Group Riding

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 &amp, 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 may 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

‘Stopping’ Brake

‘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.