Looking to improve your fitness and skills? Consider this your final excuse to join the next group ride.
As an endurance coach with a wellness influence, I talk a lot about evaluating our motivations and often encourage athletes to reflect on whether or not the reasons we are doing something serve our better selves. Exploring this can be quite the journey on its own and can result in lots of personal research into why we want the things we want. The (hopeful) desired outcome is that we start to identify with of a set of motivators that we feel personally connected to, ones that specifically touch us on the inside and stoke our inner fire.
Additionally, you may notice that I’ve said this before, and I will say it again, I don’t believe that people do things for just one reason. People simply won’t act on one single urge, but rather tend to be moved to action through several reasons. This set of reasons is referred to collectively as our “why”.
Furthermore, there is something else I’ve uncovered through my reading and personal research, which I find interesting, although somewhat separate from the above thoughts.
There is an undeniable phenomenon amongst people in a group:
The mere presence of others correlates with an improvement in performance, and is irrespective of personal feelings about ourselves or towards other people.
So, to state this another way, even if we don’t necessarily believe ourselves to be competitive or believe that we have what is typically described as an “alpha” personality, we still push ourselves in the presence of others due to some innate driver we are born with. We call this social facilitation.
In conclusion, if you’re looking to improve yourself and your overall fitness or skills on your bike, look no further; seek to leverage these natural instincts by joining as many group rides (or events) as you can.
After all, human psychology is truly fascinating. How serendipitous that we can utilize our own instincts to allow us to reach our personal goals!
Such behavior was first noticed by Triplett (1898) while observing cyclists who were racing together versus cyclists who were racing alone.  It was found that the mere presence of other cyclists produced greater performance. A similar effect was observed by Chen (1937) in ants building colonies.  However, it was not until Zajonc investigated this behavior in the 1960s that any empirical explanation for the audience effect was pursued.
1. McLeod, Saul (2011). "Social Facilitation". Simply Psychology.
2. Chen, Shisan C. (1937). "Social Modification of the Activity of Ants in Nest-Building". Physiological Zoology. 10 (4): 420–436. doi:10.1086/physzool.10.4.30151428. JSTOR 30151428.
3. Hamilton, A. F.; Lind, F. (2016). "Audience effects: What can they tell us about social neuroscience, theory of mind and autism?". Culture and Brain. 4 (2): 159–177. doi:10.1007/s40167-016-0044-5. PMC 5095155. PMID 27867833.
Talitha Vogt is a certified endurance and behavior change coach with an elite racing background. She has 22 years of experience as a mountain biker, including 13 total years of racing and other endurance events including Xterra triathlons, innumerable cyclocross races, a little dabbling in road racing, and even some trail running. She provides custom-tailored, accommodating coaching locally in the front range of Colorado and online internationally.