Please read everything below BEFORE going on a ride with GravelNY. By going on one of our rides you agree to follow these guidelines. While we try to be inclusive and supportive, we will “drop” riders who don’t follow our guidelines. It’s important that everyone be “on the same page” for the ride to be enjoyable.
Gravel is deceiving… It seems so safe, you let down your guard, and then you hit a rock and crash… Crashes are actually MORE likely on gravel. (They’re just a lot less likely to kill you.)
- Our rides are at your own risk. You are solely responsible for your actions and your safety while riding. We cannot guarantee the condition or safety of roads and trails. Nor can we control the behavior of other riders.
- If a serious medical emergency happens while on a ride. Call 911 before doing anything else. Never leave a wounded rider. Stay with them until they’re safe and under medical care.
- Do not do something you feel is unsafe just because the rider(s) in front of you did it.
- Never ride closely behind someone else on gravel. Always leave enough space between you and the person ahead of you that you can see possible hazards.
- When possible, point to or call out obstacles that could cause a flat or a crash so riders behind you can avoid them.
- Control your speed on down hills, especially on dirt and gravel roads. There may be deep holes, ruts, washboard, downed trees, or unexpected obstacles that suddenly appear. Also, rain can wash sand and gravel downhill, causing deep sections at the bottom that can be quite dangerous.
- Be predictable to cars – use hand signals for turns, ride on the correct side of the road, etc.
- Do not be overly polite with cars. Take as much of the lane as you need to stay safe. Riding on the edge of a narrow roadway encourages drivers to pass too close. Taking more of the lane forces them to use the other lane and only pass when there’s sufficient room to do so.
- Dirt and gravel roads are constantly changing. A smooth surface today might become dangerous and impassible tomorrow, particularly after a major storm.
- We recommend that you follow traffic laws. At a minimum riders must follow “Idaho Rolling Stops”. (Treat stop signs like yield signs, and red lights like stop signs – doing so reduces your chance of accidents by ~14%.)
- Always wear a helmet.
- High visibility clothing and flashing lights front and back are recommended so vehicles and pedestrians can be aware of your approach. (Flashing lights in the daytime reduce your chance of accidents.)
- Do not use earbuds while riding except perhaps a single earbud that is only used for navigation instructions and does not block ambient sound.
- If you encounter someone on a horse, come to a full stop and let the horse rider tell you when it’s safe to proceed. A spooked horse is dangerous for the rider and nearby cyclists.
- Wooden surfaces (e.g. on bridges) are extremely slippery when wet or damp. Any type of turning, etc. can result in a crash.
- Let others know where you are riding and when you plan to check-in or get back home.
While people in our group won’t intentionally leave you stranded out in the middle of nowhere, you should be capable of navigating routes on your own in case you get separated from the group you’re riding with.
- Have some sort of navigation on the handlebars in front of you. That can be a Wahoo or Garmin device, or a phone running Ride With GPS app.
- If you’re using Ride With GPS make sure you download the route and use it in offline mode since many of our rides go to areas with spotty or no cell phone signal. If you don’t run RWGPS in offline mode, even if you do have a signal the whole time, it’s likely that the app will completely drain your battery before the end of the ride. Offline mode is only available if you have have a paid version of RWGPS (currently $6+/month).
- Know how to bring up routes on your navigation device when you’re out on a ride.
- Have a plan for what you’ll do if you your primary form of navigation fails. (e.g. a backup battery and charging cable are always a good idea.)
- Review the route before the ride and know where you can stop for things like food and fluids.
- These are social rides and we are not racing.
- That said, know your “speed” and make sure you’re capable of comfortably maintaining the stated pace of a ride before RSVPing. If in doubt, choose the slower of two pace groups (if available). We don’t want to drop you, but we also don’t want to have to constantly stop to wait for riders who are far behind the pace.
- Never try to keep up with a faster and/or more experienced rider on downhills or technical terrain. Crashes are most likely when your speed exceeds your comfort level and/or skill level. There are no awards for reckless riding other than a potential trip to the hospital.
- When in doubt, slow down. Don’t worry, we will regroup periodically, so you will catch up to the group again – assuming you are reasonably within the expected speed for the ride.
- Ride descriptions will typically state a pace for the ride that’s consistent with NYCC’s Central/Prospect Park self test tables. If you haven’t done the NYCC self test, take the speed Strava says is your average speed on a typical long ride and add 2 or 3 mph. (Note: This should be your speed for solo rides, not when riding in the draft of a group.)
- Do not draft the rider in front of you on paved roads unless you have good paceline skills and know the other rider is OK with you drafting them. Pacelining is infrequent on our rides. It is typically among faster-paced and more experienced riders, and only for short distances on paved roads.
- Please don’t paceline on dirt/gravel (it is not worth the risk).
- Act like you are a “brand ambassador” for gravel cycling when interacting with pedestrians. Say “on your left/right” cheerfully, or say “excuse me”, “thank you”, “sorry” when appropriate.
- Please follow any posted notices about bicycle riding and/or trespassing and be prepared to alter your route if needed. Rules about where you can ride a bike may change without notice.
- When in doubt, ride single file except when passing. Many localities in the NY area have laws prohibiting side-by-side riding on roadways even though state law allows you to take the entire lane when needed for safety and there may be space for someone to ride next to you.
- Have basic tools needed for fixing a flat and other common problems, and practice using them before you need them.
- Make sure your equipment is ready for the ride. Do an “ABC Check” (Air, Brakes & Chain and everything the chain touches) before each ride.
- Make sure your tires are appropriate for the surface conditions of the particular ride. There are many forms of “gravel” some can be done on “skinny” tires, others require fairly wide tires. The ride descriptions will usually state what width of tires are recommended for the ride. But in general:
- Cinder trails like those in Tallman Mountain State Park can be done on standard, skinny, 25mm road bike tires.
- 35-51mm tires are recommended for dirt trails like the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail, though strong riders do fine on 28mm tires.
- 38-53mm tires are recommended for dirt roads like those around Cold Spring, though strong riders may be fine on 32mm tires.
- Bring lots of fluids and snacks – gravel routes often go where there are no businesses, so few chances to stop and buy something.
If you have a mechanical problem with your bike during the ride that can’t be fixed the group will continue on after you’ve called for assistance (e.g. uber, taxi, ride from a friend).
GrNY is an informal club for gravel riding in the New York metro area. Rides involve dirt and paved surfaces, since it is difficult to string together continuous unpaved routes in our area. The basic idea is to get away from cars and seek gravel where we can find it.
Join us for rides that emphasize:
- Fun exploration
- Non-competitive atmosphere
- No dress code (whether lycra, MTB baggies, or flannel)
- Pacelining on dirt roads is strongly discouraged.
- Some members enjoy challenging rides, but the goal is the experience, not speed/stats.
If you’d like to join the Strava group, where you can RSVP for rides…
First click “join group” on Strava. We want to include people who might actually join rides. That’s why we will check that you:
1) live in the broader NYC Metro area (e.g. NY, NJ, CT), and
2) are capable of riding the distance of our shortest rides (35+ miles of hilly terrain).
If your Strava profile says you’re in London, or Paris, Des Moines or wherever – you won’t be approved for membership. And we also won’t approve you for membership if, when look at the stats on your profile, we see that all the rides you’ve logged to Strava are short rides. Almost all GrNY rides are more than 35 miles and typically on hilly terrain, so you should be used to regularly riding at similar distances and elevation gradients. That said, privacy is an issue and some people have their profiles locked down. Others have never used Strava before. That’s okay.
If your Strava profile doesn’t reflect your location or riding ability, click “join group” then send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to your Strava profile or your profile name. If you don’t hear back from that address, you are welcome to email Steve at email@example.com. He can also approve your membership to the Strava group.
Once you’re a club member communication via Strava is an issue. Strava has a policy of gradually muting clubs as they grow in size. To get around that problem we’ve created an email mailing list.
To get on the mailing list visit https://grny.org/email-list/ and follow the instructions on the page. We try to keep emails to a minimum. And please realize you have to confirm your email address to be fully signed up – some people miss that step. Check your spam folder if you don’t see the confirmation email within a few minutes.
Finally, if you want to get a sense for the rides we do, we’ve put “ride reports” on our website (https://GrNY.org) for many of our rides.