Group riding, when done properly, is not only hugely enjoyable but it will improve a rider’s cycling skills and it can push a cyclist to ride further and faster than they would do on their own. However, riding in a group does require that all riders modify their riding behaviour to ensure the safety of all road users. For example, negotiating a road junction is not as easy for a large group as it is for a single rider. Additionally, motorists can often seem confused by a large group of riders, and often seem to misjudge road distances and speed when overtaking the group, meaning that they can sometimes dangerously cut in or pass too closely.
Therefore, in order that all riders get the most from the Sunday Club Run, and return home safely, there are a few things that everyone can do to ensure a safe environment for riders of all ages and abilities.
This document is intended to be a living, working set of advice, so if you have any suggestions, please let us know.
Chairman – Ogmore Valley Wheelers
It is human nature that there will be a competitive element when you have two or more people riding bikes together but please remember that, above all else, the Sunday Run is a social event. It is not a race.
Different groups are designed to cater for different abilities and rider preferences, but please remember that there will be a spread of abilities even within a particular group. The key to a successful group ride is to maintain a steady pace and to keep the pack as a compact unit for the duration of the ride.
Members of the group need to communicate up and down the line using hand signals or shouts or both. Follow and pass on the hand signals and calls of the other riders to ensure communication throughout the pack.
If you are at the back of the group and see someone being dropped it is your responsibility to call to the riders in front that the pace is too high and the pack should communicate this up to the front. The lead cyclists will not be aware if you start to drop. Ask them to slow down - it is your ride too. When asked to “ease up’ do not brake suddenly. Simply ease the pace by pedalling less hard or freewheeling for a moment.
Cover your brakes at all times and, for the benefit of the whole group, please use your brakes as gently and smoothly as you safely can. Sudden changes of speed cause a concertina effect which gets magnified down the line which can be dangerous for riders behind.
SUNDAY / MID WEEK CLUB RUN - CODE OF CONDUCT / ETIQUETTE GUIDE
As groups become larger, the ease of communication within the group is curtailed. Accordingly, it is important that the groups do not become so large so as to make communication difficult and /or cause a danger to riders and other road users. For these reasons, while size of the groups will often be determined by the numbers turning up on a Sunday morning, it is recommended that a group should not be too large. It is thought that 20 riders is the maximum number which can be safely managed. It is therefore recommended that if there are more than 20 riders, the group should be evenly split.
There are a few simple basic rules which, if consistently adopted will help ensure the enjoyment of all riders.
Follow the Highway Code
It should go without saying!
Respect the white line
Safety is paramount and this does not need further explanation except to state the obvious fact that riding on the wrong side of the road puts you, other riders and other road users in unnecessary and unwarranted danger.
Members should ride a maximum of 2 abreast in 2 close parallel lines, focusing on keeping the group neat and tidy. Riders should attempt to ride with 1ft approx. between their front wheel and the back wheel of the rider in front. There should also be about 1ft between the shoulders of pairs riding abreast.
There can sometimes be a tendency for riders to take a line to one side of the rider in front of them and to overlap wheels. This should be avoided for a number of reasons:
It causes the group to echelon and spread across the road, giving the appearance, when the group is approached from front or back, that the riders in the group are riding 3 and 4 abreast (to the annoyance of other road users);
If you ride in the middle of the two wheels in front of you, you will push the rider on your outside into the path of passing vehicles;
If you overlap wheels, or nudge in between the wheels of the riders in front. Any sudden change in direction from either you or the riders in front is likely to result in a crash, potentially bringing down riders behind too.
On busy roads, or narrow lanes, all riders should be prepared to ride in single file. The best way to single out is that riders on the inside should in turn slightly accelerate to allow riders on the outside to in turn slip in behind them. The instinctive reaction to an oncoming car is to brake. This has a ripple effect through the group and makes singling out more difficult, and is the more likely to cause a crash.
Riding on the front
When on the front keep pedalling! If you freewheel, everyone behind you will have to brake.
It seems only fair that all members of the group should take a turn at the front, particularly when the group is riding into a strong wind or other adverse weather. There are a couple of techniques for this.
First, clearly tell the group that there is to be a change at the front.
1. Either the rider on the outside at the front accelerates and moves over in front of the nearside rider. The outside riders then move up one and the last rider on the inside will move to the outside to reform into pairs.
2. Or the rider in front pulls off to the right allowing the rider behind to come through. If riding in pairs the rider on the left pulls off to the left and the rider to the right pulls off to the right. The pair of riders behind then come through to the front.
Road junctions and roundabouts
Particular care must be taken at road junctions. Groups should try to remain orderly and avoid bunching at the mouth of the junction. Members of the group who have negotiated the junction should be aware that other members may have had to wait and need time to rejoin.
If the group does split the riders at the front should wait for delayed riders, either stopping altogether or riding at a gentle pace until the group is back together.
Whilst it is customary for riders to give a shout of “clear” to those behind, please remember that each member of the group is individually responsible for his or her own safety and they should only proceed onto a junction when they are sure that it is safe to do so.
Everyone climbs differently and a climb will inevitably lead to the group splitting. If you know you are a weaker climber, drop to the back before the climb. Do not move to the front, you will be forcing other riders to go around you when the climb starts. Standing out of the saddle causes a momentary deceleration, so if you plan to do this let the rider behind you know.
When a climb levels out, the leading riders should pedal through, do not suddenly stop pedalling and slow down. If other riders have been dropped on the climb, gently reduce the pace and wait for them to catch up.
Riders should navigate and point out hazards in the road by either shouting or using hand signals. It is important that information is passed quickly and clearly to all members of the group. Set out below are some common used signals.
Car up Warns that a vehicle is approaching the rear of the group
Car down Warns that a vehicle is approaching the front of the group
Hole Accompanied by pointing to the road with the appropriate right or left hand, warns of some hazard in the road. e.g. pothole, a branch, a brick, large puddle, etc.
On the left Often accompanied by putting the left arm behind the back warns of an obstruction on the nearside of the road. e.g. a parked car, a pedestrian, etc.
Easy Request to slow down and be careful, for example because there is a hazard ahead or the group is approaching a junction, or there is some problem in the group.
Stop A command to stop
Mechanical Warn riders behind you that you are likely to slow that you are going off the back with a problem.
If you can control your bike, raise your hand in the air to indicate
Clear At a junction, this is an indication to other riders that that the road is completely clear in both directions. However, please note that a shout of 'clear' is never ever a justification for not checking and pulling out and every rider has individual responsibility to ensure the road is clear for themselves.
Gravel Gravel or other loose debris is on the road, accompanied by holding the hand flat over the road and shaking it
Ease up An instruction to the lead riders to slow the pace (usually as a result of other riders being dropped). The lead riders should not stop but should continue to “soft pedal” at a slower pace until the group has reformed and the “All on” signal (see below) has been communicated up the line.
All on A signal to be passed up to the lead riders to indicate that dropped riders have rejoined the main group and that normal riding pace may be resumed.
It is important that the lead riders do not accelerate to normal pace until such a call is received.
Ogmore Valley Wheelers
(Adapted with the kind permission of St Neots Cycling Club)