A5 Rangers Cycling Club - advice on riding with a group.
- Get more enjoyment from cycling by riding with other people. Cycling with a group is one of the most enjoyable ways of seeing your area and getting healthy exercise. You can also get good advice riding with a group and this is a great way of picking up tips and perhaps second hand equipment. Your group leader is usually a volunteer who has offered to share their local knowledge and cycling experience; please follow their advice and instructions for everyone’s enjoyment. Look for the ride that suits your fitness level and before starting the ride sign in to give the leader your name and emergency contact details.
- Keep to the rules of the road and countryside when riding. You are still responsible for yourself even in a group. The leader can offer directions and advice but is not responsible for you knowing and following the requirements of the Highway Code and Countryside Code. However as a club with identifiable distinctive clothing we are also judged on what the public see us doing.
- Make sure your bike is ready for the ride. Have mudguards fitted for your comfort and the people behind you. Carry at least a spare inner tube, pump, tyre levers and make sure your bike is in good working order. However in an organised group such as the A5 Rangers no one will ever be left behind to fend for themselves.
- Be prepared. A ride may stop at a cafe so bring some money with you. However also carry a drink and some food with you. As most rides continue regardless of weather, it is advisable to dress appropriately. Cycling specific clothing is not necessary but will help you to ride more comfortably and safely. The wearing of a helmet however is recommended. Carry a waterproof /windproof jacket on all but the very best of days. Carry some form of identification and your mobile phone.
- If you have to leave the group. Please notify the leader if you intend to leave the group as a sudden disappearance will bring a halt to the group; someone may turn back to look for you and a phone call may be made to your given emergency number.
- Riding in close proximity to other cyclists takes practice. Relax and enjoy the company but always allow for others in front and behind. Riding as a close group allows for easy conversation and takes best advantage of the slipstream effect from front riders thus saving your energy. Avoid overlapping your front wheel with someone else’s back wheel as a change in their direction may bring you down and also those following you. Also avoid being too close and in-line with rider’s wheel in front of you. Instead ride slightly to the side and behind them.
- The group riding pattern is normally in pairs. This is sociable and keeps the group together. Single file is courteous and safer on some roads. The Highway Code specifically allows cyclists to ride two abreast but as in most things common sense should be used. Never ride three abreast.
- Avoid sudden movements; look and let others know before you change speed or direction. Group riding can be very safe especially if some simple rules are followed. When an accident happens a common cause is a sudden stop. For example, if you get a puncture shout out “PUNCTURE” and slowly pull over to the nearside. Even if you drop something or have a mechanical problem take your time. The whole group will stop with you anyway. If you are at the back let someone else know before you stop. It can be surprising how quickly the group moves on.
- Everyone in the group helps the others know of hazards such as potholes, gravel, changes in riding pattern and cars coming by. Established groups develop calls and hand signals that they use regularly. Everyone in the group should pass on a signal, such as pointing down to a pothole, to make sure it travels the full length of the group. Only the front riders get a clear view of road defects, parked cars etc so it is vital that they give clear indications in plenty of time to those behind.
- Always assist other group members if possible. One of the purposes of group cycling is to learn more about the pastime. It is also the way a less experienced rider can be sure of support if they have problems. The whole group should be supportive to all riders. Conversely experienced riders should not bombard the newcomer with advice!
- The group always re-forms if it splits, for example on hills or at a road junction. Even groups of similar abilities easily get separated. Everyone climbs hills at a different pace and the whole of a group may not be able to cross a junction at once. It is usual to find a place to stop where the group can re-form away from traffic. On a hill it is usual to wait at the top if it is safe to do so.
- Keep with the group. Don’t overtake and ride well ahead of the group leader unless you are willing to take responsibility for your navigation. The group leader is not obliged to chase after people who miss a turning in this way.
Now the most important advice - Enjoy the day.