Group rides are a great way to mix up your training, meet other cyclists and learn how to ride in close proximity to others to save energy. But to keep the group safe and working smoothly, there are a few unwritten rules cyclists should abide.
To keep from annoying your friends out on the road and do your part within the group, avoid these 10 things whenever you ride with others:
SHOW UP LATE
If the group ride starts at 9 a.m., expect to be ready to ride at that time or 5 minutes earlier. Showing up right at the ride time, when you still have to pump your tires or do last-minute adjustments, is a good way to annoy the group. Instead of making everyone wait, make sure you use common courtesy and show up with enough time to get you and your bike ready before the group rolls.
RIDE TOO HARD AT THE FRONT
Whether you’re new to group riding and want to impress your riding buddies with your fitness or are experienced pressing forward to get a little extra out of your workout, riding too hard when it’s your turn at the front is a no-no. This can break up the group and make it hard for the other riders who may be struggling at the back to maintain contact.
Instead, make sure you keep a consistent pace at the front and don’t up the speed. If you’re feeling particularly good, take a longer pull at the front to get more out of your workout. While hammering others off your wheel won’t get you any high fives, blocking the wind a little longer than normal is a good way to make friends instead of losing them.
RACE A TIMED SEGMENT
A group ride is not the time to move up the leaderboards unless it’s a group planned activity. Rocketing off the front and sprinting down the road without letting the others know your intentions will undoubtedly lead to a few raised eyebrows and unfriendly discussion within the group. For this reason, it’s best to keep the timed segments for your solo riding.
HAVE YOUR OWN TRAINING AGENDA
When riding with a group, keep in mind that personal workout ambitions take a backseat to the overall ride goals of the group. Interval training, cadence drills and other types of training that can disrupt the pace of the group or become dangerous for the riders around you should be avoided. Find out the speed of the group you intend to ride with and follow the behavior of the more experienced riders in the group. Keep your personal training goals for solo training rides or organized rides with a few of your other friends who share similar training goals.
FAIL TO SIGNAL ROAD HAZARDS
If you’re going to go on a group ride, it’s important to know basic hand signals and alert those behind you of an approaching obstacle or hazard. This will help keep you and those behind you safe when the view of the road may be obstructed. Since safety can be a big issue within a group, it’s always important to do your part and not create a dangerous situation for someone else.
READ MORE > 10 CYCLING HAND SIGNALS YOU NEED TO KNOW
IGNORE BASIC GROUP ETIQUETTE
Spitting, half wheeling and stopping unexpectedly can be annoying behaviors that also have the potential to cause an accident within the group. Before you head out for your first group ride, make sure you know basic group ride etiquette so you can ride safely and exhibit common courtesy to your fellow riding partners.
NOT BE PREPARED
Just as you would if you were riding solo, don’t show up for a group ride unprepared to change a flat or without other gear you may need to make it to the end of the ride. Make sure you have enough food, fluids and other protective gear (such as a rain jacket) instead of expecting others to have spares for you in a time of need. Yes, things happen and sharing is nice, but expecting it out of your ride mates should be avoided.
NOT KNOW WHERE TO GO
Maybe you’re not in shape or are just having a bad ride. Whatever the case may be, make sure you know where you’re going just in case you get dropped. Also be aware of re-grouping locations and let another rider know before you decide to fall back. This helps clear up any confusion and keep you from getting lost out on the road.
PICK A GROUP ABOVE YOUR FITNESS LEVEL
Group rides are commonly broken up by fitness level. Larger groups may be broken up into as many as four groups, and are usually organized by the average speed you can maintain for a specified period of time. For your first few group rides, pick a group you know you can hang with. Err on the slower side if you’re on the fence so you don’t end up trying to keep pace with a group hammering at high speeds you may not be able to keep up with. Once you become more comfortable with how far and fast you can ride, you can always move up to the next group later.
SHOW UP WITH THE WRONG BIKE
A time trial bike is a quick way to get shunned from the group. Because you don’t have access to the brake levers in the aero position and these bikes are generally more difficult to handle and don’t climb as well, it can create an unsafe environment. Likewise, if the group is heading off for a long ride on a dirt fire road and you’ve got a road bike with 22mm tires, this can be a problem. Make sure you know the terrain and have a bike suitable for where you’re going. A fixed gear bike on a group ride with a 10-mile climb won’t only cause problems for you, but can make it extremely difficult for everyone to stick together and make it back home safely.