Riding with a group of like-minded cyclists is one the the most enjoyable pleasures known to humankind. The miles flow by much faster and the rough times become good stories for later. We all share the common goal of wanting to get faster and come safely and so we've written down some of the basic rules to follow when training in a group.
I started doing group rides while I was in high school at the Richardson BikeMart in Dallas. I got yelled at more than once back then! The reason wasn’t because the other cyclists disliked me, it was because I was doing something unsafe and they knew how dangerous cycling can be.
These rules don't eliminate the dangers of cycling outside, but they do reduce the risk and potential severity of any accidents. The goal of any group ride is never to "win" but to get a good workout and come home safely.
Group Cycling Safety Rules
Ride to the right hand side of the road. This doesn’t mean you have to be in the gravel or running over debris, but if it’s open road and no one is on your right, ride there.
Ride two abreast when in a group. It’s cleaner, neater, safer, and faster. There isn't a reason to be spread out 3 and 4 people wide. Find a buddy in the double pace-line and make a new friend!
Pass on the left. Just like triathlon and the HOV lane. It’s safer this way and also pretty easy to do if people are following rule #1!
Point and shout. We all want to get home safely. It’s our responsibility to work together and make sure the other cyclists in our group are aware of hazards in the road. Be loud and vocal. If the person in front yells something, you pass it on down the line!
No aerobars when drafting. Especially when following rule #2. Stay on the hoods where you can reach your brakes. Riding in the aerobars with a group is like a rally car driver using his knees to steer. He can probably get away with it a few times but he will eventually crash in a situation that could have been avoided if he’d had his hands on the wheel.
Ride single file when appropriate. Sometimes it is courteous to go single file so that cars can get around. We want cars to be courteous of us so we can also be courteous of cars.
Hold your line. Ride predictably in a straight line and don’t veer. Especially around a corner!
Take a turn. If it’s a group of two abreast or single file, it may be appropriate to rotate through and take a turn at the front. You don’t need to hit the gas when you do so, just keep the pace strong and steady.
At the end of the day, everyone wants to have a good ride and get home safely. As always, there are sometimes situations that happen totally out of our control. The sad reality of modern day cycling is that there are a lot of angry drivers on the road. Every time we ride our bike outside we are accepting a certain level of risk. Accidents do happen but following these tips will drastically reduce the chances of them happening and give you and your teammates the best chance of getting home safely!
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