When you ride in group, you ride two abreast, keeping close to the person to our side, ensuring that we are taking up the minimum amount of space on the path. Remember that you may be required to over-take slower riders and you can expect to see other riders coming towards you, so keep to the right of the path and do not ride on/across the yellow line. Make sure your handlebars are always level with the person next to you. This is especially important when you are on the front, as YOU are setting the level for the rest of the group.
ROTATION ON FRONT OF THE GROUP
Each row of the pack will take a turn on the front. The time spent at the front is determined by the weather conditions (shorter turns are taken when riding in to the wind) and by the experience and strength of the pair of riders on the front. If you do not know the person you are riding next to, make sure that you communicate when you are ready to roll off. Do not wait until you are over-tired as you need to maintain a steady pace. When you have agreed an appropriate moment, the front two riders will peel off – the rider to the left goes left, the rider to the right goes right.
When you are ready to rotate
- Rider on the left should check behind to make sure nobody is over-taking.
- Make sure that there is no oncoming riders; or if they are in the far distance, that you have enough time and space to get to the back of the pack long before you meet them. There’s nothing worse than being faced with riders coming at you four across!
- Signal a rider change, by drawing circles with your finger where the riders behind can see it. DON’T STOP PEDALLING! Accelerate for a couple of rotations to take you forward and away safely from the pack before you freewheel to the back of the pack. This clears your back wheel and allows you to move across safely without taking out the person behind you!
- The riders at the back of the group call out “LAST RIDER” or “LAST WHEEL” as they come through, so that you can start pedalling up again to slot on to the back of the group. No-one likes to have to sprint to catch the tail after a turn on the front.
- If you are in the second row from the front – DO NOT ACCELERATE through the middle of the rotating pair. MAINTAIN THE SPEED. Keep it steady to prevent the pack from surging and slowing. REMEMBER: BE SMOOTH & PREDICTABLE.
DO NOT rotate off the front of the pack when:
- You can see other riders ahead of you. You do not want to be 4 abreast when passing other cyclists.
- There is visible obstruction covering half of the path – a sandbank for instance. You need to ensure that the whole pack can pass safely.
- You are half way up a hill – it makes it very difficult to catch back on to the tail of the group.
- DO NOT OVER DO YOUR TIME ON THE FRONT! There is absolutely no shame in taking a short turn on the front until your strength and stamina increases. Don’t wait until you are over-tired before you rotate, or you won’t have enough left to accelerate clear of the group before falling back.
- If you are on the front of the pack when you spot another rider, ensure that you call out to alert the pack behind you. YOU are the packs eyes and ears at the front.
VERBAL SIGNALS AND WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU HEAR THEM:
This indicates rider/s approaching from the other direction – the front riders will check that there are no obstructions ahead of you on the path (a sand bank, or a slower rider, for example). If the path is clear, continue two abreast, but keeping as far to the right of the path as you can, to ensure that you can pass safely. If there is an obstruction, the front riders may call “SINGLE” and hold up one finger. This indicates that the pack should move in to single file so that all riders can pass safely and avoid the obstacle. They will also use the hand signal to move out if there is an obstacle to pass. The hand signals for this can be found in our other document “Hand Signals & Hazards”
This means that the pack is approaching rider/s that are travelling at a slower speed than the bunch that you are in. The lead riders of your group will take the decision whether it is safe to pass so look and listen for the instructions given above.
ALWAYS PASS THE SIGNAL BACK TO THE REST OF THE GROUP. THE PERSON BEHIND YOU IS RELYING ON YOU!
Tip 1: Be Smooth and Predictable
- No sudden accelerations or slowdowns!
- If a gap opens in front of you, try to close it gradually
- Sharp braking should be used ONLY in emergencies
- Do not move out to pass the rider in front of you without checking to be sure that you don’t have another rider in your ‘blind spot’ (coming up behind you on the left)
- Riders should verbally communicate upcoming stop signs: “SLOWING”, “STOPPING”
Tip 2: Communicate
- Hand signals and verbal signals
- Right turn, left turn
- Slowing, stopping
- Pointing at obstacles and calling them out (you need to point before going by the obstacle or you are not giving the rider behind you enough warning)
- Move over for obstacles ahead (example, “Rider up”)
Tip 3: If you’re getting too close to the rider ahead
- Shift into an easier gear
- Soft pedal
- Sit up higher to catch more of the wind
- Move over slightly to catch more of the wind (but don’t overlap your front wheel with the next rider’s back wheel, and again, watch out to be sure there is not a rider coming from behind who you would be cutting off)
- Try not to coast – when the riders behind you see you coasting, they will slow down too and cause an accordion effect
- If all of the above do not slow you down enough, feather your brakes while gently pedalling.
- It’s sometimes better to roll over minor obstacles like shallow sand or sticks than to make a sudden move over or slam on your brakes.
Tip 4: Let other riders know when you are passing them
Always pass on the left, give them plenty of room, so don’t pass too close and never cut in straight away. You should give them a bike and half’s length before moving back in front of them. If you are on the front, make sure you have let the whole group get clear of the passed rider before you roll off the front.
Tip 5: Be a “steady wheel”
When you’ve been on a few group rides, there will always be someone that you prefer riding behind. This is because they are a steady wheel – they ride safely and predictably and don’t take both hands off to have a stretch or wobble about when they take a drink. Aim to be that steady wheel for someone else.
Tip 6: Hills
- The front pair need to maintain the same EFFORT at the bottom of the hill all the way up. No attacking or sprinting. Try to keep the whole group together. Riders behind need to respect the pace of the front pair, no overtaking.
- The front pair must keep pedalling on downhills, or else this causes a problem for the riders behind that are catching their draft, causing them to brake and resulting in a knock on effect for everyone behind.
- Be careful when standing to climb when riding in a group – this can jerk your wheel back into the rider behind you (ALWAYS give a verbal signal – “Standing”)
Tip 7: Do not use aerobars when in a group
You need to have good control of your bike and have your brakes within close reach. You should always keep one hand on your bars. You may think it looks cool to ride no hands, but it is not big and it’s not clever.