Group Riding...by Pod
There are four essential factors for safe and efficient group riding - consistent pace, a smooth pedalling rhythm, straight line riding and communication. When riding as a group, riders will undertake different roles within the pack, such as, following, leading and riding side by side. To ensure safety when riding as a group, there are a number of techniques you need to apply.
- Maintain a steady pace, feathering (covering and gently pulling) the brakes when necessary - do not snatch or brake suddenly.
- Look ahead for obstacles, obstructions and hazards - warn others behind in the group.
- Signal when slowing down, stopping or changing direction.
- Keep between a bike's length to 15cm away from the rider in front. Move closer as confidence and ability improves.
- Never over lap the wheel of the rider in front.
- Watch over the shoulder of the rider in front in anticipation for changes in speed, direction or hazards never just focus on the rider's wheel in front.
Riding next to another rider
- Always keep the bike upright and maintain a straight linie of travel.
- Start riding one metre apart getting closer as your confidence improves.
- Avoid edging ahead of the rider next to you.
Pace setting / judgement
- Maintain the same pace as other riders, especially if the leaders change position. If required, increase speed gradually or to lower the pace, feather the brakes.
- Use hand signals and verbal communication with other riders within the group.
- Ensure the group undersatnds any signals to be used.
- It's good etiquette to warn riders behind you of potential hazards or obstacles such as pointing out potholes - signalling behind your back to warn following rider of a change of direction, such as manoeuvring around a parked car. Just simply pointing in the direction change behind your back for the following rider to see - mechanical problems, punctures for example, the rider would announce the problem and extend their arm in the air.
- Changes in direction should be smooth.
- Always be observant. If changing direction, check for other riders around you.
- Try to relax while riding the bike. keep your hand positions on the extremities of the handle bars, on the hoods/shifters on a road bike and on the outer hand grips on a straight bar.
- have a slight bend at the elbow pointing away from you giving that little extra bit of space.
- Keep your head up.
- Never be afraid to call forward if the pace becomes difficult or gaps form, to maintain the formation.
- It's better to maintain close formation since riding as a group also adds shelter from the elements - head winds for example
- keeping a group together will help to prevent drivers cutting into fragmented packs of riders.
- It always goes down well with motorists who may have to be patient while waiting for an opportunity to pass for the riders at the tail of the group to acknowledge them. A waved thanks is normally all that's required.