The benefits of group riding are wide and varied and by following a few simple tips and techniques, you can make the most of your time on your bike by maximising the camaraderie, support and slipstreaming effect of riding with friends.
The Bicester Train going for “GOLD” with Gary Kemp
Cycling need not be a lonely slog – especially as the dark nights loom – so here are a few key pointers for riding in a group :-
- Ensure you are looking ahead and keeping a consistent line of travel.
- It is important to be aware of your speed – there is no point sitting at a comfortable pace in the group and then putting the hammer down when it is your turn on the front as this will just fragment the group and annoy everybody!
- A consistent speed allows the group to ride close and compact – maximizing the energy savings of the group as a whole (it also allows you to have a conversation without shouting)
- Rapid changes of speed lead to the “concertina” effect. Always accelerate smoothly away from junctions/bends (no sprinting out of the saddle) and give plenty of warning of slowing and stopping when using your brakes.
- Communicate with other riders to establish your position and your intentions i.e. vocal instructions such as ‘coming through’, ‘car up / down’, ‘on your right’ and ‘single out’ are common place on the road and should be understood before setting off.
- Never undertake a rider on the left by choice. If you MUST undertake then give a clear warning and received an acknowledgement. A touch on the hip will make the rider aware of your presence.
- Pass riders on the right whenever possible. Give a vocal warning and touch a hand to their hip so they are aware of your presence.
- Never veer off-line or change speed without warning.
- Hand signals perform a similar job and are just as important when passing instructions through a group from front to back.
- Observe and anticipate other riders and the situations that are unfolding. Observation is not just limited to what you can see but also what you can hear too.
- Avoid making any sudden movements, such as braking harshly or cutting across other riders. Only move if clear to do so, remember to observe and anticipate.
- Be assertive with your position; stand up if necessary to give yourself space and to prevent other riders from coming too close.
- Be prepared to make contact, staying relaxed is the key, if you’re not relaxed then when a rider makes contact you will increase your chances of crashing. For instance maintain a strong and relaxed position on the bike, loose shoulders with a bend in the elbow to allow for movement and contact.
All riders in a group have a responsibility for the safety of both themselves AND the other members of the group. Knowledge and appreciation of the do’s and don’ts of group riding ensure the safety of the group while maximising the benefits and enjoyment of riding with friends.