Guidance for Riders
The most important factor to successful group riding is communication. Make sure you know the meaning of and always pass any verbal signals through the group. As well as obvious shouts such as “slowing” and “braking”, others to be aware of are “car down”, meaning there is a car coming down towards us of, “car ”up, meaning there is a car coming up behind us, and “single out”, meaning to adopt single file. Be aware there are local variations of these shouts, so use your eyes too. There are a number of hand signals you should also be aware of (see illustrations below).
Stay relaxed in the group but constantly look around and don’t mindlessly follow the wheels. Look past the riders in front to get a heads up of the road ahead. Always look first and let the riders around you know before moving within the group.
Obey the rules of the road
Most rides and events take place on roads that are open to traffic, so ride accordingly. Respect junctions and always stay on the correct side of the road. Where conditions allow, it is perfectly acceptable to ride two abreast but never three. On corners and narrow roads, it is safer to ride in single file.
Ride consistently and predictably
Your movements will affect everyone in the group. Hold a straight line, don’t weave and always overtake around the right hand side of the group. Don’t grab your brakes and, if you stand out of the saddle, don’t let your back wheel drop back.
Don’t overlap wheels
In case the rider ahead needs to brake, don’t follow their rear wheel directly. It’s perfectly acceptable and you’ll get the same drafting benefit from riding six inches either side of it. However it’s essential that you don’t overlap their rear wheel as any sudden movements by them will be likely to bring both of your down.
Make sure both you and your bike are prepared
Ensure your bike is well maintained as misfiring gears or poor brakes can make you a liability in a bunch. Carry suitable spares, clothing and some of your own food and drink so that you are self-reliant. Check your tyre pressures before every ride. Pressures above 90psi (6.2 bar) go a long way to preventing punctures!
Avoid half wheeling
If road conditions and traffic allows you’ll often be riding two abreast. Maintain an even pace and stay level with the person next to you. Do not constantly up the pace whenever a rider draws level to you. Known as “half-wheeling” this is definitely frowned on.
Ride Leaders and Routes
All three groups have a designated leader who is in charge. They will make decisions about conduct, conditions, and individual riders. The route is published in advance on Facebook. Leaders will not ‘chase down’ riders off-the-front if they miss turnings etc. The B and C groups carry radios and have a ‘tail-ender’ to keep the front and the back of the ride together. Individual riders must be aware of slower riders and communicate with the radio holders if there are problems.
In addition to the standard directional signal of the left or right hand extended out to the side, which should be used whenever you are cycling on the public highway, see below some of the other common hand signals used when riding in a group situation.
Make yourself aware of these prior to going out on a group ride and also check with a group member which hand signals and verbal shouts they regularly use, as they can vary locally. Too many signals and shouts are worse than no shouts at all!
One hand as if “gently patting an invisible dog”: This shows that the group is slowing down or just to ease the pace back a bit.
Pointing down at the road sometimes with a circling motion: Indicates an obstruction or hazard on the road such as a pothole or drain cover that needs to be avoided. Be sensible with this one and only point out major obstacles that should be avoided. This signal is often accompanied with a call of ‘hole’, or ‘gravel’.
Waving/pointing behind back: Indicates that there is an obstruction such as a parked car or pedestrian and that the whole group needs to move in the direction indicated to avoid it.