Group riding advice
Group riding is a social activity. This advice is partially drawn from the British Cycling website and is designed to help you enjoy the various rides the club offers.
Make sure that your bike is properly maintained. For your safety and those around you make sure that your brakes, wheels, tyres, gears and chain are in good condition and correctly adjusted. If you aren’t a competent mechanic then get the local bike shop to give your bike a service.
For the ride you should carry basic tools to enable you to fix simple problems, the most common of which is probably a puncture. Hence, a spare inner tube (or 2 preferably), tyre levers, pump and a multi tool, if you can fit in a chain tool and a spare link then that would be a good idea too. Another useful tip is to carry a few cable ties, they can be used to hold all sorts of things together!
Make sure you wear suitable clothing for the conditions, being too cold or too hot, or wet can really spoil the ride. Don’t forget that a helmet is compulsory for club rides.
Choose the correct ride.
The club rides give speed and distance estimates to help you choose the appropriate ride. If you have any queries about the rides please send in an Enquiry from this website.
If you are taking part in your first club-run, you might be nervous about riding in a group. Here are some tips to help you feel at home.
If you’re not used to riding in a group, it can be a bit nerve wracking but try to stay relaxed, follow these tips and avoid tensing up.
Let the other riders know you are fairly new to group riding and that you’d appreciate their patience, advice and tips. Make sure you ask if they say or do something you don’t understand and remember, everyone was new to group riding once.
Listen to the ride leader
The ride leader will give guidance on how to ride the various parts of the route saying when to ride two abreast and when to go to single file, when the riding conditions may require extra care etc.
Successful group riding is all about good communication. Along with verbal calls, there are a number of hand signals that you should be aware of. Again, if you are unsure what a signal means, ask. Always pass signals on through the group. Communication is especially important if you’re on the front of the group when you’ll need to point out obstructions, hazards and any upcoming turns.
Let other riders know if you are coming up to the side of them so they know to hold a straight line.
Look through the group
Don’t just stare at the wheel or backside in front. Look through the group at the road ahead and try to anticipate how the riders ahead will react.
It’s okay to leave a bit of a gap to the wheel ahead and even to ride slightly to one side of it (not too wide or you will force the rider next to you too wide). However, never overlap your front wheel with the rear wheel of the rider in front as, if they have to swerve to avoid a hazard or just have a lapse in concentration, they’ll take out your front wheel.
Easy on the brakes
Avoid hard braking. Freewheel, sit more upright or use light braking to adjust your speed gradually. This is one of the reasons why looking through the group and anticipating the actions of the riders in front is so important.
Don’t half wheel
If you’re on the front, avoid pushing the pace and constantly moving ahead of the person riding next to you. Known as half-wheeling, it’ll push up the speed of the group and is considered bad form.
Remember it is a group ride
No-one will be impressed by you riding off the front of the group. If you are one of the stronger riders within the group then take longer turns on the front but avoid pulling the group apart by setting too strong a pace. Similarly, if you are struggling to hold the pace let the riders in front know to ease up a little.
Don’t surge or slow
When you come to the front, try to keep the pace/intensity of the group consistent. Don’t surge if you’re feeling strong and conversely, if you’re struggling, don’t try and slow the group. If you’re on a good day, just do a long turn and, if not, just put in a few pedal strokes before pulling off and settling back in the wheels.
Mudguards on, tri-bars off
In the winter especially but also in wet summer weather please use mudguards. Also, if you have clip-on tri-bars, take them off for group rides.