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I've ridden on three or four occasions with one other person and then only for a just a few miles. That's it. The bulk of my riding is simply commuting although I will occasionally do a weekend ride for exercise.  I like the solitude in my escapism and the accomplishment of the commute. 

I have been thinking about trying group rides but I'm afraid the slow riders will be too slow and the fast riders too fast. Do people converse while group riding? For me, I'm a bit loquacious ["no, Irvin, not you!"]. Yes, yes, it's true.

What do you folks who do these things like "bike clubs" and "centuries" find as the positives and the negatives?

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The best place to start IMO is the Performance Bike Great Rides Series. Lincoln Park's might be done for the season but they take it slow. Their pace is between 10-14 mph and it's always "no-drop," meaning the group stays together at all costs and is as slow as it's slowest rider.

Group riding is great. I find I ride MUCH better in a group. If you are having trouble keeping up you can also ride in the wind of others. I also find it much safer as you are more visible to traffic and can help each other out by calling out pot holes and passing cars.

Once you get your speed up you should ride with one of the local clubs. Some do "no-drop" for a portion of their ride. Nevertheless you can expect that no-drop portion to be anywhere from 18-25 mph. As a xXx member I have to shamelessly plug our ride which I highly recommend: http://www.xxxracing.org/index.php?/pages/ride/

Thanks. The only way I'm doing 25 is down hill. On a steep downhill I've hit 30 but that is uncomfortably fast on my twitchy aluminum Scott SC30. My cruising speed on that bike is about 20 depending on wind, road conditions and grade.

I went on this (the xXx) ride last Saturday, and it was loads of fun. Great group of people.  Thanks for plugging it!

Glad you came out! It really is a great ride. I look forward to spring when I go much more often.

They do indeed. I personally am a wimp when it comes to the cold so I tend to stay inside on the trainer this time of year.

Thanks!  I deleted the message you were replying to before I saw you replied because I see that winter hours are posted on the website. 

If you gear up for the cold weather, I find the emotion rewards are well worth the extra dough.

You have to be able to look in the mirror and accurately assess the guy you see. What speed does he like and how  does that compare to what he thinks he does? Once you  know that find a group that rides a similar pace.  Evanston Bike Club has a lot of different groups. Some are way fast and others are way slow. Find a pace you like and see how it goes. In general the faster groups will be more business and the slower groups will be more social.  In general group  rides will have a destination and an eating  stop. If that is not your thing you can ride with the group  and return on your  own.  The biggest benefits are you  will find new routes, have a helping hand when something hits the fan and decimates your chain, meet new riders. You will like some of them and others...not  so much. EBC is usually pretty tolerant of a wide range of eccentricities so it you would have to work had to make yourself a pariah.  This time of year the range of rides will narrow and faster riders and slower riders will have to find some  common ground. 

Thanks, Dave! Excellent input!

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