HOORAY! Daylight Saving Time is just around the corner. March 11th will ring in the new riding season. NWA has over 50 organized group rides per week and I am certain that number will continue to grow this year. We’ve already been receiving emails with ride information.
As road cyclists some of us have been stuck by ourselves on our trainers all winter. Some of us are in shape and some of us (like me) are out of shape. Group rides can be a bit sketchy at first. There are many variables that impact riders on any given group ride, on any given day. Here are our top go-to tips before jumping in the local road rides this season.
Be On Time – If new to the group, get there in advance and try to meet some folks. Always be prepared to start on time. Don’t expect the group to wait.
Do The Research – Knowledge of what kind of group ride it is can make or break your expectations. Ask members of the group to describe the ride. Group rides range from “No Drop” social or beginner rides to “Drops Likely” competitive advanced rides. Know what you are getting into.
Communication – Point Out Hazards – It is important while riding at the front of a group to point out rocks, potholes, road kill etc. It is equally important for members of the group to pass this information along so that it makes it all the way to the back. It also works from the back to the front. Often times when a car is passing it is helpful to say “coming around.” This helps the group not be startled. Especially if a rider is drifting to the back near the center-line.
It Is Not All About You – When riding in a group the group is moving along working together to get from point A to point B. When done properly it is a beautiful thing. It is important to remember that your actions impact others in the group.
Easy On The Brakes – Less Is More – It is important NOT to have “knee-jerk responses” while riding in a group. Do not pull hard on the brakes. This will cause a ripple effect in the group and inevitably someone will crash. It is also important to not swerve erratically. Any sudden movements could cause others to go down. Keep your cool.
Keep Your Eyes Forward – Looking around and especially looking behind you can cause you to swerve, make sudden movements and potentially allow your front wheel to overlap others. There is nothing of major importance to the group unless you’re the one at the rear.
Protect Your Front Wheel – Overlapping front wheels is one of the most basic rules when riding in a group. Proper etiquette is to be six inches over and six inches back from the rear wheel in front of you. This way if a rider in front makes a sudden movement, then your wheel is not swept out from under you which in turn can cause more riders to crash.
Eat & Drink In the Back – If you are not very good at eating and drinking on the bike while in a group then you should rotate to the back. If a bottle is jettisoned or if you swerve while trying to get your food from the jersey pocket it can cause a accident. By doing this at the back of the group you are limiting the risks.
Obey The Rules Of The Road – Look people I know this is hard for many cyclists (self included), if you are running stop signs/lights or echeloning across center or anything else that breaks traffic laws it just looks bad for all cyclists. Don’t give motorists more reasons to not like us.
Keep An Open Mind – If you are new to group rides be open to what others have to say. Heck, you should even tell someone that you are new and looking for help. Most experienced riders are very concerned about safety for the group and themselves. So ask and be willing to listen and modify your riding.
We know there are a lot more helpful tips out there. Leave a comment below. We might even add them to this list.