Ride like a Renegade
Kate's Group riding skills and etiquette
• Before you arrive for the ride, please ensure your bike is roadworthy and that you have everything you need for the ride - puncture repair kit, inner tubes, tools, lights, weather-appropriate kit, money, food and drink, etc.
• Please arrive at the departure point at least 5 minutes prior to the advertised ride start time – “wheels rolling” means just that, we will be departing promptly!
• Cycle a maximum of two abreast in close parallel lines where appropriate; focus on keeping it neat and tidy. Do not whip around the outside of the pack to get to the front unless in an emergency, instead call up through the pack if you need to relay a message to the front.
• Ride with approx. 1ft between your front wheel and the back wheel of the rider in front. There should also be approx. 1ft between your shoulders and the rider beside you. Do not “half-wheel” the rider to your side – this means you should ride with your front wheel in line with theirs, NOT slightly ahead. If you accidentally bump into each other when riding side by side, you will simply bump shoulders. If you are half wheeling someone you are likely to tangle handlebars and arms, and this could cause an accident with the safety of the whole group at risk. In addition, ride directly behind the wheel of the rider in front of you. If you cycle in the middle of the two wheels in front of you, you WILL push the cyclist on your outside into the path of passing vehicles.
• Be prepared on small or busy roads to ride in single file – the rider at the front should shout “single up” when this is necessary. If you need to single up, the rider on the outside should move ahead of the rider on the inside. If you remember this, it should be a quick and seamless transition and should avoid time wasted with “after yous”!
• Lead cyclists must navigate and point out hazards in the road by either shouting or using hand signals – a list of common signals and calls can be found below, please familiarise yourself with these.
• Listen to and act on other riders’ signals and calls, DON’T look around to check for yourself as you will move off your line and may cause an accident. Most importantly, repeat the signals and calls for the cyclist behind you. Be aware that the rider next to you may need to move into your space to avoid a hazard, even if it doesn't affect you. Keep an eye out for hazards and signalling across the whole road, not just on your line, and be prepared to move to allow your fellow rider to avoid them.
• Don’t pull out at junctions without looking, even if you have heard the “Clear” call from a fellow cyclist. Check whether there is a vehicle coming yourself.
• Avoid braking as much as possible when riding in a group. Instead, adjust your speed by pedalling more slowly. If you do have to brake, do so as gently and smoothly as you safely can – remember that you have another rider 1 ft from your back wheel who will not know you intend to brake! If you have to brake suddenly try to remember to shout “slowing” or “stopping”, to warn those behind.
• If you are at the back of the group and either see someone dropping or are being dropped it is your responsibility to call to the cyclists in front that the pace is too high. There is no shame in this, and it will help to keep the group together and riding safely. We should not be spread out all along the road, this makes it much harder for cars to pass us.
• When asked to “ease up’ or “slow a little” do not brake suddenly. Gently ease your pace by pedalling softly for a moment. Look at your speedo – if someone is being dropped you probably only need to reduce your speed by half a mile an hour to allow them to stay on.
• Slow right down when passing horses, and pass them as wide as it is safe to do so. Always call to the horse riders well ahead of catching them – a cheery “Good morning” or “Hello” will do, so that they know you are there. When passing horses you should carry on gently pedalling in case your freehub makes a noise, which can startle them.
• Do not ride on tri / aero bars in packs as you will not be able to brake or steer quickly.
• Don’t ride off the front - this is a social group ride, not a race! If you want to go faster then let the others know what you are going to do, and if no one wants to join you then go ahead and enjoy your ride alone. If the group does become split then everyone should wait at the next junction/potential junction for the group to reform, however try not to allow this to happen if possible – it makes it much more difficult for passing cars if we are spread out all along the road.
• Don’t leave the group without advising other riders, so that we don’t think you have got lost!
These are some calls you might hear. It is essential that you repeat them down the pack so everyone can hear:
• “Car Up/Back” : Keep tight to the cyclist next to you, and be prepared to cycle in single file
• “Hole” : Upcoming pothole to avoid. This can also be followed by a direction i.e “HOLE LEFT”.
• “Gravel” : Upcoming gravel to navigate carefully through. This can also be followed by a direction i.e “GRAVEL LEFT”.
• “Slowing” : Usually accompanied by a hand signal. The cyclist in front needs to slow down for some reason.
• “Stopping” : Brake, but gently!
• “Wait” : Usually at junctions to indicate there is a car coming
• “Clear” : To indicate that a junction is traffic free. You must check yourself and not rely on others.
• “Heads Up” : Hazard ahead, pay attention.
• “Single up” : Get into single file safely and promptly
• Single hand in the air (up or down) : Rider is signalling that he/she needs to stop or slow down. Usually followed by the call ‘Slowing’, ‘Stopping’.
• Pointing down at the road : This is to point out hazards such as pot holes, manhole covers etc. PLEASE copy this signal, it stops accidents and punctures.
• Waving a flat hand over the road : Uneven surface/gravel - you should move away from this to avoid punctures.
• Arm out left or right : Everyone in the pack needs to indicate when turning left or right.
• Left arm signalling towards the right behind back : Signal the cyclist is about to move out into the road, e.g. to pass a parked car, to go round debris in the road.
Below are a couple of links to useful videos if you’d like further advice, and we also have a much more in depth version of this summary in our club constitution - if you don't have a copy of this please let us know and we can send it to you. Please also feel free to let me know if you have any further queries or comments on this.