The A group is a composite group of riders totaling about 30. Some are part of the SFA Racing team while others aspire to make the team and some just enjoy a hard ride. The average speed is quite a misrepresentation as the ride will tend towards the pace of the majority. On a flatter ride many will find the pace fairly easy if they shelter in the bunch, those with a bit more in their legs can sit on the front all morning! If we hit the hillier routes west of Marden then we all come back with a grin on our faces (or grim-ace!) and aching legs and the average speed might not seem that high!
We have asked on a regular basis what the riders want from the ride and quite correctly the Saturday ride is not a 'training ride' but the emphasis has shifted as many riders need to fit in a decent longer ride at the weekend and ask that the A ride fulfills that.
Also time pressures mean that we moved over a year ago to a 9am start time reverting to 10 am for December, January and February with the concern over risk of more icy conditions earlier. We like to be quite strict at getting back for 1pm so riders can plan their day and any excuses needed!
Last winter we looked to improve our group rides by working as a cohesive outfit with the majority of the ride ridden as a structured 'through and off' with two parallel lines and the pace maintained as evenly as possible so we achieved a good endurance ride with less surges in pace keeping the HR much lower.
Coffee/ breakfast stops are a well discussed point but in the winter period it was generally considered less than ideal to cool down for 30-45 mins at a break then start off again, so we planned routes with a 'shop' stop in a village with a shop/bakery to get any fuel needed and just 5 mins down time.
We would like to see more riders coming through from the other groups. This natural progression is something few clubs can offer as they do not have the size to allow 3 or 4 groups of increasing speed. Some are apprehensive but all are looked after, and some have 'grown' into the group really quickly and made their mark in the racing team within a season.
There are some very able riders in the A group to give unlimited advice on training and preparation whilst out on the ride. We are really fortunate to have riders of the caliber of Geoff Wiles and Dick Naylor who whilst being vets are at the top of the sport in their age groups in the country and bring much knowledge to the group.
We are open to suggestions on how to improve the group for all involved and we arrange the leaders on an adhoc basis depending on who is out, and often responding to weather and conditions and desire on which way we head.
We would like to encourage the group to aim for distances of 65 miles plus over the winter when we start at 9am, so we are building on our endurance. Some riders due to commitments need to 'peel off' early, so let us know and we can often schedule the ride in a certain direction to help!
In summary we would like to see more riders from the club move up to the A group as it suggests that the rides offered are improving the members fitness, speed and abilities. We have had two recent notable additions both of whom loved the slightly faster pace. So email me, leave a post on the forum or give me a call and we look forward to seeing some new riders in the next few months. No one will be left behind even if it means pushing you round!