Newcomer's Ride

14 replies [Last post]
Anonymous's picture

"As a long-time member of the club, I was a embarrassed at the way the B-15 ride was handled. I normally ride with A groups, but went on the B-15 newcomers ride to accompany my wife on her first group ride.

The leaders made a nice presentation at the boathouse saying, among other things that, ""this is a B-15 ride, what that means is that on the flats we will try for a speed of 15 miles per hour, we won't go faster than that"" and that anyone who wanted to ride slower or faster could switch to another group. A showing of hands indicated that about half of the group was there on their first-ever group/NYCC ride.

Well, as soon as we were on the longer sections of road in NJ we were cruising along at 18-20 miles per hour. When I questioned one of the ride leaders about the pace(at a rest stop), she replied that it was because of ""a tail wind"". Another leader, who had been drafting me at the back of the group to keep up, moved to the front after the rest stop and told us that he would keep the pace down. He managed to hold the pace down to 17-18 m.p.h., still a good bit faster than advertised. This leader apologized at the picnic saying, in effect, "" is so easy to just let the speed drift up"". Well, you're supposed to be the ride leader, pay attention!

My wife was constantly off the back riding alone in the wind, I offered to ride ahead of her and let her draft me, but she was uncomfortable being behind someone at that speed. The leaders never said anything to people who passed on downhills (which, during their boathouse presentation, they specifically asked people not to do). And the leader who claimed the speed was due to a tailwind was standing next to us at the picnic boasting to the riders from other groups about how fast our group had been riding.

People choose the speeds of their rides based on considerations other than how fast they are capable of riding. Maybe they like the slow pace and scenery, maybe they don't corner well at higher speeds, maybe they are new to riding (at the newcomers ride!) in groups and want to ride slowly their first time and get a feel for the dynamic.

If you are going to LEAD a ride, especially a newcomer's ride, exercise a little LEADERSHIP. Stick to the pace you advertise and at least try to enforce the rules you announce. If you DO NOT want to ride 15mph, list the ride as faster and slower riders can choose something else.

I know of at least one person who will never go on another NYCC ride or renew her membership. I will certainly be reluctant to introduce friends to the club after this experience. My wife felt like she was invited along to be humiliated."

Anonymous's picture
GerryV (not verified)


Let me apologize to you and your wife. When I took the lead after the pit-stop, I thought I had in fact gotten the speed down to 15.7-16 mph. Granted, while on the downslopes, I let the speed drift a little faster, I was consciously bringing it back down as soon as we'd hit the flats. I could have gone slower but thought after speaking with you at lunch time that the pace was comfortable. There was never an intention to humiliate any one.

I feel very badly and hope this experience does not discourage you and your wife from joining future rides. I accept your criticism and am now more cognizant of my own failing. I wish I had been more ""situationally aware"" at the time of the ride.

Again, I apologize.


Anonymous's picture
Bob Mirell (not verified)
Here Here!!!

Forgetting the circumstances of this unfortunate event for the moment, I'd like to give a standing ovation to Gerry V for showing integrity, compassion and class in the apology.

Although enforcing the pace is important, when we talk about what else it takes to be a responsible leader...we should use Gerry as an example.

Anonymous's picture
RobertoC (not verified)


It is kind of you to offer the apology. I know that no one intended to humiliate anybody, but I had the benefit of previous experience with NYCC group rides. It is harder to explain to someone who just spent a few hours suffering on a ride that was supposed to be easily within their capabilities.

Thank you for the thoughtful response.

Anonymous's picture
Nick (not verified)
I would agree

I was on this ride with the B15 group. I would agree with RobertoC that the pace especially going to NJ was faster than advertised; the pace did slow a bit after lunch on our return. Personally, I had no problem with the pace but I would think that if a rider expected a B15 which actually rode more like a B17 then that rider would have a right to complain. A good leader always rides for the good of the group and not themselves. Leading a ride is not rocket science. If group consensus agreed to change the pace then that is fine; failing that then leaders should stick to the advertised pace.

Other than the above point made, the leaders were quite capable and the ride was very enjoyable.

Anonymous's picture
Ellen (not verified)

I was so surprised to find your message and most regretful of yours and your wife's unpleasant experience on a ride that I hoped would be fun for everyone!
I honestly didn't know she was struggling. The several times we stopped to consolidate the group I asked if the pace was okay. I heard nothing otherwise and wonder why you didn't just tell me. I gladly would have slowed or perhaps split the group in two.
In any case I urge your wife not to toss out the club for one bad experience. She'd be missing a lot.
Again, my sincere regrets.


Anonymous's picture
RobertoC (not verified)


We were asked twice, once at the entrance to the GWB and once in the neighborhoods behind 9W about the pace. In both those cases the pace had been as advertised due to the frequent turns and stop signs....typical for city riding. It was on the long stretches of road that there was a problem. I DID mention that the speed was too fast - at the ice cream shop, which is where you told me the pace was due to ""a tail wind"". At that point we were only a few miles from the park. After we left the rest stop, Gerry took over the lead and dropped the pace to what I would call a B-17.

Gerry asked us again about the pace at the picnic and said he had still let the pace drift up a little bit. Even so, the ride back to the bridge was still a 17 mph pace, but shorter.

The issue for Liz wasn't so much the ability to pedal at that pace, she was uneasy riding in a group at that speed (this was her first group ride) and people were constantly passing without announcing themselves.

Liz and I stopped at the GWB on the way home and let the group go on without us because Liz was furious and truly upset at how the ride was handled.

I don't enjoy making these sorts of postings on the message board. I spoke with you a good deal on the ride back and you seem like a very nice, intelligent person. For the record, I don't believe any of this was intentional on the part of the ride leaders. Just not very thoughtful to newcomers.


Anonymous's picture
Chaim (not verified)
B15s Were Not Riding That Fast

It is very easy to criticize but much harder to do the actual work. I don't know if you have ride leading experience or not, but I can assure you that the B15s were not riding as fast as you claimed. You wrote: ""After we left the rest stop, Gerry took over the lead and dropped the pace to what I would call a B-17"" and ""...the ride back to the bridge was still a 17 mph pace, but shorter"". I was in the B16 group and we were riding at a 16 rate, and I can assure you that the B15 group never passed us. I believe that your claims about a B17 pace are exaggerations.
I am sorry you and your wife did not enjoy the ride more, but at the same time I have to say that it is very ungracious of you to criticize the leaders publicly, especially since they are volunteers who gave their time for the benefit of the club and the other riders, most of whom appreciated their efforts. If you thought their performance was less than perfect, you should have spoken to them privately."

Anonymous's picture
RobertoC (not verified)

Is this the same Chaim that cut the line ahead of me at the Deli on the newcomers ride? Just curious, because it would be funny if THAT Chaim were calling ME ungracious.

I disagree with you, Chaim, and on other points you are simply wrong. I have looked at the speed graph from my heart rate monitor/computer; my characterization of the speed is accurate. The fact that we didn't pass you could be attributed to rest stops, flat tires, a slightly different route, red lights or any number of other things.

As for being ungracious, I was very careful not to make my criticisms personal and to stick to the issue at hand: the speed of the ride and the responsibilites of a ride leader. Is it your position that no criticism whatsoever should appear on the message board, no matter what happens? I have taken the time to post what I think were thoughtful replies to the leaders who responded to my original message and even thanked them for the apologies that they offered. I have also said explicitly that I didn't think it was malicious or intentional on the part of the leaders and that I don't particularly enjoy making these sorts of posts.

I find it odd that you have an opinion about the speed and nature of the ride when you weren't even part of the group.

Anonymous's picture
RobertoC (not verified)


I did speak to the ride leaders privately, if you had read the original posts and replies you would know that. The reason I mentioned the ""tailwind"" comment was so that it would be clear that my concerns didn't seem to be taken seriously at the time they were made.

I didn't post the original message to embarrass anyone and I don't think you can claim that it was hostile...slightly angry, maybe, but not personal or hostile. I have been a member of this club for 4-5 years, I started with B rides and now ride with the A groups. I have recommended the club to many cyclists I have met and I think it is the responsibility of club members to speak up when they see something that could affect the club negatively. A public discussion about a specific problem and the nature of leading a newcomers ride...or any ride, for that matter... benefits everyone. I imagine anyone who reads this thread will have some things to consider when/if they lead rides in the future.

No, I haven't lead an NYCC ride. But I have led people on rides before and I know that it is challenging. Even moreso with a group of newcomers. As a member, I would hope that if I did something inconsiderate, dangerous, or just plain stupid (not unlikely) that others would not be afraid to post something about it for discussion. Especially if they were able to refrain from personal attacks in their description of the event."

Anonymous's picture
Mark (not verified)
B-16 Ride Was Perfect

In response to the previous post, I just wanted to say that leaders of the B16 ride were fantastic and did a great job keeping pace for everyone I feel.
Also, it was great meeting everyone at the B16 ride and I hope we can all stay in touch... my email is [email protected] so I look forward to hearing from you all.


Anonymous's picture
RobertoC (not verified)

I don't mean to trash the whole event. I am sure lots of people had a good time and that the club was generally well-served by most of the ride leaders.

Anonymous's picture
Rick Braun (not verified)

"On behalf of my co-leaders, Brad and Steve (who were both leading their first NYCC ride as recent graduates of Linda Wintner's, David Hallerman's and my B17 SIG group), and me, thank you, Mark! I am glad that you enjoyed the ride. I thought that you all rode and followed our directions as to how to ride as a group really well with our B16 group on Saturday, especially for ""newcomers"". To all of you newcomers, I strongly encourage you to take our free SIG training program next year. Enjoy the Summer riding, and you are welcome to ride with me again any time"

Anonymous's picture
Sima (not verified)
Bike group over the week

I don't know if this is a right place to write, but I will try. I am new at bikking, and I am trying to find a group that trains in the Central park during the week, after work hours.
Can anyone give me any suggestion.
Thank you so much.

Anonymous's picture
Andrew (not verified)
Good place to start.

"This is a good, mellow recurring week-night ride. This week the weather is bad so you might have to wait til next Wednesday. Generally, any ""C"" ride will be friendly, non-competitive, and suited for folks new to cycling. There is a good information page on this site-- click on ""rides"" above.

C 14 18 Miles 7:00 PM

Stressbusters in Central Park
Leader: Dave Sabbarese ([email protected])
From: The Engineer's Gate in Central Park (5th Ave & 90th St)
Our mid-week spinning session is designed to keep us fit in between
our weekend rides. We'll do three laps around the park, learning
good techniques and stressing safety. If you are new to the NYCC
or would like to know what we're about, this might be a good place
to start. Bring a well-maintained bicycle and helmet (mandatory),
blinking lights (suggested as we may be ending after dusk), and a
lock and some pocket change (as we have been known to grab a bite
and a beer afterwards on occasion). Lousy weather cancels.

cycling trips