At 7:30am on Saturday mornings, the Bike Religion crew hosts a Group Ride leaving from the shop at 149 Riverside Drive in Newport Beach. If you live and ride in the Orange County area, you’ve got to check it out.
In case you’re new to this Group Ride thing, here’s why they’re so important for cyclists of all skill levels:
It’s a fact that the strongest cyclists regularly do Group Rides. If you’re even vaguely interested in becoming a better, stronger rider then you need to find a Group Ride near you that fits with your aspirations and get out there. If you’re a regular on a Group Ride then you already know this and you’re reaping the benefits. Being a regular on a Group Ride gives us challenge, motivation, accountability, fellowship, a goal, and a little bit of daily purpose alongside our bigger purposes. When you get the kids to bed on time, get yourself good sleep, wake up early before anyone else, push yourself on the road with those like-minded, and have more fun before 11am than most people have all day then you know you’ve stumbled upon something worthwhile.
A good Group Ride can change your life. Seriously. If you’re a regular on a Group Ride, it already has. You’ve become a better, stronger, faster rider (and maybe even a better person) over time because of your passion and participation.
There are all kinds of Group Rides out there, some great and some not. So you need to know what you’re getting yourself into before you head out. The great aspect about the Bike Religion Group Ride is that riders of any fitness level will fit right in.
So you know what you’re getting yourself into, here are the Top Ten Reasons you should do Bike Religion’s Saturday morning Group Ride:
- Discipline, Motivation, and Inspiration – I find that when I’m disciplined enough to get out of bed to jump in with the group, I’m also more disciplined in other areas of my life: quality time with my family, patience with my toddler, work, sleep, diet, and other life priorities. I’m more motivated to train consistently when I know there are friends out there waiting for me. Additionally, it’s easy to find inspiration when riding with others. I learn a little bit every Group Ride – how to be a better bike handler, when to push and when to sit-in, how the newest gadgets and products work, and how to drive myself just a little bit further.
- Training – The physical, psychological, and emotional benefits of regular exercise are obvious and well-documented. Add to this, because there’s usually someone stronger than you in the group, there’s no better training than riding your bike with others stronger than you.
- Therapy – Most likely, you’ll always in a better state of mind when you get home. The endorphins get going, your brain and body are in sync, and you’re doing something you love. If more people had a positive, healthy outlet like this, the world would be a much better place.
- Rhythm – Variety may be the spice of life but regular rhythms and routine are the foundation. The Saturday morning ride is regular and you can count on it. Life = family, work, eat, sleep, ride. Wash, rinse, repeat.
- The Cycling Tribe – There are few subcultures with more etiquette, opinions, unique customs and language, unspoken rules, and causes for celebrations. Not many people get it but if you do there’s a special sense of belonging. To the uninitiated, cycling is sometimes viewed as an individual pursuit or maybe something to be shared with a few friends. But you can only be Han Solo for so long. Something special happens when a group of riders all show up at the same place, chat for a few minutes, click into their pedals simultaneously, and roll away into the morning in a blur of color and harmony of movement. The Bike Religion group is a tribe. There are no dues, interest fees, or weird rituals but membership still has its privileges.
- An Escape – When you’re pulling along in a good paceline, you’re completely in the moment and there’s not much room to think about anything else. You’re able to forget about struggles at work or home and simply focus on the present. The struggles are obviously still there when you return but you’re usually in a much better frame of mind to face them than when you left. Also, see #3.
- A Reality Check – When I ride on my own, I generally take it easier than when I ride with the group. If I go too long without a regular Group Ride then jump back in after a lay-off, I know right where my fitness is. And it’s usually not as good. The Group Ride will make you a stronger, better, more consistent rider.
- Self-Selecting – You want to be doing a Group Ride that challenges you at times. So you have to know that there’s a hierarchy out on the road that has nothing to do with your job, paycheck, education, ethnicity, or background. It has to do with your legs. You will find your place in that hierarchy quickly. If you stick with it, you will move up. If you respect the Group Ride’s etiquette, your personhood will not be judged based on where you are in the pecking order; but your legs might. That’s fine because your legs will get stronger.
- The Center of Your Local Cycling Culture – Similar to #5 but on a larger scale, those who talk and think about cycling, spend the most money at local bike shops (or online), watch race coverage on Versus, and read the magazines/blogs/websites, are the same folks who frequent Group Rides. If you want to know what’s going on in a local cycling scene anywhere, go do a Group Ride. If you want to know what’s happening in the Orange County cycling scene, you must do the Bike Religion ride.
- The Bike Religion Crew is the REAL Deal – We’re talking about the best bike shop with the most knowledgeable and experienced team in Southern California. If you haven’t met the owners John and Rachel personally, be sure to introduce yourself. They’re a power couple but very unassuming and willing to help with anything you need. Rachel is a former PRO racer and in the other, male-dominated Group Rides in the area, she’s up there with the strongest riders. I remember suffering along in the Pro/1/2/3 race at El Dorado Park a few years ago, I looked to my left and there was Rachel spinning effortlessly and breathing normally in the men’s race while I was praying for a flat tire to put me out of my misery. John’s an amateur Cat. 1 but don’t be fooled – he does all the PRO races with all the PRO riders in SoCal and puts the hurt on all the young talent. To this day, one of the hardest efforts I’ve ever made on the bike was simply trying to hold John’s wheel in a race! That being said, the BR ride isn’t a hammerfest and you can trust it’ll be safe and orderly with these folks as your guides. What’s more, with these kinds of pedigrees, you can be sure you have a bike shop staff that knows what they’re talking about.
If Group Rides are the center of any local cycling culture, then the local bike shop is the nucleus. That’s where it all goes down. Bike Religion is where you’ll hear all the stories, get all the information, pick up all the wisdom and insight that you need to become a better, stronger, more informed cyclist. So now there’s really no excuse – get out there! You’ll be happy you did.