You’ve read our blog on what group riding is all about, now check out the key principles to good group riding.
Safety is Paramount
For group riding to work properly, safety is paramount. You are all responsible for your own safety, but remember that there’s a group around you so you’re also responsible for the safety of each other. You should always be thinking about the whole group when making any decisions on the bike.
- Be predictable – don’t make any sudden movements such as braking sharply, stopping pedalling or veering drastically off your line. Any sudden movements will lead to a ricochet of reactions down the group behind you with people needing to adjust their speed, cadence or line to make sure they don’t run into the person in front of them.
- Go gently on the brakes, don’t grab them suddenly and sharply. If you’re looking ahead of you and anticipating the road conditions, it’s rare that you will need to stop suddenly. Sit more upright to take the wind or brake lightly to adjust speed gradually rather than pulling sharply on the brakes. In the event you do need to brake suddenly (maybe a squirrel runs out into the road in front of you) be sure to shout ‘stopping’ just before you brake to let the group know what you’re doing.
- Stay relaxed on the bike. Relaxed posture allows you to ride smoothly, stay steady and hold your line. Generally when riding in a group you will relax as you’ll be chatting as you ride.
- Ride with a nice steady cadence (leg speed) – this is part of being predictable. The person behind you can judge your speed and any changes in speed via the visual guide of your leg speed. If you suddenly stop pedalling for any reason, your speed drops which can cause a chain reaction down the group.
- When you’re riding on a wheel, look ahead, don’t fixate on the wheel in front of you. This allows you to be aware of what’s coming up further down the road (traffic lights, junctions, parked cars etc) and anticipate any actions the group may need to take to avoid hazards. That way there won’t be any surprises when the call comes from the front of the group to slow, stop or change direction.
- Don’t overlap wheels. This is when your front wheel is overlapping the back wheel of the person in front of you, instead of being behind their wheel. This is potentially dangerous to you as the person in front may swerve to avoid a hazard or have a lapse in concentration causing them to move slightly off their line and take your wheel out. If someone takes your front wheel out, it’s hard to recover and often ends up with you hitting the deck. Always stay directly behind the wheel of the person in front of you.
- Cover the brakes at all times, even when taking one hand off, the other hand should be covering the brakes just in case something happens and you need to use your brake to adjust your speed.
- If you aren’t confident drinking and eating on the bike, use the opportunity when you’re at the back of the group to do it. That way, if you do stop pedalling you won’t disrupt the group or potentially cause an accident.
Communication is Key
Communication is key in group riding and you should know what and how to communicate to the group. Check out our blog on hand signals and verbal signals for group riding to give you all the details on communication.
The most basic principles are that when you’re riding at the front of the group, one of your responsibilities is to point out any hazards to the group behind. Verbal and physical signals should always be repeated by everyone so they are passed back down the group. Speak clearly, but don’t shout. It can be disconcerting if there’s a lot of shouting in a group and can come across as quite aggressive! If you aren’t comfortable taking your hands off the bars, or if you can’t for any reason, then call clearly (hole, left/hold right for example).
When you’re at the back of the group, listen for cars approaching from the rear and glance behind you to check every now and again. Call out to the group if you need to single up to allow the car to pass, or if the road is wide and there is enough room for the car to pass, let the group know by calling ‘car back’.
Riding Two Abreast
Often a bone of contention on the roads in the UK, cycling two abreast is perfectly legal. In fact it’s encouraged as it’s often safer to do so and can discourage drivers from trying to overtake when there isn’t a safe passing distance to do so.
The new text in the Highway Code provides clarity on cycling two abreast. Quoting Rule 154 – “When meeting groups of cyclists riding two abreast, they may choose to move to single file if they deem it safer to do so. They are under no compulsion to do so and it can be safer and easier for you to overtake a compact group, when conditions allow, rather than a longer line of cycles.”
Remember these are guidelines, so use your common sense. When riding on narrow or busy roads, it’s advisable to ride single file, and never cycle more than two abreast.
Check out our blog on the recent updates to the Highway Code which cover riding two abreast and other key guidelines on riding on the roads in the UK.