Cycling with other folks is often a rewarding experience. Learning the skills of riding in a pack can result in thrillingly fast rides, racing tactics, breakaways and... a long ride home by yourself.
The most common type of riding group is the racing club. These folks are dedicated to racing. To improving their performance. It is a take-no-prisoners testing of each other and pushing each other to higher levels of performance. They will often respect a new comer who keeps coming back after getting dropped from weeks of rides, eventually taking you under their wing and even waiting for you at the top of the hill.
But for many new comers, riding with a racing group can be a big mistake. Group riding is much more varied than just racing these days. There is nothing wrong with riding at a relaxed pace, looking at the scenery and stopping to see the deer cross the road in front of you. If you know what kind of riding you like, then seek out a group that matches your choice. If you decide to try and ride with a racing group, don't take it personally if you get dropped and certainly don't let it turn you sour toward cycling. If you really do like racing, then hang in there and as you get stronger and are able to hang on longer you will gain acceptance and the group will probably start to pull you in. But it may take awhile.
On the other hand, if racing is not your bag, don't give up on group riding. There are many options these days for vintage rides, long-distance randonneuring, relaxed riding groups who hold "no-drop" rides. If you are a new woman rider, think about seeking out a woman's group for your first rides where there is less testosterone driving a competitive pressure, even on the so called no-drop rides.
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