The following is intended for beginner riders or for those who are perhaps less familiar with riding within a group. The advice here is to aid you whilst riding with our club and to help ensure the safety of you and the entire group.
There are three main rules for group riding:
- Don’t do anything sudden.
- Never break the first two rules (unless there is immediate and real danger).
With that said, riding in a group is fun and is one of the more rewarding things about riding with a club. It would be nice to think that there’s a perfect group ride waiting to happen to some club at some time, but the reality is the group will surge, gap and split as the dynamics change throughout the ride. The group will come back together at the next junction or top of a hill. It’s just the way it is.
With Caerphilly Cycling Club you will learn to:
- Not break hard or change direction suddenly in a group.
- Ride side by side (two abreast) in a tight group and to single out when the command is given.
- Not to overlap your front wheel with the rider in front. It only takes a quick touch of wheels and you are going down.
- Hold your line in a corner. If you’re creeping up on the rider in front then a quick shout to let them know you’re there is a great idea. A simple ‘On your left’ or similar is fine and gets the point across quickly.
Communication is critical. Typical things you’ll hear and find yourself repeating are:
- Car up – A car is approaching and the group needs to be aware of it. This is useful when riding in country lanes for instance.
- Car back – A car needs to pass the group and the riders need to tuck in to make room
- Clear – Used at junctions to indicate the group is clear to go through
- Stopping/Slowing – Uh, we’re stopping or slowing
- Chain/Puncture – If you’re chain drops or you puncture then shout this out, raise your hand if you can. The group will fan out to avoid you.
- Pointing – There are a selection of hand gestures used to point out hazards in the road and to move the group around obstacles like parked cars and other riders that we’re over taking.
With more experience you will learn to:
- Take your turn at the front
- Follow the wheel in front and not let gaps open in the group
- Not let the bike slide back when standing up
- Push through the top of climbs
- Not shout ‘Car up’ for every car you see and not point out every road imperfection to other riders. It’s better to communicate too much than too little though. One of the regulars is sure to ask you to rein it in a bit if you’re going a bit Brian Blessed on us.
One final note, if you’re struggling on a ride then there’s no shame in admitting it and speaking up. Every rider was a newbie at some point or can have an off day. We don’t want you to be so tired after a ride that you don’t want to come out with us again.
Here’s a simple video explaining communication within a group: