14 Group Ride Etiquette Tips: How to Avoid Being “That Rider”
Despite rumours of the death of the local group ride, athletes around the country are still meeting outside bike shops and coffee houses for their Saturday morning club rides and there might be some new or visiting riders at the group. If you’re new to group riding or want to make the new folks feel more welcome, it’s important to remember good group ride etiquette.
Point Out Hazards
Remember loud audible calls can be a source of annoyance for people trying to sleep in built up areas so these are times when signalling will be preferred. However, do not compromise group safety by staying quiet.
If you run over debris, use your hand (preferably with gloves on) to brush the surface of your tire. On the front tire obviously do it in front of the fork. For the rear tire, hook your thumb on the seat stay and use your fingertips to brush the tire directly in front of the stays. Hooking your thumb prevents you from getting your hand jammed between your rear tire and the seat tube. Trust me, that’s an experience you don’t want to have.)
Be proactive around safety and pacing
Nobody likes being barked at constantly, and certainly not during a nice group ride. But there are some times when it’s good to speak up. The riders at the back should let the group know when they need to single up to better share the road with cars, or when there is a particularly large vehicle coming around (like a dump truck).
The riders in about the 3rd row of a double paceline are in a good position to call for an adjustment to the pace. At this point in the group you can tell if the riders around you are struggling with the speed or the wind direction. Riders in the first and second rows can sometimes misjudge their pace and position relative to the rest of the group.
And of course, it’s everybody’s responsibility to watch out for potential bicycle-car collisions. If you see something, say something!
Stay off the brakes
Pull longer, not harder
Pull shorter, not slower
Let the rider behind you know that you are pulling out of the line by an short flick of your right elbow, ease to the left so the fresh ride can came through then slowly drift to the rear of the bunch.
Pace the climbs for the middle of the group
On social group rides it’s typical to wait at the top of longer climbs, but to minimize the frequency of these soft pedal periods or stoppages, try to set a pace that’s comfortable for the middle of the group.
This may mean it’s a bit easy for the fast guys at the front and pretty challenging for some folks at the back, but this pacing strategy is good for keeping the group together over the majority of hills.
Taking a Drink Or Eating
It is preferable if you need to drink or eat, (and you will have to) do this when you are at the back. If necessary, Drop out of the pace line whilst doing this.
Learn how to blow your nose (if you have to)
Shift as you stand up
To avoid this, shift up once or twice into a harder gear as you rise from the saddle. With your full bodyweight over the pedal you can push a bigger gear at lower cadence and maintain your speed without causing a kickback.
Don’t pull so hard you drop yourself
Learn to gauge your efforts and keep something in the tank to make sure you can latch onto the back of the group and stay on a wheel.
Don’t show up late and unprepared
Don’t half-wheel your friends
Don’t Sprint Away from Stops
Don’t run red lights
Don’t Get The Whole Group in Trouble or in Danger
When you decide to join a group ride, it’s like joining the Musketeers: all for one and one for all. For safety and efficiency, the whole group needs to move with one mind.
This is most important when you are at the front. Can the whole group make it through the green traffic light? Is there enough space in traffic for the whole group to turn left? Though everyone has to be responsible for himself or herself, try not to make riders at the back have to decide between a dangerous situation and staying with the group.
Individual cyclists and groups should absolutely defend the right to safely share the road, just remember that how you do that will reflect on the entire group. Be an adult, even when others are not. In the case of traffic stops, one hothead can get everybody ticketed instead of getting on with the ride.
In the long run most of these habits become second nature, and the longer you ride with the same group of people on a team or local club ride, the more you will be able to anticipate how the whole group is going to behave and the more comfortable you’ll be riding close together in a nice, tight pack or pace line.
Have fun out there!