On a road ride we have to share the road with motor vehicles, this should be your first thought before executing any manoeuvre. Road riding is a lot of fun but safety is the first priority, if you see a rider breaking a rule – tell them. Think about how your behaviour is seen by other road users. If you ride responsibly they will likely afford you more respect.
Also remember that if you touch wheels with another rider there is a very good chance that you will bring the whole group down – don’t perform any sudden manoeuvres. Read our guide to riding a paceline – particularly relevant for our weekday evening rides.
Another big no-no is overtaking other riders on the inside (i.e. left-side). They will not expect you to do this and hence a hazardous way to ride.
Whenever riding as a group ideally you should be riding 2 by 2, side by side and be perfectly handlebar to handlebar. There should only a few centimetres between you, you should not be able to fit a bus between you and rider beside you. Keep to the side of the road, there is no need to take over the whole lane and annoy car drivers. Of course there are times when single file is correct and the ride leader or other experienced rider in the group will pass that message around.
Riding with your bars ahead of the rider beside you is called “half-wheeling” and is a major faux pas. It’s up to you to keep with the speed of the slower rider next to you. This way of riding is exactly what Ride Leader training advocates and though that may seem against your instincts is the safest way to ride and less obtrusive to other road users. In effect a group size of 16 max riding in this correct manner is much more visible to drivers and encourages them to afford a safe approach to overtaking. Sometimes it may not be possible for a motor vehicle to overtake, in such instances you should hold your ground and not encourage them to squeeze past until a safe place on the road appears. Better a driver held up for 30 seconds or so then cause injury by doing so
Obstacles and Hand Signals
Potholes should be signalled by pointing briefly to the offending item. This signal should be repeated by the following line of riders; otherwise the next rider will hit the hole. But please, don’t point out every item on the road; you don’t need to signal every manhole cover. An obstacle worth pointing out is one that will damage a bike or person behind you. If you only see a pothole at the last minute, ride through it and then apologise! It’s better to get a puncture than to take down the whole group!
A Quick Shout
A lot of our road riding is done on narrow lanes. In these circumstances it is necessary to warn of on-coming vehicles with a shout of “CAR”. It is also useful to receive warning of cars approaching from behind with a cry of “CAR BACK” from riders at the rear of the group so that the riders at the front are aware.
Often it will be necessary for the group to form in one single line to prevent holding-up following traffic or when it is not safe to ride 2-abreast. This instruction should be signalled with the shout of “LINE” and riders on the inside row should gradually leave a bikes-length between themselves and the rider in front to allow the rider alongside them to move into the line. This should be done with great care and with no sudden movements or braking.
Clear the Road
On some rides it is necessary to stop and allow everyone to regroup. Please make sure that you are at the side of the road and don’t impede other road users. Same goes for the meeting point.