On our clubs rides we are lucky that we can have so many groups with different average speeds. But there will always be variation in ability especially as the gradient changes.
When riding in a group, the toughest place to ride is on the front, in the wind. The second toughest place to ride is at the back. The easiest place to ride is second position in the line behind the leaders. There are 2 reasons for this. Firstly although you get a huge benefit from having a rider in front, you also gain a small benefit from having a rider behind. Secondly, when going around corners the group always changes speed and this gets more pronounced towards the back of the group – so riders at the back have more work to do.
Therefore, on a ride, if at any time you think you are the weakest person, you should not be at the back! The back few positions should be stronger riders.
If a group wishes to make the fastest time possible, you need to protect your weakest riders and ensure they are never riding in the wind. So no gaps in the line. It is the responsibility of ALL to yell forwards if any gaps appear. A yell of “gap” means slow down on the front.
Strong riders can help a group by riding “on the front” and doing the work in the wind. Riding “off the front” with a gap behind is not helpful and will slow the group down. Experienced group riders will be able to lead on the front and vary their pace so that no-one gets dropped. This is a useful skill to learn.
Having strong riders at the back means that if a gap does happen, they can help bridge the gap.
For steep “hill climbs” or steep technical descents, we all ride at our own pace and regroup at the top or bottom. Be considerate to others in the group. If you are slower than others, keep left. Allow the fast descenders or hill climbers to pass easily on the right.
For most ups and downs we ride as a group. On long uphill ramps the hill climbers in the group can take their turn on the front, helping to pull the heavier riders up the hill.