Truth in Advertising

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Anonymous's picture

"I'm fairly new to the club but not to cycling. I've gone on about six NYCC B16 rides,5bbc B-15/16 rides (yes there are some) and B rides with the Bicycle Touring club of North Jersey so I know I'm a fairly strong B16.

I enjoy riding with the club and meeting new people so I'm not out to start a war or insult any of the wonderful ride leaders,but I do have to tell you that today my day was ruined. The weather was great and I was all in the mood for a nice long ride. I met the B16 ride at 72nd steet and we rode on the bike path toward the bridge. Well, after several minutes the ride pace picked up, by the time I got to the lighthouse I was doing 16/17 with a head wind in the back of the group with several other riders. The front was nowhere to be seen.

I know I can do 16/18 depending on terrain/ head winds and slower on the hills, but I knew if I pushed my self any more I'd have burnt out before the hills. I told Ellen that I was leaving because this was not a B16 and she said Jay would slow down. I left becase I did not like feeing they were doing me a favor. I could have gone on another ride that left at nine but it was too late by then. It was not fair to get dropped from a B16 when I was doing 16/17.

Your own policy on the web says the following:

escribe your ride as advertised in the bulletin, including distance and pace (cruising speed).

* Members must rely on the pace (cruising speed) and ride description as advertised, therefore, the leader is expected to adhere to his/her description accordingly. To deviate from this at the start would certainly be unfair to any participants who planned on doing the advertised ride. Monitor your speed often during the ride, as it is easy to be pressured by riders ""pushing the pace."" Make allowances for hills. Keep the speed up hills proportionate to the pace

Again I'm not out to start a fight I just want to understand why a B16 turns into a 17/18 when it should have been that to begin with. There has to be some truth in advertising or there's no trust."

Anonymous's picture
Carol Waaser (not verified)
Why that happens...


I'm sorry you had a bad experience today. I would have to say that has happened at some point to almost everyone in the club. We rely on volunteer ride leaders who have good days and bad days. (I have the opposite problem from what you faced today - sometimes I list a B-17 and when the day comes, I can barely do a B-16 because of asthma.)

We do advise leaders to stick to the advertised pace, but sometimes that ends up being 1/2 to 1 mph faster than advertised. If, as a leader, I realize I'm going a bit faster than the listed pace (a really good day - no asthma), at the next light or stop sign I will ask if everyone is comfortable with the pace. If not, I'll slow it down.

Thank you for pointing out the problem. This kind of message inevitably gets posted a couple of times a year. It's a good reminder to all the ride leaders. I hope you'll consider leading some rides.

Carol Waaser
President, NYCC

Anonymous's picture
Soon to be former member (not verified)

This is a problem that, in my view, has been getting more pervasive on club rides. My experience is with A rides, so I can't speak for the B and C rides, but it seems that rides are losing their cooperative nature, and becoming hammerfests.

I started out with an A ride just today, and was astonished by how fast they were going, and they hadn't even made it over the bridge yet. (I don't have a speedometer, so can't say exactly what the speed was.) Just because you designate a ride an A-20 doesn't mean that you adhere to the pace from mile zero. Has anyone heard of a warmup?

Anonymous's picture
Michael Steiner (not verified)
Hmm, ....

As there was only one advertised A20 ride today, it must be the one from Mordecai and Sebastian. As far as i can tell, the ride was not faster than advertised. The ride certainly felt tough but that had more to do with a lack of recent training on my side and probably some cold weather effects as well. I can also attest, that both Mordecai and Sebastian were always looking for people in the back and waiting if necessary.

As discussed elsewhere, there is always some discretion in the interpretation of these rules and, e.g., some other rides with similar ratings might feel much slower. However, most ride leaders are consistent, so you can very quickly get a feel on a pace by just looking at the ride leaders. Yes, this might lead first to some ride with some yet unknown leaders where you might get overly challenged or might get a bit bored. However, given the unavoidable imprecision, i think the system is as good as it gets and, at least for me, works quite fine. Also, as already mentioned in this thread, being a ride leader is no easy task and we also should be grateful to all the leaders who volunteer (or put differently, whoever thinks it can be improved can always step forward and volunteer himself; in particular during the colder season there is only limited competition to fend off :-)

In any case, as always I enjoyed Mordecai and Sebastian's ride as they lead through less-travelled (but equally nice) places compared to other NYCC rides.

Anonymous's picture
Mordecai Silver (not verified)
Hi Fendergal!

"Since I was a co-leader on yesterday's A-20 ride, I'll address your complaint.

You ought to have spoken up. You should have said to me, ""I'm not joining your ride, but I'd like a draft to the bridge. I just left home a few minutes ago, and haven't warmed up yet, so could you slow down the group a little?"" The audacity of that request would have appealed to my sense of humor, and I'd have gladly obliged.

Fendergal wrote:
I started out with an A ride just today, and was astonished by how fast they were going, and they hadn't even made it over the bridge yet. (I don't have a speedometer, so can't say exactly what the speed was.) Just because you designate a ride an A-20 doesn't mean that you adhere to the pace from mile zero. Has anyone heard of a warmup?

No, you didn't start out with us. We started at the Boathouse, not at 123rd and Riverside. You only joined us because, as we passed you, you recognized someone in our group, and wanted a draft and some company to the bridge. You didn't plan to ride with us past the bridge.

I felt perfectly comfortable sitting in the paceline on Riverside. I had ridden up from the Lower East Side, so I was already warmed up. I was at the back, saving my energy for later (since the ride had many turns, and one of the two ride leaders had to be near the front most of the time after we got to New Jersey), so I wasn't controlling the speed of the group. If riders were going off the front of the paceline on Riverside, you could have used this as an example of NYCC rides ""losing their co-operative nature."" But nothing of the sort was happening. The fact is, you weren't prepared to go at that speed right then. You weren't warmed up, and maybe you were having an off-day. It happens to the best of us.

Instead of leaving the club, why don't you lead some A-rides yourself, as you used to do? Then you could start wherever you like, and could dictate the pace to suit yourself. But you should definitely stick to co-operative rides, such as the Gimbel's Ride, that don't resemble hammerfests in any way."

Anonymous's picture
Ellen (not verified)

You weren't dreaming.....the pace going out was fast.
If you'd hung in with me a bit longer we would have caught the group waiting at the top of the climb where you bailed.
Jay would certainy have taken it down a notch if he'd known.

Anonymous's picture
April (not verified)
Stand your ground

"""I told Ellen that I was leaving because this was not a B16 and she said Jay would slow down. I left becase I did not like feeing they were doing me a favor. ""

I think your only problen is that ""feeling"" of yours. ;o)

If the ride is advertised as B16, I would have stayed in the ride as long as I'm riding a B16 pace. The group will just have to slow down, because that's the advertised speed.

As mentioned by others, rides (especially A&B) tend to start out like ""bat out of the cave"" between lights. Then they inevitably settle down on a more steady speed once they're out of the city. Had you stayed with the ride, you might found they're perfectly within your capability.

On the other hand, on days when everyone is feeling great, there's no reason why the group together can't go faster than the ""advertised"" speed."

Anonymous's picture
Rich Fernandez (not verified)

"I like this because this is what should keep everyone honest.Riding with other riders that want to push the pace is my favorite complaint,so thats why I train by myself 90% of the time.Time and time again I have broken and re-broken my rule of riding at a certain intensity just to ""stay with the group"",or,this looks like a nice group lets ride with them.After 10 minutes of riding above the intensity you originally planned on doing your workout was wasted then it takes 3 days instead of 14 hours to recover.Yes there is a thin line between 16 and 17mph sustained.For some reason people think that by going fast all the time it will make you faster all the time,I disagree and it has been proven time and time again.Part of being a good rider is:lets say you attend a B-17 ride to Nyack or wherever,a good rider will stay behind the wheel in font of him/her and not go off on state line hill because you feel good all of a sudden only to die on the next hill.If is a B-17 then maintain the INTENSITY.Passing the ride leader or comming up besides him/her only instigates more competition.Same thing when a group stops at a traffic light or something all cyclist should stop behind the wheel in front of them not to the side or dont skip spots.This way it keeps order and everything looking clean.Just my opinion.Rich"

Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)
Look at it this way

If you can ride comfortably solo at 16 mph then you can ride comfortably while drafting at 17 or 18 while on the flats. The rider at the head of the line might be able to ride at 19 all day. Thus a ride listed at a certain pace can accommodate different levels of riders. But to keep the ride together you will have to drop the pace on climbs. A combination of paceline/ drafting skills and a lighter bike can allow you to extend your range. By keeping your time out front of the group to seconds rather than minutes, or just staying in the middle or back of the pack while drafting you can stay inside your ability and not go into the red zone. Just as speed on the flats is determined by air resisitance, speed on ascending is a factor of power and weight. By having a lighter bike you will have an advantage of staying with the group as it climbs. Just how much lighter you might need for any given speed remains a question which you will have to work out yourself. By lighter bike I also mean weight in water, saddle bag, clothes, etc. If you are 200 pounds and you think a lighter bike is going to make a significant difference on hill climbs your current bike better weigh at least 45 pounds.

A paceline is in essence a gestalt phenomenon. It moves faster than any of its members can. However, you don't have to be in a paceline to take advantage of its virtues. You do have to be comfortable drafting. And those around you have to be comfortable with it too.

A group which gains speed gradually from stops, doesn't break up at stops and lights, slows to maintain an even effort on climbs and tries to accommodate members who are less up to the task, can make the difference between a great shared experience and a disappointment.

The NYCC ranges from the occasional rider to the competitive. Sure you are going to have a better day on 2 wheels if you are aerobically fit, weigh in at the lower range of your size group, have trained for power output, have paceline skills and ride a light machine. But you can work around the problem and still have a great day by riding smarter in a group which is rider friendly.

Anonymous's picture
Jay (not verified)
being a ride leader with 15-20 people is not easy

"1. Everytime I checked my speedometer we were going no more than 16-16.9, except for downhills. It is possible that my speedometer is out of synch but everytime I have passed a police speed check which said ""You are Going---mph"", my speedometer was exactly the same as the sign.

2. Ellen was officially designated as sweep. I specifically told her that we would periodically wait at designated places, such as over the bridge, at the Alpine Police Station., etc.for any slower cyclists. We continued to do this for one or two more times until it became apparent that all the group members were keeping up. As it turned out the group functioned in synch, we had no problems with people falling off, once we got over the bridge.

3. I agree with truth in advertising and on one ride someone complained to me about the pace and I did hold it down with the result that half the group jumped off the front never to be seen again. Anyone who has led a ride can say that when you have a ride with 17 or 18 strong riders eager to go (& at this time of the year they have built up their strength) it is difficult to hold them back because of one or two slower riders.

4. I have usually advised cyclists who are borderline between A&B or B&C to go with the slower category just as I usually enjoy B rides although I can sometimesly manage to to keep up with A's."

Anonymous's picture
Claudette (not verified)
ride to the GWB

What I've found is that people are so eager to get over the bridge they ride faster than usual to be done with the Riverside Drive portion of the ride. There is inevitably a headwind and it's bad pavement to boot. Makes it even more uncomfortable if one is new to the route.

Sorry this happened to you. Normally ride leaders (Jay very much included) are pretty receptive to comments from the group. Everyone does his best.

Hope you try another ride and have a better experience.

Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)

This does cut both ways. Not all riders who sign on to a ride are up to the pace. Leaders must weigh helping individuals vs the majority who are up to the task. Leaders are volunteers, they don't need to spend their time micromanaging people who over reach. If you are signing on rides which are on the faster end of the spectrum, do your homework and be prepared. If you are stronger than the stated pace and unwilling to keep that pace, the onus is on you to work it out with the ride leader. Going on a ride because you need leadership does not play out if you are off the front. Better that you download a cue sheet and do your own ride than be a force towards pulling the group dynamics apart.

Some riders might find themselves dropped when they see the ride is going faster than advertised yet there is the possibility that they have entered the wrong wheel diameter in their cycle computer, thus they might think they are riding faster than they assume. One hint of this problem is consistant mileage being off on cue sheets.

Rides which take off too quickly from stops will tend to wear riders down. Picking up speed gradually is the correct posture whether it is a C ride or an A ride.

If you are unsure whether you can keep up with a stated pace, yet are anxious to do a ride and have no hammerhead genes, do a ride which is slower than you know you are capable of.

And now a word for hammerheads. If a group of riders want to break the pace, they should notifiy the ride leader of their intention before they make the break. Larger rides on the A level tend to form into sub groups as the ride progresses. This is a good thing. Large groups are unwieldy. Fine tuning groups to different speeds can satisfy the spectrum of many.

Leaving the club because a few rides are not going the advertised pace is like giving up on voting because politics are not progressing like you wish. You have a lot more options riding with the NYCC. And like Mordecai said, when all else fails, lead a ride and enforce the rules.

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)

Saint Hank hath spoken well.

As a frequent over-reacher on club A rides, I generally go prepared to be dropped. I bring tools, map, cell phone, and alternate plans for bail-outs. And I talk to the ride leader--telling them not to wait for me if I fall off. I can take care of myself, and they're entitled to enjoy the day without worrying about me.

As long as I can keep up with the group, great. Otherwise, I enjoy riding at my own pace and taking in the epic scenery. As Fred Steinberg says, You have to do your own ride.

The 5BBC's point-drop-sweep system is terrific for new cyclists, those not familiar with the area, and for people who want to ride in a cohesive group. It helped me get more seriously into cycling.

The NYCC doesn't use the same system. Volunteer leaders organize routes and provide support, but I don't think they are expected to give the same degree of attention. As experienced cyclists, we have to assume responsibility for ourselves.

Ride leaders have to exercise discretion as to how to manage the unpredictable crowd. Riders need to cooperate as best we can. It's always a group effort. Sometimes we all get dropped. It's not the end of the world.

Anonymous's picture
todd b. (not verified)

claudette, that is so true.

that's one of the many reasons i start my rides in nj.


Anonymous's picture
hal eskenazi (not verified)
ride speed?

Leading a ride can be a complicated process as many issues effect the quality
& experience of the day. Weather, winds, level & attitude of riders, etc. it can be a difficult balancing act of trying to please, sometimes a few, sometimes many.
And yes, we want people to be able count on the “truth in advertising” of the ride so I thought of a couple of suggestions I’ve learned along the way that might help.
Now, I for one have been accused of “speed busting” but of course everyone knows
I would never do such a thing. .
However, “if I did it, here’s how it would have happened”.
As I was giving ride briefing, as I always do before a ride, I would address the following:
there will be a ride leader and a co leader / sweep. If you are in front of the lead, you are off the ride and I will not chase you. If you are behind the co leader then you are probably having a tough time keeping up.
I will indicate the advertised pace and indicate that I expect that anyone on the ride should be
able to ride at that minimum pace, otherwise it takes the fun out of the ride for a lot of riders.
The ride is often dictated by the level & no. of riders present.
We may go a little faster then the advertised posting. The operative words being “a little faster”.
That doesn’t mean 19 on a 16 posted. however, if there is even 1 individual that finds that to be a problem they should say something to the lead or co lead and it will immediately be slowed down to the advertised pace.
I also communicate the ride plan that the co lead and I have discussed concerning stops, regrouping, etc.
Once the ride starts the leader should get a feel for the level & capabilities of the group.
as I said earlier, leading a ride can be a complicated process as many issues effect the quality of the ride
But at the end of the day we’re all here to have fun and enjoy a great day of riding.
and for that we count on ride leaders like jay.
That being said, lynne, don’t judge by one experience and miss a great opportunity for some great riding and friendships. try again.. you’ll be happy you did. maybe even become a ride leader in the future .

Anonymous's picture
tailwind (not verified)

On the few rides I've been on, I felt like I was in a race vs. a club ride. Pace line - there was only a fire line to see who was the fastest. On one ride, no one even noticed that we lost someone due to a flat! Maybe the ride cues should be more specific. A19-but really more like 20-25.

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