It is important to know how to ride safely in a group. There are a series of basic rules to follow in order to ride properly in a group. If you are new to the sport, this will help for your next group ride, if you are old to the sport, this should be a useful recap of what you already know.
It’s not a Race – A group ride is not a race. You are not to “Attack” off the front or try to show everyone how strong you are. That’s what races are for.
Bar-to-Bar/Shoulder –to Shoulder – When riding in a group you should be riding 2 by 2, side by side and be perfectly handlebar to handlebar. Do not sprint ahead and disrupt the flow. Even if there is a corner coming up, stay side by side and go through the corner. Riding with your bars ahead of the rider beside you is called “half-wheeling”. It’s up to you to keep up with the speed of the slower rider next to you.
Rotation of riders in the group – Riding at the front of a group requires the most effort as these two riders have no shelter from the wind. Riders rotate so that the time spent at the front is shared. The ride leader will call for the group to change up when it is time to change riders at the front. Then the riders on the outside (right side) front position accelerates slightly and moves up and into the inside (left side) front position. The line of riders on the outside follow this rider, so that the second rider is now also at the front on the outside position. The ride leader will normally keep these 2 riders at the front for 3 to 10 minutes and then call for another change up. The change up should be smooth and not alter the speed of the group.
Gaps There should be NO gaps in a group ride. As soon as you see a gap, fill it by riding into the space in a steady and controlled manner. There is no need to sprint into the space and then slam on the brakes, just gradually fill in any gaps as soon as you see them.
Obstacles and Hand Signals – Obstacles and hazards should be warned by a hand signal. When you see an obstacle or hazard in the road ahead of you, point your hand down to let the riders behind know which direction they should go to avoid it. You may also call out the hazard (e.g. hole, gravel, glass) or the position of the hazard (left, centre, right) but if doing so make sure you call it in good time and if possible use the hand signal as well.
Slowing and Adjusting Speed – When the rider in front of you slows down, you either stop pedaling and start to slightly overlap your front wheel with their rear wheel, or you touch the brakes gradually, once again using the “wheel overlap” as a buffer zone so as not to slow down too suddenly for the riders behind you.
Talk to the rider beside you; get to know his or her name. Find out the route the group has chose, be aware of upcoming junctions and turns on the route. If you find the speed of the spin is too high, or for any reason you wish to detach from the group then watch for the best moment to do so. Usually this is when you are at the back of the group, but you can do so even when in the middle or at the front. Let your fellow riders know that you intend to slow down and then slow gradually allowing the other riders to pass you.
On wet days, use mudguards to protect yourself and fellow riders from spray off the roads. Allow more time for braking and in general ride slower than on dry days.