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Basics of Group Riding

Warmer weather has finally thawed out most of the U.S., and more people are heading out on bike rides. As someone who has ridden a few years on the road, I’ve noticed some of the dangerous things newer riders do to enhance the danger.

Image courtesy of Fotoreporter Sirotti

Image courtesy of Fotoreporter Sirotti

To help out, here is a recent article that discusses a couple of basics group riders should be familiar with. I’d like to add a couple of things to the BikeRadar article.  These tips are for people who may be content with just sitting in the group.

  • Call out road hazards — This is a very important one, especially for newer riders. You have to learn what signals the riders in the group use, so you’ll be able to relay the message. If traveling on a busy street, the use of signs and basic communication can help prevent unnecessary hazards in the group.
  • Intersections — Intersections can be extremely dangerous for large groups of riders. While approaching, someone near the front of the group should yell “slowing” or “stopping” before stopping at the intersection. Once it’s clear to go (presumably after a green light), the first riders in the group call out “clear” to let everyone know it’s safe.Riding towards the front of the group will allow you a better chance of avoiding danger — but it’s unlikely an experienced group will allow newer riders at the front. It’s likely natural selection will occur, and the faster, more experienced riders will be at the front.
  • Pass on the left — Only pass on another rider’s left hand side! Riders who are familiar with one another may pass on the right, but it’s rarely okay to try and do this in a large group. Passing on the left is especially important if you don’t call out to the person ahead of you that you’re going to roll by.
  • Don’t be Rude — If you end up on someone’s wheel and plan to stay there, say hello or announce yourself. It’s rude to just draft off someone without saying hello (or taking a turn at the front). I usually just turn myself inside out to try and crack the person who didn’t say hello — but rude cyclists may give you a Cytomax bath, so just avoid the situation entirely.(There is an exception if you’re clearly suffering and don’t have the energy to come to the front and say hello.)

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