CLUB CYCLING ETIQUETTE
There are many unwritten rules, techniques and traditions associated with cycling in a group. The group has language and signals that help to ensure the safety of the riders. New riders will learn the methods of safe group riding by listening to more experienced cyclists and by watching what happens during the group spin. The following tips should help you while you are gaining experience.
Lead riders should use hand signals to indicate stopping or turning and should shout back information to the group regarding obstacles and dangers. These include potholes, dangerous surfaces, tight bends, animals, pedestrians and oncoming traffic. Riders at the back should shout a warning on traffic approaching from the rear, particularly on narrow roads. ‘Car back’ means car approaching rear of group and ‘car up’ means car travelling towards you. Point out and call out any road hazards ahead. These include potholes, drains, speed ramps, animals, parked cars, opening car doors, wet or icy road surface, etc.
SIGNALS TO CARS:
If any communication with drivers should result in an accident, for example, if indicating to a driver that it is ok to overtake or pass the group, then the cyclist can be liable so please let drivers make their own decisions. Likewise when cycling please remember that aggression or foul language towards drivers while in club gear will always come back to one of the Midleton CTC committee.
SITTING ON THE WHEEL:
This is where you get the most protection from the wind. Do not allow a gap to open between you and the rider in front. Cyclists save a huge amount of energy by following in the slipstream of the rider in front. Keep looking well ahead to spot hazards and terrain changes. The group rides in two abreast formation. Pair off in twos and rotate at the front every couple of minutes or so. The frequency of rotation depends on the size of the group, the weather, pace, etc. Riders will often call ‘roll through’ to indicate that the riders at the front should rotate, don’t be lazy and take your turn at the front, everyone appreciates it!. If you cannot participate, go to the back and do not interrupt the line of riders. Maintain a steady straight line and, if a gap opens between you and the rider in front and you are struggling to close it, wave on the rider behind
Brakes should be used sparingly. Both brakes should be pulled but not slammed on. Try to avoid obstacles whilst still moving. Shout a warning. Riders behind cannot see what you see and jamming on your brakes is a sure way to cause a collision. No sudden movements. Be predictable with all your actions. Avoid braking or changing direction suddenly. Likewise, don’t get out of the saddle abruptly. It could cause the rider behind to hit you.
SAFETY, SAFETY, SAFETY:
You are responsible for the safety of everyone in the group and not just your own. Be aware that your actions will effect all the cyclists in the group. Keep in to the left- hand side of the road. Don’t overlap wheels. A slight direction change by the rider in front could easily catch you out. If you ‘touch wheels’ with the rider in front it’s tough to keep upright. Make sure to keep pedalling downhill when you are at the front of the group so that the riders behind don’t bunch up behind you. It can be a bit fraught if everyone has to reach for their brakes. When climbing hills, avoid following a wheel too closely. Many riders often lose their momentum when rising out of the saddle on a hill which can cause a sudden deceleration. This can often catch a rider who is following too closely, resulting in a fall from a wheel touch. Don’t panic if you brush shoulders, hands or bars with another rider. Try to stay relaxed in your upper body to absorb any bumps.
SPEED & PACE:
No showboating. When you come through for your turn at the front maintain a consistent speed. When you pull over, keep close to the rider you are replacing. On a hill keep your effort, rather than speed, consistent. Match your pace to the rider alongside you and do not stick your wheel ahead. Be smooth with your turns at the front of the group. Avoid surges. Stay alongside and don’t increase the pace to move a half wheel ahead of the rider alongside. He/she will have to speed up to maintain the two-by-two formation and the speed will escalate unnecessarily. Don’t sprint up to take your turn at the front. Move up smoothly with a small increase in pace and ease that pace ever so slightly when you move alongside. Do not ride extra hard when you feel good. You are part of a group and must maintain the general pace. Give others a helping push when they are struggling and accept one graciously if offered. We all have bad days!
KNOW YOU LIMITS:
If you are tired or unable to ride relatively comfortably on the front, go to the back. Over extending yourself can lead to being dropped and the group having to wait to look after you
Bring drinks, bars and some money. This will buy some food & drink in case of emergency. Always bring two bottles and plenty of food on a long spin. Start eating after about an hour. The golden rule is to eat ‘ little and often’. Don’t wait until coffee stop for refuelling. ALWAYS ensure that your tyres are properly inflated before EVERY spin. Bring two spare tubes, tyre levers and a pump. A multi tool can be useful too. Bring your mobile phone in case you get stranded.
Enjoy and have fun! If the group needs to ‘single out’, which is a command from either the front or back of the bunch, due to the passing of a vehicle, then the rider on the front right will cycle in front of the rider on his left and then pull in to the left in front of the rider. This will be the same the whole way down the bunch.
As it is about 20-30% harder to be on the front as a wind breaker, then it is good etiquette to take turns. The simplest way to do this is “roll through”. The rider on the front right will cycle in front of the rider on his left and then pull in to the left in front of the rider. This will be the same the whole way down the bunch. The amount of time spent on the front will vary according to conditions and the intensity of the spin. A time of about 5 minute is sufficient on winter spins. If you are feeling very tired, reduce that time on the front by calling “roll through
If you are on the front of a bunch, going downhill, do not freewheel, but keep turning the gear and often put it in the big ring. The reason for this is that the riders behind you in your slip stream will be travelling faster than you and hence have to keep braking, which disturbs the natural rhythm of the bunch.
On club runs keep the pace steady on hills and regroup at the top, instead of waiting, spin back down to the last cyclist and join in at the back and encourage others up.
When turning right or left when you are heading the bunch, shout “turning left, or “turning right” and put out your hand to signal. The others behind you should do the same all the way down the bunch, in order to let traffic behind the group, know of the groups intentions.
Everybody wants a good training session when they’re out cycling – but where possible and for the more experienced club members, it would be great if we could keep an eye on fellow club members on cycles. Ensure nobody gets lost or dropped from the pack, or injured. If this happens it is good to ensure that they are ok to return home themselves while the others go on, or that they’re with someone if they need help through injury or some other circumstance.
Adhere to the rules of the road –they’re there for a reason – to protect you and others. And remember ...you’re representing the club when you’re out there – particularly when you are wearing CLUB KIT!!!