Pointing out road hazards on a Sunday ride
Photo by Alvaro Lassaletta
The safety of our rides is really important. It is essential to know and practice how to ride in a group safely, exercise good judgment and thus not endanger others.
Cycling on the road is inherently dangerous and holds the risk of injury and even death. Riding in a group poses additional risks because you will be moving fast in close proximity to others with traffic all around you. Riders are responsible for riding within their limits as well as assisting others to make sure our rides and events are safe and enjoyable.
How we ride together
Most often, we ride in a double line, where we pair up to ride two-by-two. If road conditions require that we go single file, the Ride Leader will call "Single File!" and hold up one arm. In both cases, we ride "tight to the right" of the lane. As a group, we always aim to ride predictably and smoothly, avoiding sudden actions that could surprise riders and traffic around us. On no-drop, "all-together" rides (Beginner & Intermediate) we ride as fast as the slowest rider to ensure that the group is together and no one gets overextended or frustrated.
Ride handlebar to handlebar with your partner in line: do not overlap wheels with another rider.
Maintain a space of 0.5-1.5 m between you and the wheel in front of you; in wet weather make it 2-4 m to allow adequate space for braking.
Look ahead up the line and keep your eye on the back of rider in front of you: do not watch their rear wheel.
If you hear something happen behind you (rider crash or mechanical problem), do not turn around suddenly, but keep riding forward looking ahead until it is safe to stop and pull over.
We encourage each other, lead by example and provide advice intended to help other riders be safe and improve their skills.
top 10 rules for group riding
1. Obey all traffic laws and rules of the road.
2. It is the responsibility of every rider to maintain a tight bunch. Do your part to keep a tight formation. Ride bar-to-bar with the person beside you to avoid the risk of wheel overlap.
3. Use hand signals and point out obstacles for other riders. If you don't have time to use hand signals, use your voice: "Stopping!" Use your voice for other calls such as "Car up!" or "Car back!" If you are in the middle of the bunch, relay hand signals and calls so everyone is aware.
4. Maintain a constant even pedal stroke and constant even power. Soft pedal instead of coasting. Do not throw down a power surge on inclines. Do not half-wheel on the front: it causes accumulated acceleration that is stressful for the rest of the bunch. Be constantly aware of your speed and position (bar-to-bar) relative to the other riders around you so you don't half-wheel or overlap wheels accidentally.
5. When starting up (traffic light, stop sign, group stop), the riders on the front must soft pedal (ride intentionally slow) to wait for all riders behind to clip in. Check that the group is all together and then gradually increase speed.
6. If you are going to stand up and ride out of the saddle, make sure you do it at the top of your pedal stroke with downward pressure on the pedal to minimize the degree your bike shoots backward: thus you will avoid surprising the rider behind you who could crash into you if they aren't ready to compensate for your sudden action.
7. If passing/overtaking other riders, first check behind you for cars or other riders, then pass ONLY on the left of the rider you are overtaking. This rule applies especially to sprint segments and hill climbing.
8. Be aware of what is going on around you and communicate to others: tell other riders/Ride Leader if there is a split in the group. Call "Pace!" if it is too fast.
9. Riders on the back of the bunch are responsible for communicating to those on the front when it is safe to turn or change lanes: if there is traffic coming, call and repeat "Wait!"—when it is safe, call "Clear!"
10. If you leave a ride before it ends, tell the Ride Leader or other riders that you are leaving.
Have questions? Ask your Ride Leader: they are there to help.
Here is a great video from the GCN Network that fits with our approach to group riding and our good-natured riding spirit: