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Group cycling technique

 

These videos offer a good overview of group cycling technique and etiquette. Good articles to read are this one from BikeRadar and this one from Road Cycling UK. Road Cycling UK have also created this very informative article on hand signals.

 

Here’s a summary of good group cycling technique:

  • The group rides in two abreast formation and rotates at the front every couple of minutes or so. The direction and frequency of the rotation (i.e. clockwise or anti-clockwise) is agreed beforehand. Riders will often call ‘up and over’ to indicate that the riders at the front should rotate.
  • 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.
  • 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 acquire a reputation as a ‘half-wheeler’!
  • 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.
  • Do not make 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 your bike to drop back slightly and the rider behind could collide with you.
  • Lead riders should use hand signals to indicate stopping or turning as well as clearly audible shouted instructions.
  • 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.
  • Riders at the rear should warn of approaching cars, particularly on narrow roads.
  • Avoid leaving gaps when following wheels. Cyclists save a huge amount of energy by following in the slipstream of the rider in front. However, don’t become mesmerized by the rear brake of the rider in front as you concentrate on staying close as there’s a good chance you’ll ride into it! Keep looking well ahead to spot hazards and terrain changes.
  • 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.
  • Make sure to keep pedaling down hill 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.
  • 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.

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