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Group Rides

Currently, I live in East Dallas in an urban area. To get anywhere on bike requires navigating city streets with moderate to heavy traffic. This morning a friend (we’ll call him Joe) and I were talking about a group ride dilemma he’s facing. Joe, who is himself an experienced cyclist, has been asked to plan safe ride routes for A (experienced) B (intermediate) and C (novice) level groups from an urban starting point, Mockingbird and Central Expressway.

Mockingbird and Central Exprwy, close to where many of my friends live.

Joe wants to find a route that avoids traffic but, as you can see, where we live that’s not possible. My advice: Hold urban cycling workshops and make attendance a prerequisite for ride participation, preferably for all riders but, in the very least, for the novice cyclists. Rather than trying to avoid traffic, I think a better solution is to learn how to ride safely IN traffic.

Joe may be on the fence about offering urban cycling classes but, fortunately, there are several organizations in the Dallas area that do hold skills workshops and traffic safety classes, many of which have on-the-bike lessons. Below are links to the groups I know about. If I missed someone, let me know!

Cycling Savvy – An excellent program, originated in Florida, now being offered here in Dallas by friend and all-round great guy, Waco Moore. You can find out more about the DFW Cycling Savvy program by visiting them on Facebook and on the Cycling Savvy website.

Cycling Center Dallas: SMART Cycling Classes – Learn how to ride with confidence and competence in an urban environment. Develop basic skills and hazard avoidance maneuvers in a safe, friendly environment. For the current class schedule visit the Cycling Center Dallas website.

Bike DFW Traffic Skills 101 – Techniques and skills for riding in North Texas’ cities including: riding on multi-use trails, riding in bike lanes, and techniques for negotiating city traffic safely and comfortably. For a course schedule send an email to education@bikedfw.org or check their website.

There’s a lot of good urban cycling advice online, but there’s also a lot of bad, potentially dangerous, and just plain wrong information out there too. Use your common sense. Think of your bike as a vehicle; navigate intersections and traffic using the same principals as you would were you in a car. Don’t just ride your bike, drive it.

Here are a few trustworthy sources for information on safe cycling:

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I love group rides. They’re a great way to meet new friends, learn more about cycling, develop bike handling skills, push yourself to work harder, and to just have fun. This is by no means comprehensive listing, just a few of the groups that ride the roads around Dallas and White Rock Lake. If you’re interested in finding a group to ride with, these clubs are a good place to start.

Mirage Cycling Club is a great group, with recreational and competitive cyclists on all levels, from beginners to seasoned roadies. You can find more information on The Mirage Cycling Club website. Mirage riders are very nice, very social and they do a good job of taking care of one another out on the road. You’re in good hands when you ride with these guys. They have several weekly rides that depart from the Bike Mart on Garland Road, check their website for details. The Sunday 8:30 ride is a good place to start.
If you live north (or don’t mind driving to Plano for rides) then I would also highly recommend Plano Bicycling Association. They’re a fun bunch. PBA as a club does a great job of structuring rides in a way that allows for rider development. It’s a wonderful club! Visit the PBA website for details on the group rides. PBA is primarily a recreational club, aspiring racers can find  like-minded teammates in PACC, the Plano Athletic Cycling Club. More info is available on the PACC website.
Easter Hill Country Weekend recreational rides with friends.

Members of Mirage and PACC riding together at a 3-day rally in Fredericksburg, TX.

Bicycles Plus in Snider Plaza has a club with both recreational and competitive riders. They have group rides but the schedule varies slightly in accordance with Day Light Savings Time so look online for the current schedule. Their website is here, check the Park Cities location for group rides in the White Rock Lake area.
Another Dallas group geared toward recreational riders is the Greater Dallas Bicyclists. They offer a lot of group rides throughout the Metroplex, many of which are well-suited for novice riders. Check them out online for a current schedule and ride reports. Their rides range from nice and easy to screaming fast so there’s something for everyone. The Tuesday/Thursday night rides are really fun and the pace is fairly tame.
There are a ton of great organized rides on the North Texas rally calendar. Rallies are organized rides that offer support and rest stops along routes of various distances. Riders pay a small registration fee which the organizers generally donate to charity. Rallies are a good way to do something good for your health and the community at the same time. Cyclists of all levels and abilities attend rallies so you’re sure to find a good paced group to hang with as you ride. A good site for information on the rally scene is on the  Bicycle Stuff website.
Be safe and have fun out on the road! In my next post I’ll include links to local bicycle safety resources, including some skills and safety classes that will help you ride with confidence.
Full links to the websites referenced above:
Mirage Cycling Club – http://www.miragecycling.org/
Plano Bicycle Association – http://www.planobicycle.org/
Plano Athletic Cycling Club – http://www.teampacc.com/
Greater Dallas Bicyclists – http://www.greaterdallasbicyclists.com/