Well of course there is! But if you’re more used to cycling on your own you might be unaware of how groups of riders communicate and ensure everyone is safe. Whether you’re planning to join a club or have a few sportives in the diary, we’ve got some ‘good to know’ pointers for you.
Sudden veering or weaving can have a serious impact. At best you can expect the air around you to turn temporarily blue with choice words. At worst you could cause a crash and possible injury to fellow riders, not to mention damage to bikes.
Be aware of who/what is around you, don’t just mindlessly follow others
You might not have a clear view of the road but try to look through other riders so that you always know what is ahead and are prepared.
If you need to make a move within a group give others notice
A simple ‘on your right’ will ensure the rider ahead knows you are going to move past.
Don’t religiously follow the wheel in front
Should that rider need to brake suddenly there may be nowhere for you to go other than straight into them. Similarly, don’t overlap wheels – sudden movement by yourself or the other rider is likely to result in a crash.
Drafting is great, wheel sucking is frowned upon
If you are riding in a group take your turn at the front – the benefits are far greater if everyone takes a turn at leading. However, once at the front don’t suddenly decide to increase the speed because it suits you to – that’s just as bad as shirking your responsibilities!
Don’t half wheel
Half wheeling is when someone comes up alongside you and you immediately up the pace so that they have to work harder to keep up. You up the pace again and so it goes on – it’s not nice, don’t do it!
Communicate at all times!
There is a range of voice commands and hand signals that every cyclist should know and understand. Briefly:
- Shouting ‘car up’ or ‘car front’ and ‘car back’ is a very obvious warning of a car or other vehicle approaching the group.
- ‘Single out’ means that if you’re riding two abreast the group needs to change to single column formation. Outside rider should drop back behind the inside riders, and everyone should pace themselves accordingly to accommodate the outside riders.
- Left arm or right arm out indicates the direction to take at a junction.
- Pointing down at the road (often accompanied by a shout of ‘hole’) indicates a pothole or hazard that should be avoided. There is no need to point out minor irregularities to the road surface, but major potholes etc that could damage a wheel or throw a rider off balance need a warning.
- Hand in the air means everyone needs to stop.
- A hand to the side making a patting motion indicates slowing down.
- Hand behind the back, usually the left hand pointing towards the right, indicates something ahead that means you need to move in the direction the rider is pointing to – most often used to indicate parked cars, pedestrians etc.
It’s also important that any of these commands and signals are communicated through the group so that all riders are made aware of what’s happening, so find your voice and use your hands!
Be self reliant
Make sure that your bike is in good condition and that you have water, food and spares. You’ll win no friends if you end up begging the use of someone else’s spare inner tube and tyre levers!
Observe the Highway Code
Nothing more to be said, it’s just plain commonsense.
Respect other road users
Yes, we all know that cars and bikes aren’t always the most comfortable road partners, and some drivers have little respect for the safety of cyclists. But, and it’s a very big and important ‘but’, acknowledging those drivers who are mindful of passing safely and sensibly is a must. A simple nod or hand wave is enough to say ‘thank you’.
Say hello to other cyclists!
It’s amazing how good it’ll make you feel. And if you see someone at the side of the road just quickly check that they are okay and don’t need assistance. Remember, one day it could be you – a friendly fellow cyclist might be very useful in an emergency.