Safe riding in groups
If you ride with a group, here are some guidelines which will make the ride safer and more enjoyable for all.
- Be predictable with your actions. Maintain a steady straight line and don’t brake suddenly or change direction suddenly. Remember that there are riders following you closely.
- Ride beside your partner in the bunch. The person you are temporarily paired up with at any time as you ride along is your partner and you share a mutual responsibility for each other. If the pace is too high and your partner starts to lose the wheel in front, ride beside your partner and call out to the rider in front to moderate the bunch’s speed.
- Point out and call out any road hazards ahead. These include pot-holes, drainage grates, stray animals, joggers, opening car doors and parked cars.
- Don’t overlap wheels, that is to say remain entirely behind the rider in front of you. If you overlap wheels, just a slight direction change or gust of wind could easily cause you to touch wheels and fall.
- Pedal down hill when you are at the head of the bunch. The riders behind you will be coasting in your slipstream, but at least they won’t have to be on the brakes.
- Keep left when in front to allow room for others to pass safely on your right, particularly in traffic. Only pass other riders on their right hand side.
- Be smooth with your turn at the front of a group. Don’t increase your effort dramatically when you get to the front, because you will be causing riders behind you to do the same. A group will remain cohesive when turns are completed smoothly.
- Try to avoid leaving gaps when following wheels. Cyclists save about 30% of their energy by following a wheel. Each time you leave a gap you are forcing yourself to ride alone to bridge it.
- Don’t panic if you bump shoulders, hands or bars with another rider. Try to stay relaxed in your upper body to absorb any bumps. By the way, this is the reason that most road bunches prefer riders to have drop handlebars, which are roughly the same width as your shoulders. Flat bars such as on a mountain bike are often wider than the rider’s shoulders, and can hook up and create problems if riding in close proximity. Likewise, time trial handlebars or “tri” bars aren’t suited to riding in a bunch.
- When climbing hills avoid following the wheel in front too closely. When the rider in front of you decides to stand up out of the saddle, the change in momentum can often catch a rider who is following too closely, resulting in a fall from a wheel touch.