Good cycling etiquette is appreciated and expected by all who take part in our group rides. This article is provided for riders new and old and will ensure a more pleasurable ride for all. Please take a moment to familiarise yourself with good etiquette and watch the video as well.
Why ride in a group?
By riding in a group you may will learn new road skills and be able to chat to more experienced riders out on the run, generally speaking it is the best place to learn about how to improve technique, share experiences and cover distances at a greater speed. The club coach or event organiser will normally be available on most group rides as well as a number of very experienced riders. Please don’t be afraid to ask if you’re unsure of anything.
Ride within your ability.
Club rides will generally be posted with a target location, route, average expected speed and expected elevation covered. Deviations may take place depending on circumstance or weather.
Please do not attempt to ride an 100 mile training ride if you have never ridden close to that distance before, ease in with a more realistic distance and if there’s nothing advertised please feel free to post a ride yourself; this is an inclusive club which appreciates members maybe shift workers, family people and have general commitments in life, you will be surprised who is available for ride, ride with a group suited to your ability.
Club runs will wait for everyone, it is a “no drop policy”, therefore if your lacking in ability to get up a hill please don’t worry, someone will wait at the top, if you do not appear in a reasonable timeframe one of the group will come looking for you (puncture kit in hand).
Training rides and training loops are a little more brutal and it is not expected that riders will wait, come self-sufficient, get sorted and head to the meet point. Training loops always start and end at the Velo, keep pushing on and someone will be waiting for you.
Equipment and clothing.
South Shields Velo riders always ride with helmets, sorry no helmet no ride.
We also request that if you have tri bars or a tri bike and you wish to use these in our rides then stick with either specific tri training rides or training loops, tri bars generally put a rider in a slower response to react (brakes, pointing out pot holes etc) and are deemed not suitable for close in group riding, it is for that reason that we have no mountain, trail or other bar ends on our rides other than road bike bars, the aforementioned do not mix well with the drops of a road bike bar and could easily cause an incident in close riding proximity.
Please ensure where possible that your bike is in full working order, gears change smoothly without the chain coming off, both front and rear brakes work effectively, tyres are in good order and inflated to the correct pressure. Club membership offers a discount at local bike stores, why not check out the deals and have your bike serviced by a professional.
Mudguards during wet winter rides are nice as they keep you from getting soaked and make the bike easier to clean after the ride; it also allows the rider behind to see.
If you are unsure about your position set up on your bike then ask one of the more experienced riders to have a look at it for you whilst your riding and advise on how you can adjust it. Maybe arrange a bike fit with a local technician, speak to the club Welfare Officer and they will point you in the direction of the right people.
Wear clothes appropriate to the conditions.
Ride in two lines.
Two parallel lines of riders is the safest and most practical riding formation. All club runs and training rides (training loops may differ) will assume this formation, with a move to single file on more narrower or busy roads; from being in twos simply drop a place back and proceed at the same pace in single file, move back into a formation when safe and practical to do so.
The benefits of riding in a group are more than just social. You will cover more ground with less effort in a group, saving around 20% of your energy when sitting in the bunch. So stay close to the rider in front to maximise the slipstream and allow riders around you to also use it to best effect. If you are nervous about hitting the wheel in front, ride 6 inches either side of it and don’t stare at the tyre, try to look up, this way you will relax more and see any problems before they arise. Do not overlap your wheel with the rider’s rear wheel in front of you.
Do not ʻhalf wheelʼ or race ahead! Half-wheeling is when one of the two riders on the front continually pushes his wheel ahead of his fellow rider to try and push them to go quicker. This is bad practice and will mess the ride pace up. If a rider does this just stay at your pace and ask him to ease up.
The club rides are not a race and are more effective if they are ridden at a pace that everyone can keep up with. Stronger riders should just spend more time on the front and make their efforts on the hills and then re-group. Please do not let this stop you taking your turn at the front, its good experience and very much appreciated, just don’t burn out to early.
Depending on the type of group you are riding in, the main principle of group riding is to ride together (either socially or through and off). So attacking off the front is not a good idea, it will usually upset the more experienced riders and generally upset the discipline and pace of the group.
Sometimes there will be a long hill or section where there will be some hard riding allowed. Often there may be a sprint for Strava segment, but remember to be sensible, this isn’t a race and there are riders in the group who may be dropped.
Don’t switch suddenly. Hold your line and keep a steady cadence, this is for the rider who may be riding behind and needs to be close and confident that you won’t move suddenly or wobble. The riders in front will not stop suddenly without warning so you won’t have to make any sudden moves.
Try to relax your upper body as much as possible. This will help prevent fatigue and also prevent you from making sudden changes in direction. Bend the arms a little and keep your head up.
Tell someone if you have a problem. You may be feeling a bit shy about it but tell the riders around you if you have a puncture, a mechanical problem, feel tired or have run out of food or drink, don’t drift to the back and off it without telling anyone. If they drop you on a hill they will wait or send a rider or two back to pace you up to the group so don’t worry, they won’t abandon you.
If you puncture, shout “puncture” and pull over to the left hand side of the road. The group may ride on and then retrace so they keep warm whilst you replace an inner tube. If you struggle to repair it then ask for help, there will be experienced riders who can help you fix it quickly, so don’t feel afraid to ask if it will save the group time.
Send the message up and down the line.
If you are riding at the back and a rider is dropped for whatever reason, tell the riders in front of you and ask them to shout up to the front. The pace can then be adjusted to suit the problem or the group can stop. Also, if there are issues at the front shout the info down the line to the riders at the back.
Other general shouted or pointed out instructions.
These should be passed up or down the line as appropriate:
“Car up & Car down” – A general warning of a car trying to pass or one coming around a corner or one coming towards you on a narrow road.
If a car is coming towards you, call “Car down”.
If a car is coming up from behind call “Car up” this warns the riders ahead of you.
“Easy” – If this is shouted, or a flat palm out to the side usually means there is a bad junction or potential hazard ahead and to pay attention yourself, it’s often very easy to rely on the ride leaders to warn you of pending problems in the road. This is especially important if you are in a large group and it will take a while to get around the hazard.
“Single file “ – When a car is behind and needs extra space to overtake, or if the group is approaching a narrow road or overtaking a line of parked cars.
When approaching a parked car, this is also accompanied by placing your left hand behind your left buttock. Remember to give the car plenty of space as car doors will often be opened.
When there is a hole or other object in the road that needs to be avoided, point down to the floor in line with the obstruction and moving steadily to the side to avoid this. If you need both hands on the bars simply shout it out.
“Clear” – When pulling out from a junction this is called to inform riders behind that it is safe to carry on. If it is not safe, either shout “Stop” or “Car”.
General rules for club runs:
A pre-ride talk will generally be given to ensure everyone knows what to expect and to briefly outline the route and where the ride splits will be, where the training ride and club ride will separate.
Guests are expected to attend a maximum of 3 rides as a guest, after this they will need to become a member of the club to continue attending the rides.
The club runs will always be run at the pace of the slowest rider and nobody will be left behind, please note as previously mentioned don’t put yourself in the awkward position as a novice attending the clubs hardest or fastest rides.
It is advised that all riders have their own insurance, such as British Cycling (BC) or Cyclists Touring Club (CTC).
SSVCC acknowledge that riding with headphones on may impair warnings from vehicles or other club riders of an imminent danger, or a rider requiring assistance. It is for this reason that SSVCC will adopt a no headphone use whilst out on club runs.
Riders who cannot or will not comply with the ride rules and general etiquette will be reported to the Welfare Officers whom will address this accordingly.
Enjoy riding with Velo, share your experiences and help us grow.