Group rides are an important part of cycling training. In a culture that doesn’t grow up watching bike racing, the group ride is our way of learning all the dynamics of riding in a group. The early season group ride is always an interesting challenge. Inevitably there is always a wide variety of fitness levels and comfort levels in the group. Some are there to supplement base training, some are there to try a group ride for the first time and others are there to train for an upcoming race. (our team used to race Valley of the Sun in Phoenix in February and group rides were a way to get used to new teammates in a semi-race environment)
I can’t emphasize enough how important the group ride is in becoming a successful bike racer. The skills required to ride in a group are equally important to fitness. We are all rusty after a fall of easy riding or cross and the group ride is critical to shaking off the dust and getting in the right mindset for racing in the spring.
So for early season, find a ride that fits what you are looking for in your training cycle. Hopefully you have a few options that fit your training. If not, ride the group ride based on what you want to get out of it. For example, I just hit the Gateway ride last weekend and only did the cruising portions of it since I am just getting miles in on the bike and not training to race anytime soon. I also wanted to do a longer run on Sunday and wanted to save a bit of my legs.
Other info on Group Rides: