We’ve all been there. Fear of the unknown. Fear of looking silly. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of not knowing anyone.

Have you been curious about joining a bike group – or any other type of group – but felt just a bit intimidated? If this is the case, you are not alone. Having been a member of a few different bike groups, and a meetup hiking group, I feel your pain.

It’s scary to imagine meeting a group of strangers for a ride or event you may be nervous about. I’m here to tell you it’s not as frightening as you think. Many people I’ve talked to have shared the same anxiety. Generally, after joining a group, the only regret people have is that they didn’t do it sooner.

For many, these groups have been life-changing. Since people in the groups have the same interest as you, you’ll most likely find instant connections.

Below are some of the common myths that exist out there. I’m basing them on my own experiences with biking and hiking groups, but they may also be common in other types of groups.

Myth # 1 – I’m Not Good Enough

“I’ll hold everyone up.” “I’ll be last.” “I’m slower than everyone.” Even if these are true, there’s nothing to worry about. Having been in various positions, from first to last, I’m here to tell you – no one cares, and I mean that with kindness.

In the groups I’ve been in, there have been all different levels – from super fit to those new at the sport. Each person works at their own level. We’ve agreed on meeting stops where we hang out and wait for each other. These stops are times to reconnect and chat – and visit restrooms.

At times, I have been first in the group – my least-preferred position – middle, and also last. The first time I was dead last I do admit I thought I was holding everyone up until I learned the important lesson… no one cares.

Now, sometimes I even enjoy the solitude of being last, yet knowing I’m safe with the group. I find being first tedious as I tend to push too hard for fear of holding others up. Again, I shouldn’t worry because everyone does their own thing.

If you really feel uncomfortable and think you may be too slow and hold up the group, you might tell the leader ahead of time that you’ll catch up with them at a specific location. However, chances are very slim that will happen. People really don’t mind waiting.

That being said, if you try a group ride and don’t feel this is the case, I suggest finding a group that better fits your abilities. If for example, you’re retired, you may have different fitness levels and goals than a group that meets after work.

Myth #2 – It’ll Be Strange and Uncomfortable to Be There Alone

Not to fret. Most riders (and hikers) come alone. Luckily, riding (and hiking) is one of those sports you do alone and feel comfortable. If you’re in the right group, they’ll make you feel welcome immediately.

Again, if this doesn’t happen – find another group. You may find, however, that each week brings a few new people. Give it time. Most groups have people that don’t make it every ride – or even people that only live in the area part-time (like snowbirders).

Myth # 3 – I’ll Have to Make a Huge Time Commitment

Most biking (and hiking) groups are completely flexible. People are busy and have commitments. You can come as often or as rare as you like. If you let your leader know, you don’t even have to complete your first ride. Just tell the leader ahead of time you may turn back so they don’t wait for you.

You may want to get into this slowly and only go part of the way. Generally, group events are quite casual, and you may skip as many meets as you like.

Myth #4 – I’ll Have to Be too Social

Generally, when you join a group you want to be social and talk to people and go to lunches and meetings. But sometimes you may not be in the mood. Perhaps you want to hike quietly but feel more comfortable in a group.

With the right group, this should not be a problem. Chances are, if you find the right group you’ll find a few people who have the same preferences.

Most likely, you’ll want to participate in the social events. You’ll make wonderful connections with new people. However, we all have busy lives at times, and sometimes just want to get a ride in and skip the social aspect. The good thing is – no one cares.

Myth # 5 – It’ll Be too Expensive

Great news – group rides are free! Most don’t charge anything. If your group uses a platform like Meetup, they may charge a very low annual fee to cover some of the costs.

Any group I’ve joined thus far has been free of charge. If you decide to participate in the social events, (e.g., lunch) you can keep it simple and even just order a coffee or drink and chat with the group.

I hope you’ll be inspired to join a group event – they are a lot of fun. You may feel slightly uncomfortable at first, but you’ll quickly get over it. If the group you’ve met doesn’t feel right for you, just keep on looking. Or, you can start your own!

That being said, as with any group of unknown people, you want to exercise caution. Groups meet in public locations and you can easily see how long the group has been in existence and can evaluate the other members.

You can look online for bike groups in your area. Check with your local bike shop or your senior or recreation center.

Here are some general bike safety tips for riding on public trails.

Have you ever tried a group ride or event? How was it? If you haven’t tried a group event, what’s keeping you back? Please share your group experiences biking or hiking and tell us what you like the most about your group.

Karen MatthewsKaren Matthews has been a recreational bike rider for over 30 years and recently switched to a recumbent trike. She shares her biking experiences and tips on her blog, Bat On Wheels. To see her recumbent trike and how to ride one, check out her YouTube channel.

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