Ride in a group

Riding in a group is a fundamental skill necessary for safely enjoying club rides.

This page covers:

Group Riding

Many club members have never ridden in a group before joining the club, which is one reason why we ask that your first ride with us is on the Saturday Bacon Butty Ride.  Other members will give you advice on what to do.

The first priority is safety.  When in a group, we may ride very close to each other, maybe within a foot or less of the person in front.  This is so we can benefit from their slipstream.  This requires trust – you will want to know that the person in front of you rides in a predictable way.

View the British Cycling ‘Ride Smart’ video for group riding.  In practice, we change the rider at the front more frequently than they recommend.  Stephen Roche gives his tips on RCUK, so have a look at that as well.

Some riders worry about riding two-abreast.  This is perfectly legal but you need to concentrate, just as you would if driving, looking to anticipate changes in pace and direction.  If a car comes up behind the group it is better to ‘file-up’ as soon as it is safe to do so – there is no sense in deliberately annoying the motorist who is, after all, driving a ton of metal.

To be safe and also efficient, you need to ride consistently, without sudden moves to the left or right, or sudden braking or acceleration.

You need to communicate e.g. to let others know that you are moving past them, or that you need to stop, or that it really is time for a coffee.

You also need to use hand signals, indicating turns and hazards, such as potholes or parked cars.  This excellent page from Road Cycling UK hand signals tells you all you need to know.

The Chain Gang

This is the name given to any fast training ride in which the group rides ‘through and off’ or ‘rotates’, the aim being to share the workload and make smooth fast progress.  Our chain gang ride on Wednesday nights is not open to new members.  We ride over the marshes without street-lighting, so good bike lights are essential.  We also insist that you wear a helmet.

You need to understand how to ride through and off.

If you do not know how to do this, you must ask for advice – we will show you the technique.

Etiquette: the rules of the road

Good group riding and road manners matter because they help ensure swift and safe progress.  They also help to ensure club harmony.  A member who rides carelessly, perhaps cutting in and forcing others to swerve, should not be surprised if they receive an impolite oath or two…  Riders also need to do their share of the work.

Road Cycling UK has their view on etiquette, as does British Cycling for Sportives, but it applies to any group ride, and these are good places to start.

Lights

Many club members ride in daylight with a flashing rear light, especially on cloudy days, and may also use a front light.  Hopefully, you also realise you need lights at night.  It does not help other riders if the lights are so bright that they burn the retina and melt the road…  Please angle lights towards the road, not up into the eyes of fellow riders and at night, have the light on solidly, not flashing.

Dealing with aggressive drivers

It’s going to happen – sooner or later, you will encounter a driver who is not best pleased with your road position, your speed or your choice of cycle clothing.  You will also, undoubtedly, encounter a driver who thinks you need no road space other than the gutter.  Before you know it, you’ve made a rude sign…  Here’s some advice on how to deal with these problems in a better way.

Remember also that we often ride in the club jersey, so you are identifiable.  You are also vulnerable and in an argument with a car, van or lorry – you will lose.  If you’re in a group, you are all vulnerable, so think twice before escalating incidents.