How to ride in a group: Eight tips on group riding etiquette
Riding in a group isn't just more efficient, it's more sociable too. Get these tips right and you'll be welcome at any group ride
Before you get started riding in a group it is important to acknowledge the etiquette that accompanies group riding.
Not only will following these guidelines make riding in a group more fun and easier for everyone, but it will also make sure that you are not endangering any riders or yourself. Group riding can be a thrill but riding in close proximity to other riders can also be tricky and a skill that takes time to develop. Here we look at how you can ride in a group.
Don't slam on the brakes
This is the number one tip for riding in a group. If you've got riders behind you, don't grab the brakes. Instead, slow down gradually, while communicating to the people around you. You can call out to say you're slowing down, or hold a hand out behind you. Better yet, for a belt and braces approach, do both.
Be careful when getting out of the saddle
When you stand on the pedals and ride out of the saddle, your bike moves backwards slightly. Therefore, be careful when getting out of the saddle if there are riders behind you. Before you stand on the pedals, get a bit of space between you and the rider behind you and just give them some warning about what you're going to do.
Typically, if you flick both of your elbows out before standing, the rider behind you will get the message.
The best thing about riding in a group is the energy you save riding behind other riders. Protected from the wind, you can save about 30% of your energy. To get that benefit, though, you need to ride close to the other riders. Aim to ride between 20cm and a metre behind the rider in front of you.
When you're that close to one another, you need to keep focused. Keep an eye on the road and on the riders around you, so you're ready to react if they brake or change direction.
Keep your hands on your brake levers, so you can react at a moment's notice.
Ride in a 'chain gang'
One way of sharing the load in a group is by doing super short turns on the front. In a chain gang, as soon as you get to the front of the group, you peel off and start gradually working to the back of the group. Once at the back, you move across into the 'fast lane' of cyclists and start progressing towards the front.
If that sounds confusing, have a look at our guide on how to do a chain gang.
'Chain-gangs' are often referred to as rotating pace lines. To do this most effectively, make sure you don't pull too hard at the front of the fast lane, nor too easy at the front of the slow lane.
Ride single file
A simpler way of working in a group is by riding single file. In this formation, riders spend longer on the front, maybe a minute or two, then peel off to the back and enjoy being on the back until the next rider slots in behind them. It's simple, and effective – with just one line of riders, this is really efficient. Plus, it means stronger riders can stay on the front for longer and help out people who are struggling.
Use warning signs
When you're riding in a group, you can't always see what's coming up ahead. So, if you're on the front, signal to the riders behind, both verbally, and with a hand gesture. Point out potholes, speed bumps, parked cars, and anything else that could cause you to change direction.
Comminication, as they say, is key.
Take your turn on the front
Riding in a group is a team effort. It relies on everyone doing their bit and taking their turn on the front, in the wind. Make sure you take your turns on the front – otherwise, you might find yourself being referred to as a 'wheelsucker'.
Work with the group to keep the group together
Unless you're racing and trying to break up the group, it's better for a group to stick together. To make sure that happens, be attentive to the rest of the group. Find out how people are feeling; what kind of pace they're happy with, and adjust your riding accordingly.
If you're feeling really good, take some more time on the front, and take the wind on the descents and the flats. Make sure to check with the rest of the group before you increase the power and the pace.
1Is The Cost Of Bike Tech KILLING Cycling? | GCN Tech Show Ep. 310
2Attention Weak Cyclists - 7 Essential Body Weight Exercises!
3Luxury Vs Everyday: How To Improve Your Indoor Cycling Setup
4Swapping Stems, Turbo Troubleshooting & Numb Feet! | GCN Tech Clinic
5Why Do Cyclists Break The Law? | GCN Show Ep. 568