‘Never give up, try your best and you will be the best’
Introduction to the weekend rides
If you are thinking about taking up cycling or are picking up the sport again then come along and pick a ride to suit you. There is a no drop policy on all our rides. We want your experience with us to be as enjoyable and as safe as possible so all of our rides have a ride leader and you are sure to get plenty of encouragement from the rest of the group too. Please note that a crash hat is obligatory.
If you want more information on what to expect on your first ride, how to prepare, details of the routes and advice and re-assurance on riding in a group please see the relevant sections below.
See below for details of latest rides
There are so many advantages to riding in a group that after you have experienced it a few times you do wonder why you ever worried about it in the first place.
As well as the social aspect of chatting to your friends as you ride, the group ride is great for motivation and improving fitness. Rides are organised, you obtain tips and advice as you go and you get plenty of support if you get a puncture. If that wasn’t enough, because you save energy in the slipstream, you can go that much further & faster. When you are ready you can take your turn on the front &, get even fitter before tucking in behind and getting taken home.
So how do you do this safely and feel more confident? Well, there are some simple rules to follow; set out below:
- Pick a group that suits your fitness level, we offer Saturday Social rides for beginners and various other rides too.
- Ride leaders help to control the group and make for a safer ride. Generally we have two ride leaders on our Social Ride and one ride leader on the other rides.
- Your first responsibility is to stick to the rules of the road. Ride leaders can offer you advice and direction but you must still take responsibility for your own cycling so primarily stick to the rules of the road.
- Following the wheel. You do need to concentrate here, look at the pedal speed of the rider in front and use similar gears. Don’t get too close to the rider in front especially on an uphill section if they get out of the saddle this pushes their rear wheel back. A good tip here is to ride slightly to the right of the rider in front without overlapping wheels within about a foot of their rear wheel.
- Look at how more experienced riders cope.
- Try to ride on the hoods or the drops to cover your brakes at all times. This way you can respond to braking ahead of you.
- On quieter country roads the normal pattern for riding is two abreast handlebar to handlebar. If you find this difficult at first let the other riders know so they can accommodate and look after you. Make sure when riding two abreast that you do not ride too far to the right of the rider in front as you will push the person behind you too far to the right and across the road. To be considerate to other road users on busier sections and when a car wishes to pass, the group will ride single line. You will typically hear a call of ‘car behind’ or ‘single out’. Follow the instruction you do not need to look back yourself as you need to learn to trust other riders in the group. Do not apply your brakes as this causes disruption in the group. Let the riders in front gently accelerate to make pace to single out.
Typical calls you will hear are:
‘Hole’ Upcoming pothole to avoid. Should be accompanied by hand signal to enable you to avoid it in time.
‘Slowing’ accompanied by a hand signal. Slow down to avoid hazard
‘Wait’ At junctions to indicate cars are coming
‘Clear’ To indicate a junction is clear, but always take responsibility and look yourself.
‘Single Out’ Get into single file
- Safe group riding is all about riding smoothly and avoiding sudden movements. Group riding really is safe, but the most common causes of collisions between cyclists is someone stopping suddenly in front of you. There are two ways of reducing the risk of this, the first is that from your position just to the right of the rider in front you need to scan the road ahead of you so you can anticipate and the second is to listen and look out for standard instructions which are listed below.
- This may sound a bit flippant but the best two pieces of advice I ever received was to keep pedalling (you’d be surprised) and take a drink at the top of a hill when you are travelling less quickly for stability. If you stop pedalling the riders behind you will have to brake.
- To warn of hazards and changes in road conditions you will see hand signals and hear shouts. The shouts are somewhat restricted as they can be miss-interpreted. The two basic shouts are ‘car up’ and ‘car down’ to warn you about other road users. The hand signals are listed below. Keep your eyes and ears open as these signals significantly reduce the risk of an accident.
- If you are dropping off the back of the group, communicate this to the riders around you, the ride leader can then slow down.
- When slowing down do not brake suddenly unless you really have to, it may be sufficient to slow and then stop pedalling. This gives other riders the chance to react.
- If you are feeling tired let people know, do not suffer in silence. Accidents are more likely when people get tired and lose concentration, this will enable the ride leader to slow the pace or stop to let you have a breather.
You may have seen advice on riding in a chain, which is really a technique for chasing down a breakaway so we don’t really need to worry about that yet. If you have any questions please let your ride leader know on the day.
Introduction It’s a pretty rare event but, sometimes participants do get dropped off the back of the group on our social rides and lose sight of the other riders. The nature of these rides is that they can become quite lively at times, especially on hill climbs and as we near the tea break. So please don’t panic if you get momentarily detached, follow the guidelines below and you will soon be back with the group.
The guidelines The ride leader will let you know the general geography of the ride and the location and name of the café stop
If you do get dropped on a climb the group will reform at the top of that hill to wait for you. If you get dropped on the flat the group will be waiting for you at the next turning. So keep going and don’t panic.
If you have a puncture or other mechanical let someone know around you as the group will wait and you will be given help to get going again.
The ride leaders will make their mobile phone number available to everyone at the start, so if you get really lost or have a mechanical and nobody has noticed, give the ride leader a call so they can come and get you to re-join the rest of the group.
Familiarise yourself with the general geography of the route as posted on the Crawley Wheelers website, there is a remote chance that you will have to find your own way home if you get lost.
We want your experience with us to be both enjoyable and safe. If you do a bit of preparation before you come out with us we know that you will be giving yourself every chance to really enjoy the experience. Here are a few tips to help you out with your preparations. We recommend that if you have not ridden in a group before that you come out on our beginners’ ride to learn the ropes and gain confidence.
In respect of yourself we recommend that you do the following:
- You don’t have to be super fit for our beginners’ ride, just strong enough to ride 20 odd miles at between 10 and 12 miles an hour. If you need reassurance consult your Doctor, this will give you the confidence to commit. If you are committing to one of our other rides please be confident that you can cope with the guideline distances and speeds.
- Have a quick look at our guidelines on riding in a group to familiarise yourself with the hand signals and shouted instructions you are likely to see and hear. These instructions will help keep you safe on the route.
- Familiarise yourself with the route.
- Make sure you have a decent breakfast before riding this will keep your energy levels up and help you stay alert.
- Fit a bottle cage to your bike and bring some drink so you can keep well hydrated.
- Bring a couple of snack bars. This will help get you home if you start flagging.
In respect of your bike and other equipment we recommend that you do the following:
- Check your tyre pressures against the manufacturer’s guidelines. Let a bit of pressure out for wet conditions. This will help keep you safe.
- Replace heavily worn or cut tyres, this will improve cornering and puncture protection.
- Buy a bike bag to carry a spare tube and tyre levers so you can fix a puncture on the road. Carry a small pump as well. Your ride leaders will also be carrying this stuff so don’t worry too much if you have overlooked this.
- Carry a phone to call the ride leader if you get lost. We will get you home.
- Make sure you have sufficient wear left on your brake pads for secure braking.
- Clean your wheel rims for the same reason. Try a damp cloth with vinegar, this works really well.
- Make sure all the nuts and bolts on your bike are properly tightened.
- Consider having your bike serviced before you come out with us, especially if it’s been a while since the last one.
- To make your ride as safe as possible make sure your crash helmet is in good condition and don’t forget to wear it, this is one of the only things that we insist on.
- To help you control the bike check for excessive wear on the moving parts of the bike such as the chain. If you are not sure about this check with your local cycle shop.
When you are out on the ride we recommend that you do the following:
- Follow the rules of the road and abide by the Highway Code: it’s safer.
- Be considerate of other road users, it makes the ride more enjoyable and it’s safer.
- Listen to the instructions of other riders and familiarise yourself with the hand signals at the bottom of this page it makes for a safer ride.
- Adapt your riding to the conditions, be careful and moderate your speed in wet conditions.
Inform the ride leader if you are tired and need a rest, when you are alert and can concentrate you will ride better.