Riding as a Group is the main activity in which the Club engages and there are 3 important themes to this activity.
The Club wished to ensure that no harm comes to you and other road users (man and beast) as well as bikes and other vehicles. So please ride sensibly, on a well maintained bike and obey the ride leaders’ instructions.
Show respect to other road users and fellow cyclists including those within your group. Avoid road rage situations – riding under a veil of red mist is dangerous.
There may be several reasons why we cycle but the social and fun aspects are to essential in ensuring we have the drive and commitment to continue.
The following are guidelines in how we should approach Group Riding within this Club and these are structured under 4 main headings : Safety, Equipment and Clothing, Riding in a Group and Leading the Group.
- Bikes should be well maintained to ensure they are safe to use on the road and unlikely to breakdown during the ride. This includes ensuring the brakes are efficient, chains and gears are clean and lubricated, wheels well clamped, tyres are not worn-out and are inflated to correct pressure and finally the steering is tight.
- The rider should be clearly visible to other road users by wearing either a bright coloured cycling top or a high-vis vest.
- Front and rear lighting is required by law at night. If you are likely to ride in poor light, you should also use front and rear lights – remember cycling through a canopy of trees even in summer can be dark. It is advisable to use the rear light (and possibly front too) during daytime as well to maintain visibility to other road users.
- Though wearing a bike helmet is not a legal requirement, riders are encouraged to wear one in order to minimise head injury.
- Sport or even safety glasses should be considered to protect the eyes from insects, rain and general debris.
. EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING
- Club routes invariably use minor and occasionally major roads and so are more suited to road (and possibly cyclocross) bikes. Mountain bikes are slower and harder work on tarmac but are good for power training (building muscle strength) on roads. Though they can be fitted with thinner and slicker tyres to reduce rolling resistance, they are not a substitute for road bikes.
- Proper bike fit will make your cycling efficient and reduce the chance of sprains and long term injury for example to the knee joints. Fitting includes having a bike frame size, saddle height and slope, and fore/aft position of the saddle appropriate to your body.
- Gloves keep your hands warmer and protect your hands from abrasion if you fall. Wind and waterproof gloves are recommended in winter to protect from the air chill factor which is exacerbated in wet conditions. Gel padded gloves also cushion against road vibrations.
- Warm cycling tops, leggings and arm warmers all help in cold weather, as does wearing a base layer (several layers better than one). However, don’t overdo it or you can overheat and sweat profusely.
- Sun tan lotion should be considered in summer (and other times in prolonged sunlight), to protect exposed skin (face, arms and legs).
- Padded shorts or tights protect the bottom from the battering and possibly chaffing caused by riding. If chaffing becomes a problem, there are chamois creams such as “udderly smooth” which can help. Good personal hygiene should prevent irritation and jock itch (jock is no joke!) so shower/wash as soon as possible after a ride and never wear the shorts/tights again until they are thoroughly washed, rinsed and dried.
- Talking of undercarriage, most road bikes do not come fitted with mudguards but these are useful in wet weather. The rear mudguard will stop water, mud, horse manure etc from decorating your back and hitting the riders behind you. A front mudguard will reduce muck covering your bike and legs and even stop the proverbial from flying up to your face, eyes and mouth.
- There are several items that you should consider taking on a ride and most essential is a bottle or 2 of water (plain or flavoured) - ideally with electrolyte (sodium and potassium salts) to replace that lost through sweat, and table sugar or glucose for energy.
- Other items that ought to be taken include a puncture repair kit (patches, adhesive and 2 or 3 tyre levers) ideally with 1 or 2 spare inner tubes, a pump (or CO2 canister system), possibly basic bike tools like Allen keys, a padlock, chain breaker and quick release/speed chain link – the list is never ending.
- Consider also taking a mobile phone for emergency use and money for tea and cake.
- If the weather turns bad, you may need a wind or rain proof top at the ready.
- RIDING IN A GROUP
- Currently, the Club operates 3 Group Rides :-
- 1)Social Group Ride for beginners, inexperienced and slow riders.
- 2)Intermediate Group Ride for faster and more experienced riders
- 3)Club Ride for faster and accomplished riders.
Choose the group best suited to your cycling ability. If you are unsure, seek advice from the group leaders or Club members. Anyone over-estimating their ability, will inevitably become the rate-limiting rider in the group.
NB Not all of the following will apply to the Social Group where single file riding is more likely to be the norm.
- Ride 2 abreast when safe to do so as this shortens the pack and it makes it easy for other road users to pass- but avoid 3 abreast. Be prepared to drop to single file eg. on narrow or congested roads and passing obstacles.
- Ride directly behind the rider in front and maintain a gap of about 1 wheel width or more to suit your comfort. It is dangerous to cycle to the side of the bike in front or to overlap your wheel with their rear wheel.
- Keep in pace with the rider at your side – never ride slightly ahead (“half-wheeling”) and slow if they do.
- The inner riders should not cycle too close to the edge of the road but 2 to 3 feet (30 – 60 cm) from the edge to avoid hazards (drains, gravel, broken glass and sections of collapsed road edging etc).
- Be aware of the rider behind – if they are struggling, slow up.
- Brake smoothly, in a controlled manner and avoid hard braking.
- Front riders should set a pace to match the pack behind to avoid splitting the group.
- Hill ascents may stretch the group out and so be prepared to slow or stop at the top or soon after at a safe point to allow regrouping.
- On descending a hill, the front riders need to maintain a good pace and avoid the group backing up.
- Only use safe areas to stop or regroup eg. not at junctions or the brow of a hill.
- Front riders can be rotated to allow fresher riders to lead - make known your wish to lead by moving up the pack on the outside and the front rider should drop back on the inside.
Hand gestures should be used to point out obstacles – potholes, missing iron works, glass etc – remember the followers may not be able to see these so pass the gestures down the line.
Brief verbal signalling can also be used to warn of hazards such as :-
- ‘Out’ or ‘Swing out’ - Usually an obstacle – a car or a slower rider – on the inside of the road, so move over.
- ‘Car Back’ or ‘Single out’ - Usually a car behind, or sometimes a jam ahead. Get into single file.
- ‘ Car Up’ – Car approaching at front.
- ‘Biker up’ – Slow cyclist ahead – be prepared to overtake.
- Right/left/inside’ - A rider behind is coming past, so hold your line.
- ‘Come through’ - Come and take your turn at the front.
- ‘Up’ - Either a late warning of a pothole or obstacle, or a rider wants to slip in front of you.
- ‘Swing up’ or ‘Swing off’ - Swing off the front of the group and let someone else take a turn there.
- ‘Easy’ or ‘Ease up’ - Ease off the pace. Someone is having trouble behind, or a possible hazard has been spotted ahead.
- ‘Rock’ or ‘Hole’ – Hazard on road.
- ‘Walker/runner up’ – Pedestrian ahead.
- ‘Clear’ – when reaching a junction and it is safe to proceed over on onto road.
- ‘Slow’ – Slow down.
- ‘Stop’ – Stop.
- ‘Line out’ or Single File’ – Keep up pace but reposition into single file eg. to pass a parked car.
- For more detail on Group Dynamics, see this excellent article :- http://www.cyclinguk.org/sites/default/files/file_...
- LEADING THE RIDE
- Publish route (Facebook, Whatsapp, Strava) prior to the ride so that members can preview.
- If unable to attend the ride, secure an alternative experienced rider to lead the ride.
- Ensure an experienced rider acts as the sweeper to look after stragglers.
- Introduce yourself and the sweeper to the riders prior to the ride and explain the route and the rest point.
- Speak to any new rider whom you feel may be too inexperienced or too slow for that group – they have the option to stay with the group or select a slower group.
- Ride at a smooth pace similar to the rest of the leading pack but stop occasionally to allow any stragglers (and sweeper) to catch up and get a breather.
- The leader need not necessarily lead from the front, so ask an experienced rider who is familiar with the route to be at the front and use the opportunity to ride with the rest of the pack to assess how they are faring.
- Use open stretches of road to stop as a group – it is dangerous to use road junctions as stopping points (this forces vehicles to overtake at dangerous points).
- As a role model, be considerate and courteous to other road users.
- If any rider is struggling to keep up, offer one of the experienced riders to cycle home with them or let them go home on their own if they wish but ensure they are confident of the route.
- In the event of an accident or incident resulting in injury to a rider/bystander or damage to property during a club ride, the leader must be prepared to complete an accident/incident report form after the ride. This form can be downloaded from the Club web site. The completed report must be submitted to the club secretary as soon as possible.
- The leader’s decision must prevail on decisions relating to changing or shortening the route eg. due to weather, accidents.
- Useful Videos There are numerous good videos on YouTube on Group Riding and Leading eg.:-