusing to the others in the group and may cause unnecessary sudden movements. Stick to the hand signals.
- Do your best not to brake within the group to adjust your speed. While you want to have your hands in a good position to reach the brakes, use your gearing or your cadence to adjust your speed. Watching that rider in front of you will help you dictate your pace safely.
- Always stay single file unless told otherwise by the group leader. Most of Rockland County now requires riders to ride single file. It’s just safer.
- Stop at all traffic signals and stop signs and pay attention to the group leader in those situations. If stopping at a traffic signal, don’t bunch up. Maintain your place in line. Spreading out 3-4 riders across a lane will only snarl traffic and create angrier drivers.
- If for some reason the group has to stop to regroup, or for some other issue, make sure you are out of the road – get your bike and your body as far to the right and off the road as you can to support the ride leader in the regrouping process.
- When climbing, if you are able to pass the rider in front of you, do so safely and quickly. If you can’t pass them safely and quickly, stay where you are, gear down, and use it as a training opportunity. Spreading out 3-4 riders on a climb will cause safety and traffic issues. Know when to go, and if you can, pick a pace you like up the climb, and stick with it.
Attentive, predictable, courteous, and single file, is the short version.
Finally, if you see another rider struggling (who hasn’t from time to time – we have all been there), give them some encouragement. It may be their first time out. Let them know that they’ve got this. Others may have done the same for you as you were starting out, or when you were having a bad day. Pay it forward.
Above all, be attentive and follow the instructions of the group leaders. While the #thirdSundayinMay may seem a long way off now, it really isn’t. These next 12-14 weeks will provide you with the insight and confidence to tackle one of the most challenging race courses on the planet and have your best race ever. If you have any questions, the GS-GFNY are there to answer them and help. Please don’t hesitate to ask.