If you plan on going for a group ride and you’re all brushed up on the group riding skills you’ll need, the next thing you’ll need to know about is the etiquette that will be expected of you while you ride. Most riders will expect you to know these things unless you are a brand new cyclist. That being said here’s the dos and don’ts of group riding.
The Golden Rule
Ride like the person you would like to be riding behind. This isn’t just about being kind and courteous. This is also about maintaining good skills such as how to drop back or move forward in a paceline. You’ll also want to maintain good safety precautions by warning others about debris on the road, sharp turns or any other sort of upcoming danger. Never assume that everyone sees what you can see. It’s good group riding etiquette to watch out for other riders and communicate it to them via hand signals or hand signals and verbal.
The Over Reactor
In a group there is always that guy… that guy that seems to overreact to each little situation. Someone stops pedaling in front of him and he slams on his brakes instead of stopping pedaling as well creating an unnecessarily large gap, then hammers back on the pedals again to catch up only to slow too much again. If you are that guy, stop it, if you see that guy in a group… make sure you are ahead of him as he will waste not only his energy but yours as well.
The Obnoxious Warm-Up Rider
During a group ride the first 10-15 minutes is for warm up. Don’t blast off the front and stretch the group out immediately. Nor should you pedal hard to the front then stop pedaling to drop to the pack just to blast back to the front. Calm down, take a position and if you need more effort to warm up properly try a higher cadence or standing up. Perhaps you can start a minute or two later than the group and catch up.
Similarly on a track, if you have a race, do not warm up on the track just before your race time. Many races have multiple events during the day and for all you know the stretch of track you’re warming up on is still an active race zone and you’ll likely be in someone’s way. If you need to get to know the track, the best time would be before the race is set up or early that day before the first event.
The Cut Off
When you go into the corner of a race, pick a line and stick with it. The last thing you want to be is that biker who cut off another and caused a crash. However, be aware that skilled racers can take on lines and work their way into spots that others will find difficult or even terrifying. Only do what you know you are skilled enough to do; the race itself is not the time to work on building your skills. That’s what training is for.
The Fast One
So you are the fast one, most of the group already knows, you don’t need to prove it every group ride. Don’t blast off the front and break the group up in the middle of the ride – no one likes a showoff. Try to keep the same pace the group was holding before you got a turn pulling on the front. Perhaps ride at the back of the pack with a nice gap so you don’t get any benefits of drafting so you still get your workout in.
The Late One
When you sign up for a group race either for fun or for a race, always be prepared. This means that you need to have your registration in days early and you need to have all the supplies you’ll need for the ride. If you’re going on a long ride don’t show up late without all the water, food, and other supplies you need. Plan ahead and leave early in case traffic gets in your way.
The Sudden Stopper
If you see something in the middle of the road never slam on your brakes unless it is life or death, you run the risk of causing other riders to crash. This is as much a safety concern as it is an etiquette problem. If you have time give a hand signal of “stopping” and yell stopping. If you don’t have time for a hand signal, have the decency to yell stopping as you are doing it. Try and slow down as slowly as you are able to give riders behind you time to react.
The Silent Swerver
Less heard of than the sudden stopper but equally as deadly the silent swerver sees an obstacle in the road, does not point it out and then at the last second swerves around it leaving the cyclist behind running right into the obstacle. Be kind and point out the obstacle well in advance, take a position to the left or to the right as early as possible so other cyclists are able to see what danger is coming.
The Uninvited Drafter
This doesn’t necessarily apply to racing but to riding in large groups of people that you may not know. In a more relaxed setting, you should never draft someone you don’t know without their permission. Not only is it rude but it can actually be a little creepy. If someone does this to you, remind them that it’s common biker courtesy to ask permission first.
The dos and don’ts of group riding are not that hard to follow. If you’re new to riding in groups let your fellow riders know so they won’t take offense to your mistakes. Most people will be glad to watch your back and help you learn the rules you need to know.