I'm worried I'll hold you up is something I hear regularly. It's almost a mantra. It may sometimes be an excuse, a reason not to come for a mountain bike ride. But I think that often it is a genuine concern.
So why are people so anxious about holding others up? While I have heard stories of cycle clubs that drop people who can't keep up, most mountain bikers I know are pretty chilled about waiting for people to catch up and keen to encourage others to take up the sport we love. After all we were all a beginner once. We've all been the one who arrives panting up to the group.
Having said that, it is important to make sure that you're in going out with the right group. Desperately trying to keep up with a group that is too fit, too fast and riding on terrain too technical for your skill level is probably one of the best ways to put you off cycling for life. So what to do?
As with most problems the key to finding the right ride is to ask the right questions. What sort of ride is it? How many miles? What kind of average speed? How technical? How steep? How much standing around chatting? Are you happy to wait? And just because one ride someone does is not suitable, it doesn't mean that another isn't.
If I'm training or trying to get fit, I'd rather go out alone or with someone who will challenge me to push harder. But that doesn't mean that I don't enjoy a bimble through the lanes with friends, chatting all the way, and stopping for coffee and cake half way round or a blast with the boys that pushes my technical skills to the limit. If everyone's up front about what the aim of the ride is at the start there shouldn't be any problems.
That's why I've just put some put together some skills and fitness levels for our group rides and weekends. I hope that they will help you to choose a ride that is right for you, whether you want to be pushed or prefer to take it easy. I'd love to know if you find them helpful, so please let me know what you think. And please be assured that we never drop people from our group rides!