Group Ride Safety and Etiquette
If joining in with any group riding please fist familiarise yourself with the information below.
All group rides should advertise expected distances and average speeds. As a general rule of thumb longer weekend rides fall in to the following categories.
Faster groups 80-100km at 27 kmh+
Medium groups 60-80km at 24 – 26 kmh
Easier groups 40-60km at 22 – 24kmh
Average speed means exactly that. Sometimes you will ride slower and sometimes you will need to ride faster. Please be honest with yourself and others about your abilities when selecting which group to ride in. If in doubt, ride in an easier group and step up next time if you find it too easy.
Know the route and be self-sufficient. Most times whomever has organised the ride will ensure the group stays together and follows the route but be sure you discuss at the start of the ride what is expected if someone is dropped off the back of the group
These are the minimum skills and abilities you will need to safely join a group ride
You need to be able to follow a wheel in group within a distance of 1m
You need to be able to signal with both hands while riding
You need to be able to drink whilst riding
You need to be able to solo ride for 2 hours at an average of 22kmh (13.5mph) on rolling terrain without stopping
You need to be able to change an inner tube and put a chain back on
You need a roadworthy road bike with functioning gears and brakes and tyres inflated to the correct pressure.
If it is wet you should have mudguards if you want to stay friends with other in the group.
You should not bring a TT bike to group rides and if you have clip on TT bars you should not use them whilst riding in the group.
What do I need to take with me?
You should have a spare tube, tyre levers and a pump as a minimum. You should also make sure you have appropriate clothing for the weather that you might meet whilst out on the road. You should also carry a mobile phone, some cash for the coffee stop and enough food to keep you going. Remember you are going to burn on average 500 calories per hour!
Which group should I join?
Groups will be posted with an average speed and overall distance planned. Please note the average speed is just that. Sometimes you will ride a bit slower (up hills) and sometimes you will need to ride a bit faster. Be honest, have a look at the average speed of your last ride and ask yourself can you hold that speed for the full distance of the ride without stopping? If you are in any doubt at all, join a slower ride and if it turns out to be too slow then consider joining a faster group next time.
What if I join and it’s too fast?
On social rides, nobody will be left behind, if the group is too fast for you, the group will wait for you but you would be encouraged to join a slower group the next time.
Groups will generally always be split on the hills and come back together at the top. Sometimes you might see the faster riders ride back down and retrace the hill again with the slowest rider in the group.
With member organised training rides and coached sessions it will depend on your training partners and you should discuss at the start of a ride whether or not it is expected that the group will wait for anyone who drops ‘off the back’.
For coached sessions you should discuss with the coach if the ride is too fast for you
What if I join and it’s too slow?
If you join a social ride and it is too slow for you then perhaps you could sit at the front for a longer spell, or retrace the hills; when you get to the top, ride back down to the last rider and ride to the top again. Just make sure if you are taking a longer pull on the front that the rest of the group are okay with that as they may all be wanting to take a pull themselves. Next time you might think about joining a faster group.
If you are out with other members on a member organised ride then discuss with your training partners whether you want to go on ahead and meet somewhere or leave the group or take a longer pull on the front.
If a coached session is too slow for you then please speak to the coach!
Hand signals, calls and more
Please see this British Cycling article. It is written from the perspective of sportive riding but all of the principles apply to regular group riding too: