Riding in a group for the first time in several months means brushing up on our group riding etiquette. Here are a few basics to bear in mind when cycling with others.
Speed and pace
Whether you are riding with friends or a cycling club, for a good day out for everyone there needs to be some general consensus over speed and pace. A ride that is so fast you struggle to keep up is no fun.
After lockdown there is likely to be an even broader range of fitness than is usual in the spring. Some people will have trained more than ever. With the popularity of Zwift for indoor cycling fitness, more free time because of furlough or less commuting, some people will be emerging into the spring light in the fitness form of their lives! Others will have struggled with a huge amount of work, home schooling, illness or anxiety so will probably be feeling a little slow and sluggish.
Pick a group that is the right speed for you, be honest with yourself and your friends about how fit you are feeling. If you are one of the people who has lost fitness don’t worry, it will come back fast once you get back into regular rides.
When you ride with others you all share responsibility for the safety of everyone in the group. From pointing out potholes to checking junctions or the way you ride, it’s important to remember your actions will influence those around you.
With all the solo riding during lockdown we have become very used to being on our own and only watching out for our own safety, but now is the time to get back to the good habits of pointing out hazards and communicating actions ahead of time.
Even with social distancing rules of one metre everyone will be riding very close together so suddenly braking, swerving around a pothole or accelerating will affect those riding behind. This excellent video is a great refresher in how to let riders around you know what is happening on the road ahead of them.
You started together, you finish together – this is the number one rule of group rides. If for some reason the pace or the choice of route isn’t working out for you let other people know that you are leaving the group. A club that advertises a ‘no-drop’ ride will most likely change the speed, or designate a rider to finish with you so that you are not on your own.
A few clubs still operate a more ruthless approach to group riding, and those who get dropped from the back are left to finish alone. Personally, we’ll be avoiding these until we are significantly fitter and have spent a bit more time riding in a group again! It is always more fun when the pace is sociable and the conversation flowing freely. Who wants to go on a ride where the pace is so high you can’t chat? After all it is human contact and group fun we have all been missing this past year.
How did your first group ride of 2021 go? Did you find your skills a bit rusty? Share your stories on our Facebook page.