With the days getting longer and the cycling season fast approaching, more and more people are getting off the turbo and on to the road- making the chance of riding in a big group ever more likely. With this in mind, here are a few tips to keep yourself (and everyone around you) safe on the road, and make the ride an enjoyable one…
This is the most important rule to follow when you’re riding in a group. “Half-wheeling” basically means overlapping your front wheel with the rear wheel of the rider in front of you, and if they move sideways then your front wheel is the first thing they’ll hit- taking you down as well as everyone behind you. The real danger of half wheeling is that you’re essentially sat in the “blind spot” of the rider in front, and unless they really twist round to look behind then they won’t know you’re there…
Point out obstacles in the road
Whether it’s a verbal warning or a hand gesture, let the riders around you know of any obstructions in the road. Swerving around a pothole is no good if the next rider goes straight into it, and road furniture such as traffic islands and speed humps can be equally hazardous.
Each group has its own different shout for cars, but “car forward” and “car back” are pretty universal. If you are riding on a narrow stretch of road, it is common etiquette to ride in single file so cars can overtake.
Stick to the Highway Code
You might not be a motorized vehicle, but if you’re using the roads then you need to stick to the highway code. Ride (at maximum) two abreast where it is safe to do so, and obey red lights and right-of-way rules at junctions.
If you’re riding abroad, for example in Mallorca or the Alps, make sure there aren’t any rules that are unique to that country. In France, lights are compulsory in poor weather, and Alberto Contador was once infamously stopped by police whilst descending the Col du Galibier with no lights on his bike…
Descend in single file
While I’m on the subject of descending, I’ll quickly cover two of my key rules; descend in single file, and leave a decent gap between yourself and the rider in front. Descending in single file gives each rider their own choice of line down the road, allowing everyone some room for error, and also to avoid any muddy or mossy patches that are so common in on tree covered descents. Leaving some space is also key, as if the rider in front of you overshoots a corner or comes off their bike, it gives you time to act accordingly; remember, braking distances can be significantly longer downhill, especially in the wet.
Don’t let down the guy with a puncture
If you’re riding without the luxury of a support car and someone punctures, don’t leave them on a roadside. Make sure a few riders stay with them while they repair the puncture, and get the lead group to slow down so that the chasing group can catch back up. Leave a rider at every junction you turn at to point the chasing group in the right direction, and the ride will eventually come back together.
If it’s a more serious problem that won’t be a roadside repair, for example a snapped mech hanger, make sure that the rider has a way of getting home before you continue your ride. Carrying some cash and a mobile phone is highly advisable.