Club rides are either social or training rides, not races! Club riding is about working together as a group, aiming to keep an even pace or effort and, where the group has a leader, allowing them to control the group. The etiquette may sound like rules for the sake of rules but these are the basics, which have been developed by cyclists over the years and are the essentials of riding safely together.
The basics of group riding on the road
- A group size should only be the size that the ride leader feels comfortable managing. In addition, there are many variables that should be considered including (but not limited to) road and weather conditions, the competence and experience of the riders, the planned route and so on. Ideally, the maximum total number should be between 10 and 12, with an absolute maximum of 16.
- Hold the wheel in front, aiming to keep a gap of 15-30cms. However, be prepared to leave a bigger gap in wet weather to allow for extra stopping distance. Never overlap the wheel of the rider in front, particularly on the left hand side.
- Usually, when traffic conditions allow, we will ride in TWO LINES in PAIRS.
- You should never ride more than two abreast and try to stay in your pair, which means side to side/parallel to each other. Try to stay close (but not too close) and don’t be afraid to communicate with each other!
- When at the front of the group, allow the rider on the left to set the pace. Stay alongside them, don’t race them (“Half wheeling”).
- You should ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends (“Single out”) and only stop in places considered to be safe to do so.
- Avoid sudden movements, particularly braking or swerving, and always check if there’s room prior to signalling to move out.
- After slowing or stopping, e.g., at junctions, be aware of your position in the group and try to maintain it. If you happen to be riding at the front then pick up speed steadily. When the group is back together the rear-most rider shouts “ALL UP!” Pass this up the line.
Signalling and road hazards
Always make the group aware of changes in speed/direction, traffic or road hazards such as potholes and debris when necessary. Call out clearly and, in larger groups, relay the instruction forward or back so all riders know what is happening.
- From the front of the group: ‘Easy’, ‘Car Down’ (approaching from in front), ‘Under’ (road surface, manhole, etc.) are common warnings,
- From the back of the group: ‘Single Out’, ‘Car Up’ (approaching from behind), “Easy up” or “Off the back” if the group is splitting or someone has been dropped. “Puncture” or “Mechanical” should also be used when required and you must then be prepared to slow and stop in a safe place to allow the group to assist where required and then continue as appropriate.
If you’re not sure of the signalling conventions or have any questions about group riding, please ask the ride leaders before the ride departs. On the ride itself, don’t be afraid to let people know if you are struggling as it is easier for a group to drop the pace slightly and continue together rather than end up with a rider who has rode themselves into the ground and is unable to continue.
Bike maintenance and safety
Helmet use is strongly recommended when riding in groups. In addition, we also advise riders to ensure that they have taken out personal cover for third party liability protection (this may be provided through certain membership levels within BC or the CTC but personal legal cover is not included in your club membership subscription).
Ensure your bike is well maintained and we also recommend, particularly in the Autumn/Winter time, fitting mudguards and lights. So, check brake pads and tyres for signs of wear and that they have the right tyre pressure before setting off. If you are unsure about the safety of your bike, don’t be afraid to ask a ride leader for some informal advice but this is no substitute for having it properly serviced by a qualified mechanic at your local bike shop (club membership gets you some worthwhile discounts in many of the local shops).
Finally, please ensure that you bring essentials with you such as inner tubes and the basic tools (tyre levers and a pump). A mobile phone is also recommended, as is some simple food/drink and money.