Occasionally, we at STCC like to remind cyclists to take a breath, relax and just enjoy a long ride with friends. Often individuals or groups do things on the bike that may sound fun, but in the end are dangerous to both the cyclist and those around them. One of the things that is frequently brought to our attention is the behavior of some cyclists in events known as Bicycle Rally's.
What is a Bicycle Rally? For those of you that aren't aware, a bicycle rally is an event for cyclists, generally hosted as a fundraiser by a local community or organization. Bicycle Rally's usually offer routes from 10-65 miles (some offer longer distances), at your pace. Most all rallys provide rest stops every 10-12 miles, offering drinks and snacks to keep the riders moving. These events are not only a great way to raise funds for a good cause, but also are an encouragement to cyclists of all skill levels to get out, enjoy the countryside and meet new people. In North Texas, there is a Rally available almost every weekend from the first of February to the end of October. we encourage you to check our club rally calendar as well as others like bicycle-stuff.com.
Now to the focus of our update. What is a Bicycle Rally NOT? Rally's are NOT a race. Rally's are NOT a race. Rally's are NOT a race! If only I had my ruby slippers, so I could take you to that land where everyone could see how true this is. It seems that every year there are groups of cyclists that either informally agree to race with another club or attempt to use the rally as a race training ride - please avoid getting involved with these groups as their actions put everyone on the ride at risk. Rally's are for fun and, yes, everyone likes to go fast. Remember these points before you choose to ride with a group that puts everyone around them in unnecessary danger.
o Rally's are not a race, these are social rides intended provide a fun venue to raise money for a good cause.
o Rally's, much like the STCC Thursday rides, have a large number of people doing varied distances on the same roads. This requires thought and cooperation from everyone to ensure a safe ride. Cooperate.
o Routes on Rally's are on open roads. Even cyclists that are not a part of the rally may end up in your group. The roads are not closed and you cannot prevent some random cyclist out for their morning ride from joining you, so take extreme care. The roads shared with all.
o As a general rule, given these rides are not races, ALL routes wrap around on top of one another towards the end of the ride. This means that higher paced cyclists from the longer routes will likely encounter many single cyclists and families in the last ten miles or so that are, at best, novice level.
o A startled cyclist can lead to disaster. Do not expect the less experienced cyclists, regardless of the pace, to understand any of the commands we commonly hear on our group rides ("on your left", "passing", "single up"). Some are not familiar with the safe habits and rules we've applied to our group rides. These cyclists may be in their first environment with large numbers of bicycles - it may even be their first time on the road. If you are coming up behind them, slow down and match their pace, announce yourself, pass only on the left. If they don't move give them a wide berth - as the one behind you are the ONLY one in the situation tbein an see what is going on and has control over what happens next.
With no statistics to back it up, it seems that over the last few years, the groups looking at these rides as a chance to show how good their race team and skills are, have gotten more prevalent and have been involved in numerous accidents, particularly at the end of the ride when mixing in with slower, less experienced cyclists - all to get a KOM on Strava.
Be smart and don't ruin anyone's day. If you see individuals or groups involved in this type behavior, note what jersey they're wearing and let us know. If safe to do so, take a picture. We'll chase it down for you with the Rally organizers.
Watch out for yourself and fellow cyclists, be safe and for heavens sake "Just Ride Your Bike!".