Friday, October 1, 2010

Top Ten Rules for Riding in a Group

Hey Everyone! I'm Earl (aka Big E) and I'm a loud mouthed and opinionated cyclist and thought I'd share (force) myself with the rest of the cycling public just for fun. Aren't you all lucky! Enjoy.

I ride with a local club a few times a week and for the most part have a great time. But lately we've had several crashes due to poor group riding skills. So, for your reading enjoyment. The TOP TEN things to do/ not do on a group ride:

1. RIDE IN A PREDICTABLE MANNER. Don't be that person who weaves in and out of the group. Flicks corners like they're in some sort of motorcycle race. Or Grabs two fists full of brake because they weren't paying attention to what's happening in front of them. Be as smooth as possible with all motions on the bike. Speeding up, slowing down, and moving side to side.

2. IF YOU ARE LEADING THE GROUP YOU HAVE CERTAIN RESPONSIBILITIES. The first of which is knowing what the hell the route is! I'm amazed by how many people ride up to the front to strut their stuff and then miss a turn because they have know idea where they are going. Drives me crazy! The second thing you are responsible for is pointing hazards out. The guy who is 6 inches off your back wheel can't see the big branch coming up. And when you swerve to miss it (see rule #1) and don't point it out they are going to end up on their ear.

3. DON'T YELL AND SHOUT UNLESS ITS AN EMERGENCY.  This kind of ties into part of rule #2. A simple hand gesture for debris on the road or to indicate that you are slowing or making a turn is so much more civilized than yelling, "Car up! Car Back! Slowing! Stopping!" My belief is that if you aren't paying enough attention to whats going on around you that you need to have people yell crap out than you have no business riding in a group anyway.

4. IF YOU HAVE AREO BARS, DO NOT RIDE IN THEM UNLESS YOU ARE AT THE FRONT OF THE GROUP. This one is mostly for our socially awkward brethren the tri-people. I can't believe this needs to even be pointed out. But practically every event ride I do I see someone in their tt bars behind someone like they're in the team time trial at the tour or something. It's so dangerous because you have no brakes out there. So you have to move your hands from the bars to the brake hoods. And by the time you've done that in an emergency situation you and anyone behind you is on the pavement wondering what the hell just happened.

5. KNOW HOW TO CHANGE A FLAT TIRE AND HAVE THE PROPER TOOLS WITH YOU. We used to have a guy(s) that would do the group rides and not carry anything. Expecting someone else to supply them with all the things they need. I call bull#$%^! Carry your own stuff and know how to use it. Enough said.

6. DON'T HALF WHEEL! Now please don't get this confused with over lapping wheels. Which in and of itself can be dangerous but a lot of times can't be helped (things like echelons come to mind). No, I'm talking about when you are riding side by side (2x2) with someone and you are continually half a bike length in front of them. And whenever the other person tries to come even with you. You accelerate some more in order to stay ahead. It's rude, juvenile, stupid and your not in a race. So get over it and behave yourself.

7. IF YOUR ARE GOING TO TAKE A PULL AT THE FRONT BE SMOOTH (ARE YOU NOTICING A PATTERN?). I can't tell you how many times I've been in the group gotten finished with my pull up front just to have the next guy in line take off like a shot and create a huge gap which when closed up usually strings the entire group out and then once they are caught makes the group squish all up again (also called the accordion effect). Be smooth (rule #1). If you don't know what the speed was when you were still drafting then ask the person at the front how fast they are going when you pass them. And keep it at that speed. If you want to go a little faster then slowly ramp the speed up. Just don't do it all at once. Smoooooth.

8. DON'T WEAR EARPHONES WHILE RIDING IN THE GROUP. Regardless of your feelings about weather or not you should wear ear buds while riding a bike. Don't do it in a group ride. Group rides are suppose to be social. But how can anyone have a conversation with someone who can't hear a damn thing?! I personally think its pretty rude, dangerous and stupid. Just leave them at home. And if you really want to listen to music then go do a solo ride.

9. IF THE GROUP YOUR WITH HAS REGROUP POINTS THEN KNOW WHERE THEY ARE AND ACTUALLY REGROUP AT THEM.  Check the policy of the group your with and honor that code. Again, these rides are meant to be fun. But it's no fun if you get dropped out in the middle of no where because you had no idea it was going to be a hammerfest.

10. HAVE FUN! Everyone has different reasons for riding with a group. Respect that. And hopefully they respect your reasons too. But have fun. We are all on bikes. And what better way to see the world and be with other like minded people than on a group ride? Enjoy it!

I'm sure a lot of you have your own ideas about more rules. Please feel free to post them and if I get enough good ones I'll add then to the list.  Rubber side down,

Big E

1 comment:

  1. Big E, you could add rules 11-20 with things like lights, safety gear (helmets), doing your share of the work in a longer ride or if a pace line is going, and choosing the right group to start with. Thanks for the 1-10 reminders, and I'm happy that we have someone like you being assertive for the rest of us. Hope this gets a lot of hits. See you out there.