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 minimum age for a rider to attend a club ride is 14 and before they join a club ride, they must have had completed by their Parent or Guardian the clubs ‘Parent Consent Form (PCF)’ and submitted this Form to the club Chairman or Road Captain. This applies between the age Group 14 to 18 years.
The PCF can be downloaded from the following link: 22.4.19 C&CCC Parental Consent (updated)
The basics of group riding on the road
- Please introduce yourself to the ride leader for your group, and where possible carry personal ID in case of an emergency. You are encouraged to speak to other riders in your group and are required to ride sensibly and considerately at all times.
- A group size should only be no bigger than 12, as this allows for a couple of riders to be picked up on route who may have dropped back from the group in front. 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. This is designed to reduce the length a vehicle needs to overtake. It also prevents, a vehicle trying to squeeze up the middle into incoming traffic and forcing a single rider into the gutter.
- Where the road width dictates and there is a large group, please provide good gaps between small groups to allow vehicles to overtake part of the group and pull into the space allocated. The vehicle can then overtake when it is safe to do so.
- 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.
- If there is a rider between the age of 14 and 18 and they have a Parent or Guardian with them, then please be aware of their presence and if an incident arises during the ride, which involves them, you stop, call the ride leader and assist them. NO ONE is left behind. If the U18 does not have a Parent or Guardian with them (not permitted normally) as they have permission to ride from the ride leader, then the group must stop, assess the situation and at least ONE adult rider (or two if the adults requests it) remains and assists the U18 to ensure they are returned safely to their home. If an accident has occured, then the emergency services are called and the U18 is only left when the emmergency services take over. If emergency first aid can be applied then this should be administered as with any club members.
- Any accident involving a rider or third party must be reported, via completion of an Incident Report from the clubs website. This report can be filled in by any rider witnessing the incident, should the ride leader not witness or be available: www.cheltenhamandcounty.cc/members/incident-report/
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.
For further information on cycle etiquette and best practice, please follow this link to the British Cycling Website:
Bike maintenance and safety
The wearing of a good quality helmet is strongly recommended when riding in groups. In addition, we also advise riders to ensure that they have taken out Third Party Liability Insurance, as no such insurance is provided by the club for ordinary club members, other than if a club member is leading the group or acting on behalf of the club in a designated role. This insurance is generally purchased from British Cycling or Cycling UK.
Ensure your bike is well maintained and road worthy and during the Autumn/Winter periods, we require riders to fit mudguards and lights. Please check brake pads and tyres regularly for signs of wear and that they have the recommended 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. With the rising popularity of mapping devices like Garmin, it is now easier to download and follow routes. You should not however, rely on this as your only means of getting home. You should check out the route before you ride so you have a rough idea where you are going and make sure you have the latest version, as they are updated to reflect the road conditions.