Here are some of the ‘rules’ of group riding.
Ride single file in town and avoid confrontation
Contrary to the belief of some road users, riding double file is legal but experience suggests sometimes it’s not practical until we get a little further out of built up areas. Use common sense, and try not to get involved in confrontations with the inevitable aggressive motorist. They are driving a 1 ton vehicle which is always going to win…….. If the situation does become difficult phone the Police and report the incident noting the car registration number and details. Ideally record the confrontation on a mobile phone video.
Don’t switch suddenly
Hold your line and keep a steady cadence, this is for the rider who may be riding behind and needs to be close and confident that you won’t move suddenly or wobble. The riders in front should not stop suddenly without warning, but always be prepared for any sudden moves.
Try to relax your upper body as much as possible. This will help prevent fatigue and also prevent you from making sudden changes in direction. Bend the arms a little and keep your head up.
Tell someone if you have a problem
You may be feeling a bit shy about it but tell the riders around you if you have a puncture, mechanical problem, or just aren’t feeling too good. The information should be passed forward to the lead riders on the front so appropriate and safe action can be taken. Don’t drift to the back and off it without telling anyone. It is normal practice for the faster riders to wait if a slower rider is dropped, for example, on a hill.
The group may ride on and then retrace so they keep warm whilst you fix your flat. If you are a slow mechanic ask for help. There will be experienced riders who can fix a flat in quick time, so don’t feel afraid to ask if it will save the group time. However, everyone attending club rides should be able to fix a puncture without assistance, in case they get separated.
Send the message to the front
If you are riding at the back and a rider is dropped for whatever reason, tell the riders in front of you and ask them to shout up to the front. The pace can then be adjusted to suit the problem or the group can stop. Once riders have been left behind, finding them and regrouping can be difficult.
Other general shouted instructions:
- ‘Car back’. A general warning of a car approaching from the rear which might try to overtake the group.
- ‘Car front’ or ‘Car up’ A general warning of a car coming around a corner.
- Easy’ or ‘Slowing’. If this is shouted it usually means there is a bad junction or potential hazard ahead and to pay attention yourself, it’s often very easy to rely on the ride leaders to
warn you of pending problems in the road. This is especially important if you are in a
large group and it will take a while to get around the hazard.
- ’On your left’ means that there is an obstacle on the left and the group will move to the
right to avoid it e.g. a single parked car, walkers or obstacles
- ‘Single out’ or ‘Single’ When a car is behind and needs extra space to overtake, or if the
group is approaching a narrow road or overtaking a line of parked cars.
- ‘Stopping’ The group is stopping – usually for traffic lights or busy junction.
General hand signals
- Hand up in the air Usually signifies that the rider signalling is stopping (e.g. for a
puncture) or there is a hazard in the road that the whole group may have to stop for.
- Pointing out holes in the road This is essential. You must point out drain covers, holes,
dead badgers, glass or anything else which may cause harm to a cyclist. Basically if you
have to go around it tell the rider behind about it before they hit it.
- Indication directions to riders behind. Whether it is slowing down or turning at junctions,
large groups need everyone to indicate for other road users, so let them know what you
intend to do.
- Waving for parked cars, horses and pedestrians. When overtaking riders will sometimes
wave a hand behind them. This signifies there is a hazard that means the group will
have to move out. They will do this by waving in the direction you will need to move.
Remember you are expected to do the same so the rider behind you has seen the obstacle.