Group Ride Etiquette
How do you behave on a Group Ride?
We don't talk with our mouths full, we hold doors for each other, we don't interrupt anyone while they're talking, whoever calls shotgun first sits in the front of the car. We throw socks directly into the washing machine instead of leaving them on the floor, and we announce sidewalks and obstacles on the road by hand signals. Such countless unwritten rules determine peaceful coexistence in a culture, and if the last two examples in particular have made you wonder, this blog post is for you.
Bicycle culture also has its thick handbook of do's and don'ts, and nowhere are these more (vitally) important than on group rides. Group rides are the backbone of the cycling community, where beginners learn and connect, where advanced riders train and share their knowledge, where cycling culture lives and breathes - if you stick to a few rules. What you should remember on group rides, we explain to you in this group ride rulebook.
ride in the wind/pull: Rideat the front of your formation. This is usually done by the experienced and fit cyclists, who get the most drag and save the rest of the group some effort in the slipstream. However, you take turns.
Engaging/disengaging: You either zipper back into a row of one or the group lines up in a row of two.
Push: To set the speed of the group, this is done by those riding in the wind (with consideration for the group, of course)
Half-Wheeling: In a row of two, if your neighbor is riding faster and half a wheel ahead of you, the risk of an accident increases.
Cradle Pedaling: To stretch your legs and relax your butt, or to have more power e.g. on a climb, you can switch to cradle pedaling and pedal standing up. This changes the air resistance for the cyclists behind you.
1. know what you are getting into
On most group rides, the approximate route is communicated with all participants before the start. Check it out and see if you are up to the challenge. If you are unsure, ask the other cyclists about the planned speed or climbs. There are no stupid questions, it would only be stupid if you are overstrained and the others have to wait for you constantly.
2. be on time and prepared
No one likes to wait, and neither do you, so arrive on time and fully equipped at the agreed meeting point. Remember to bring enough food and water, a puncture kit, a small pump, some change and your ID. Of course, it can happen that you forget something and most cyclists are happy to lend you a pump or give you a power bar, but such exceptions should not become the rule.
3. give hand signals and communicate with the group
There is nothing worse than thundering into a pothole at 30km/h out of nowhere. Give hand signals for obstacles ahead such as branches, potholes, broken glass, or even oncoming vehicles. If you don't feel safe enough to take your hands off the handlebars, shout a warning to the cyclists behind you, and even if you switch to a cradle ride, a verbal warning is important before you get up in the saddle.
Flat hand vertically upwards: "Caution". Used especially at intersections or junctions and tells others to be ready to brake.
Flat hand to the left or right: "Turn". Should be used by everyone, not just those riding downwind.
Finger to the left or right: "Obstacle ahead". As soon as you see an obstacle, point to it as soon as possible to warn others to be careful.
Arm down Palm back: "Slow down". Can be used by all, but especially by those in the pull.
A small wave of the right elbow: "Switch". This gesture is used only by riders in the pull when they want to be detached. A look to the left and right to make sure that it is a good and safe moment for a change is required before the first riders drop back a little and the second riders in line move to the front.
Arm pointing down,wipinghand movement with palm towards the ground: "Gravel ahead".
Arm pointing down, wiping hand movement from left to right with palm towards the front: "Rails".
Hitting the buttocks twice on the right or signaling with the hand to stand up: "Cradle step". The rider will stand up in the saddle, which affects the air resistance of the cyclists behind him/her.
4. be considerate in the choice of your speed
When riding in the wind, remember that you are not riding alone and that other cyclists are in a different condition. Whoever rides in front determines the speed of the entire group and should therefore be especially considerate of it. If you don't feel challenged enough, it's more comfortable for everyone if you ride longer in the pull instead of faster. The riders in the third row are usually in a good position to judge whether you are going too fast or too slow and should communicate this to the front group to find a comfortable riding style for everyone.
This mindfulness is especially true in and immediately after turns and during climbing sessions, as it can be especially difficult to keep the group together here. The least you can do is wait for everyone on social rides at the summit. And really wait, give some of the others a little breather at the top and if it's really taking you too long... then go back and do the climb a second time!
If you absolutely cannot keep up, tell the group that you want to fall back to the end of the formation for a moment. Changing position is much better than overexerting yourself and losing the connection completely, leaving the others waiting for you.
5. obey traffic rules
If you run red lights or disregard other rules, you not only put yourself and the group in danger and are obviously committing a misdemeanor, but you also damage the mood in the group and the reputation of cyclists in general. So just leave it and ride sensibly. This includes riding straight lines without unexpected swerves, looking behind you before changing lanes, riding as far to the right as possible, and giving space to other road users.
6. set off together, arrive together
It is perhaps the most important rule. If you start as a group, you will end as a group. This means waiting for each other, being helpful and considerate. Only in this way can you be sure that everyone will have a good time and eventually arrive home safely.
7. Do not half-wheel
When you're riding in a line of two, it's even more important than usual to keep up with the speed of the group to avoid accidents. If you ride faster than your neighbors, you risk colliding not only with the riders in front of you if they have to slow down suddenly or change their riding style, but also with the riders next to you. Ride with your handlebars at the same height next to each other. Half-wheeling is not only dangerous, but it also brings unrest into the speed of the group and it is simply annoying when one rider always wants to be a bit faster.
8. Do not ride unpredictably
If you often deviate from your driving line without telling the group, it will not only make other riders nervous, but it will also increase your risk of an accident. So don't make unnecessary and unannounced swerves to protect your group, yourself and your reputation.
9. keep your hands off the brake
Of course, only if a sudden obstacle doesn't absolutely require it (although ideally that's also been announced beforehand, so there's no need to react abruptly). If you want to slow down, rather use air resistance, sit up briefly or pedal a little slower. This makes speed changes less abrupt for everyone and allows for a smoother ride.
10. do not join other rides uninvited
Who is not happy to see other bikers on a tour. But while greetings are a must here, few people like it when you just join the group or a single rider uninvited. Sure, maybe they look nice and are riding at your pace and style, but ask if you can join them before you do. Well, just be polite.
11. spread your snot on the street, not on the jerseys of those behind you
Newcomers beware, handkerchiefs stay at home on the ride. What seems a bit unusual at first quickly becomes more normal. However, it is and remains disgusting to ride through the sneeze cloud or worse of the cyclists in front of you. If you have to blow your nose, take a look behind you, maybe ride a little to the side (announced, of course) and do your nasal business there.
12. no attacks on a group ride
If you are on a social ride that is not explicitly intended for experienced riders to train for race situations, then attacks or other challenges have no place there. If you feel strong and want to prove it, then just ride a little longer in the wind - you can exhaust yourself and the others are happy.
13. do not put the group in danger
Especially if you are driving in front, you have a special responsibility and have to think about the whole group. Will everyone make it through this green light and is there enough room for us all to turn left one behind the other? No one should have to choose between their own safety and staying with the group.
The longer you ride and the more group rides you take part in, the more natural these rules will become for you and in the long run you will also learn to assess new groups well. And the more comfortable you will feel in these group constellations, because in the end that's what it's all about: sharing your passion for cycling with others.
But if you are missing the perfect bike for your next group ride or you want to sell your old buddy on two wheels, bucycyle is your best address. If you have questions about buying, selling and the topic of bicycles, you can find help on our blog, or you can ask our team. Until then, we wish you, as always: Happy browsing, happy cycyling (whether in the group or not)!