Group Ride Etiquette
The following guidelines are to inform new riders and to remind more experienced riders of the behaviour and safety controls expected during club group rides. Ride leaders will ensure that all riders are aware of these and will help riders adhere to them to ensure the safety of all riders.
Why ride in a group?
By riding in a group youʼll learn road skills and be able to chat to more experienced riders, generally speaking it is the best place to learn about how to get into cycling. You will also cover distances at a greater speed and have a more enjoyable time. The club coach will be available on most group rides as well as a number of very experienced riders.
Ride within your ability
Do not attempt to ride an 80 mile training ride if you have never ridden close to that distance before.
Ride with a group suited to your ability. Club runs will wait for everyone, training rides are a little more brutal and will not wait constantly for riders who cannot keep up, you will be dropped and left to make your own way home, so be prepared for this.
Equipment and clothing
Ensure your bike is in full working order, gears change smoothly without the chain comingoff, both front and rear brakes work effectively, tyres are in good order and inflated to the correct pressure (80-100 psi). Mudguards during wet winter rides are advised as they keep you from getting soaked and make the bike easier to clean after the ride. If you are unsure about your position set up on your bike then ask one of the more experienced riders to have a look at it for you and advise on how you can adjust it.
Wear clothes appropriate to the conditions. During autumn and winter months shorts are not enough, your muscles need to be kept warm, so tights will be needed. In very cold weather ensure you have overshoes and gloves and a windproof jacket. Carry the following with you: a rain jacket, a pump, essential tools, 2 spare inner tubes, food for three to four hours, such as bananas, energy bars or gels and plenty to drink. Also carry a mobile phone and some ID, plus money for extra supplies if you run out of food and drink.
IT IS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED THAT YOU WEAR AN APPROVED HELMET ON ALL GROUP RIDES
Ride in two lines
Two parallel lines of riders is the safest and most practical riding formation. All club runs and training rides will assume this formation, usually with the ride leader at or near the front and another experienced rider towards the back. Do not break the line, overtake only on hills or safe places where the road ahead is clear. Contrary to some road users opinion this is legal and it is at the discretion of the riders to single out.
The benefits of riding in a group are more than just social. You will cover more ground with less effort in a group, saving around 20% of your energy when sitting in the bunch. So stay close to the rider in front to maximise the slipstream and allow riders around you to also use it to best effect. If you are nervous about hitting the wheel in front, ride 6 inches either side of it and donʼt stare at the tyre, try to look up, this way you will relax more and see any problems before they arise. Do not overlap your wheel with the riders rear wheel in front of you.
Do not ʻhalf wheelʼ or race ahead!
Half-wheeling is when one of the two riders on the front continually pushes his wheel ahead of his fellow rider to try and push them to go quicker. This is bad practice and will mess the ride pace up. If a rider does this just stay at your pace and ask him to ease up.
The rides are not a race and are more effective if they are ridden at a pace that everyone can keep up with. Stronger riders should just spend more time on the front and make their efforts on the hills and then re-group.
Depending on the type of group you are riding in, the main principle of group riding is to ride together (either socially or ʻthrough and offʼ). So attacking off the front is not a good idea, it will usually upset the more experienced riders and generally upset the discipline and pace of the group. Sometimes there will be a long hill or section where there will be some hard riding allowed. Often there may be a sprint for a town sign, but remember to be sensible, this isnʼt a race and there are riders in the group who may be dropped.
Donʼt ʻswitchʼ suddenly
Hold your line and keep a steady cadence, this is for the rider who may be riding behind and needs to be close and confident that you wonʼt move suddenly or wobble. The riders in front will not stop suddenly without warning so you wonʼt have to make any sudden moves.
Try to relax your upper body as much as possible. This will help prevent fatigue and also prevent you from making sudden changes in direction. Bend the arms a little and keep your head up.
Tell someone if you have a problem
You may be feeling a bit shy about it but tell the riders around you if you have a puncture, a mechanical problem, feel tired or have run out of food or drink, donʼt drift to the back and off it without telling anyone. If they drop you on a hill they will wait or send a rider or two back to pace you up to the group so donʼt worry, they wonʼt abandon you.
If you puncture, shout “puncture” and pull over to the left hand side of the road. The group may ride on and then retrace so they keep warm whilst you replace an inner tube. If you struggle to repair it then ask for help, there will be experienced riders who can help you fix it quickly, so donʼt feel afraid to ask if it will save the group time.
Send the message up and down the line
If you are riding at the back and a rider is dropped for whatever reason tell the riders in front of you and ask them to shout up to the front. The pace can then be adjusted to suit the problem or the group can stop. Also if there are issues at the front shout the info down the line to the riders at the back.
Other general shouted instructions
All of these should be passed down the line, the riders at the back will not hear calls from the front rider(s):
“Car up & Car down” – A general warning of a car trying to pass or one coming around a corner or one coming towards you on a narrow road. If a car is coming towards you, call “Car down”. If a car is coming up from behind call “Car up” to warn the riders ahead of you. The easiest way to remember the difference is “down the road and up your bum”.
“Easy” – If this is shouted it usually means there is a bad junction or potential hazard ahead and to pay attention yourself, itʼs often very easy to rely on the ride leaders to warn you of pending problems in the road. This is especially important if you are in a large group and it will take a while to get around the hazard.
ʻSingle outʼ – When a car is behind and needs extra space to overtake, or if the group is approaching a narrow road or overtaking a line of parked cars.
“On the left”- When approaching a parked car, this is also accompanied by waving your left handbehind your left buttock. Remember to give the car plenty of space as car doors will often be opened.
“Hole” – When there is a hole or other object in the road that needs to be avoided, this is accompanied by pointing down to the floor in line with the obstruction and moving steadily to the side to avoid this.
“Clear” – When pulling out from a junction this is called to inform riders behind that it is safe to carry on. If it is not safe, either shout “Stop” or “Car”.
General rules for club runs
- A list of riders will be taken by the ride leaders at the start of the ride. All non-members will be required to give their names and email address.
- A pre-ride talk will be given to ensure everyone knows what to expect and to briefly outline the route and where the ride splits will be, where the training ride and club ride will separate.
- Guests are allowed to attend 3 rides as a guest, after this they will need to become a member of the club to continue attending the rides.
- New riders and inexperienced riders will be required to join the club run and not the training ride.
- The club run will always be run at the pace of the slowest rider and nobody will be left behind.
- It is advised that all riders have their own insurance, such as British Cycling (BC) or Cyclists Touring Club (CTC).
- Ride leaders and their ʻwing menʼ will be pointed out at the pre-ride briefing. These riders will advise others if they are riding inappropriately during the ride and inform them of the correct way.
- Riders who cannot or will not comply with the ride rules and general etiquette will be asked to leave the ride.