Bike Clubs and Ride Classes
Ride classes are not teaching environments. They are really categories or capability levels. In the bike club I currently belong to there are 9 such ride classes: AX, A+, A, B+, B, C+, C, D+, and D. And each ride class has an associated average speed for the bike rides. I have yet to see any rides listed by my club in the AX and A+ catagories. Of course, this makes perfect sense since the club is a social touring club and not a competitive racing club. Although there are some A rides listed, I often question why people in the club ride them since the focus of the club is on riding slow with lots of rest. Some rest is at rest stops while other rest comes when waiting on stragglers. And there usually are stragglers.
For me there really are only two ride classes in my club: serious, and not so serious. The club members who are serious about their riding will participate in the C+, B, and B+ rides. And the not so serious members participate in the D, D+, and C rides. A serious rider who is having an off day might choose to participate in a C+ ride. And when they want some speed work and to challenge themselves, then they might attend a B+ ride. But I think it is a mistake to classify yourself according to ride category. Once a B rider always a B rider. Or once a C+ rider always a C+ rider. No, this way of doing things is not good.
In my club the average pace of a B ride is supposed to be 15 to 16 mph. I find it hard to believe that in early season rides that pace is maintained on the B rides, and I say this when thinking about rides that are almost perfectly flat in nature. A hilly B ride in my club rarely maintains a 15 to 16 mph average pace even at the peak of the cycling season. Having said this, I think it is absurd that average ride paces are attached to the definitions of ride classes. Of course, the funniest quote out of my club’s monthly publication is a Ride Guideline that says: “Leaders WILL ADHERE to the advertised speed of the ride [and if he/she fails to do so] … may have leader privileges suspended.”