Road group riding etiquette

Discussion in 'Road Bikes' started by Xela, Oct 24, 2009.

  1. Xela

    Xela New Member Tavern Member

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    I was responding to Myster's thread "solo or group" and thought it might be a good idea to start a thread with some of the "rules of the road" in case anyone is wanting to do some group rides for the first time. Please add to this list.

    During a group ride, if you're at the front (especially in a paceline), you're the eyes for everyone behind you. Therefore, it is your duty to point out any upcoming obstacles in the road such as potholes, debris, dead animals, etc and even use a verbal warning if necessary. This prepares the rest of the group to react and to follow you as you avoid it.

    If a paceline does form, don't let too big a gap develop between you and the person in front of you. If you can't hold the pace, either let the group know or fall out and get with a group that you're more comfortable with. However, give it your all, because being in a fast paceline is quite fun. Keep an eye on about how long each person is pulling so you can take about the same length pull at the front. As you work your way to the front, watch how the first and second riders are transitioning. When it's your turn to go from second to first, don't feel that you need to hammer it when you're the leader. Try to just sustain the same pace, though it's gonna be a lot harder at the front. When your pull is done, give a clue that you're pulling off like a flick of the elbow, look to make sure no cars are coming, and pull over to the left and let the paceline go by. Ease up a little then fall in behind the last guy and start it all over again.

    When you're at the back, you're the eyes and ears for the group ahead. At this point listen and occasionally look for cars coming up and alert the group audibly when they are. Yelling "car back" is the most common.

    In groups, hold your line. Consciously think about riding predictably. If you've watched the tour, you can see what a big effect an unexpected swerve has on the rest of the group.

    I know a lot of groups will yell "car up" when there is on-coming traffic. I don't usually find this too beneficial for me, because I try to keep near the shoulder even in groups, but if the group is fanning out across the road, or there are blind curves, this can be a good idea.

    I know there's a lot I missed, so post away.
     
  2. mikebike

    mikebike Florida Cyclist

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    It was briefly mentioned.... but the key word in paceline is PACE.

    Do not speed up just because you get on the front --- if it is 18 ride 18 if 24 then 24

    One note if it is too fast for you..... tell the guy behind you ...then speed up along side the guy in front of you ...... the effect of this is pulling the guy behind you into your spot rather than gapping him off ( and thus making him work really hard to close the gap)

    also if you know the group and you should be able to ride with them--- when you feel like you are about to give up--- chances are so does the rest of the group and it will slow down soon. (this does not apply if you are in over your head) :p
     

  3. mtndoc

    mtndoc New Member

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    Thanks Alex, I have never ridden in a group of more than 2, so all information is helpful. I know it might seem second nature to most who ride in groups, but please give any hints you have about riding in groups. I will be in groups eventually and appreciate all input.

    Thanks,
    DrB
     
  4. eaton

    eaton New Member

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    Good tips so far. I especially like "hold your line. Consciously think about riding predictably." That's huge.

    If you're new to group riding, tell the group leader or other people in the group. Know where you're going and how to get back. If you get dropped 20 miles from the start, you'll want to know how to get home.

    Don't stay in the front too long. Pull off before you're empty so you still have some gas to fall back and jump back in line. You may have to go up a gear for a quick burst of speed to get in.

    Don't fixate on the wheel ahead of you. I usually look at the jerseys in front of me; not really staring at them but trying to see the whole picure, like driving and seeing all the cars in front of you at once.

    Make sure your bike is in good shape, you have stuff to fix a flat and that you know how to fix a flat quickly. You don't want to be the new guy (or girl) that has to bum a tube on your first ride. You also don't want to be the person that everybody has to wait for while your figuring out how to use your CO2 inflator. If you need help, ask. I once had a flat at the top of a hill. No gloves and my hands were so sweaty that I couldn't get the tire back on. I finally asked another guy to give me a hand. lost a few man points but I didn't want to hold up the group.

    If you get dropped, don't get discouraged. Remember where you got dropped and try to make it past there next time. Pretty soon you'll be BSing with the other regulars and trading pulls.
     
  5. eaton

    eaton New Member

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    Forgot: Be careful about riding with strangers in organized century rides. I have friends and club mates that I'm perfectly comfortable with. Organized centuries, especially easy ones, seem to attract squirelly riders.
     
  6. mtndoc

    mtndoc New Member

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    Thanks for the tips eaton, all are of value to newbies to group riding like me....

    DrB
     
  7. chh55

    chh55 Drink plenty of water!!!

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    Great stuff here!...
    When pointing out hazards... do it as soon as you see it! It doesn't help anyone in back if the info comes too late.
    In our club we always ride in double file (we have the luxury of nearly car free roads) so the left row is moving up and the right is moving back, like a conveyor belt. This type of paceline is great for socializing as you have someone right next to you to talk to and eventually you will rub shoulders (quite literally!) with everyone in the pack. Newbies have a tendency to get claustrophobic when they are in the right line, hemmed in all the way around with just a few inches between riders... when in this position it is vital to stay cool, not to make sudden movements, braking is just about forbidden and one should remember that getting out of your saddle to climb causes your back wheel to suddenly shoot backwards a half a foot or so due to the change in your center of gravity.
    It takes practise to keep one eye on the tire in front of you and adjust your flow so that distance stays the same despite changes in wind and grade, and the other eye up the road a ways looking for what's comming.
    I feel it is irresponsible (unless it is a VERY well trained group) to take both hand off the bars when riding in the middle of a paceline, taking off jackets and stowing them, opening food wrappers etc etc. Even if you feel confident doing this yourself the front wheel can easily be deflected slightly by a little rock or indentation and will cause those few inches of seperation to disappear in an instant! If you must do this wait until you're in the back or there is a clear section of road with long visibility, cut out of the line while holding you speed, do your thing and ease back in with the cooperation of the rider behind.
     
  8. chh55

    chh55 Drink plenty of water!!!

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    Just thought of a few other things... when you are in front and going down a modest incline you must pedal hard! Because of the slipstream the riders behind will be rolling easy and to prevent them from braking you really gotta push it up front.
    On steeper and longer descents let the distance between riders stretch out... a lot! This will almost happen by itself.
    On steeper or longer ascents it is sometimes a good idea for the group leader (forgot to mention that of course you need a group leader!) to temporarily disband the paceline and select a predetermined landmark up the road (or the top of the hill) as a reassembly point. Why? Everyone has a different approach to climbing. Some go at it fast and taper off, some finish fast, and so on. The group will also consist of differing abilities and the hills are where that really shows, so let everyone climb at his or her ability and then regroup. This reduces stress and lets the goats show off a bit, so what.
    I'll see if I think of more later.
     
  9. Xela

    Xela New Member Tavern Member

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    Great additions, chh! Thanks for the input! :thumbsup:
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2009
  10. garysol1

    garysol1 New Member

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    One more tip not yet mentioned......Wait to drink from your bottle till your on the back of the pack. Nothing worse than causing a bunch crash due to your dropped bottle under someone else's wheels.....
     
  11. chh55

    chh55 Drink plenty of water!!!

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    This thing about holding the predetermined speed is a bit exagerated. A group ride which is going to average, say 20mph rarely will have that speed at any given time (to average 20 you must ride 23 a lot of the time). Wind and undulating terrain will cause the speed to fluctuate constantly and the predetermined target average is based on previous experience of the route, current weather conditions and the group make up. So how fast should you go? When you are in the "on deck" position, waiting for your pull take note of the current speed and perhaps the average if you have that info on your speedo, when your turn comes see to it that you hold more or less the same as the guy/gal did before you, IF the terrain stays the same. Newbies will often make the mistake of accelerating too much, which causes uneven speed in the pack and also tiring themselves out so they can't manage their pulls later in the ride.
     
  12. tesnusxenos

    tesnusxenos New Member

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    Thanks for all of this thread. I am thinking of doing my first race on April 10 and I have never ridden with a group! ( I live way out in the sticks) I am very nervous about the group thing.Please give me any additional race related hints if you have them.
     
  13. chh55

    chh55 Drink plenty of water!!!

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    Try to get into a group to train before the 10th of April! You have a lot to learn! B4 you enter a race you absolutely must feel confident in a tight paceline... otherwise you jeopardize your own safety but more importantly everyone elses.
     
  14. funetical

    funetical Slowin it up.

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    Do you see a lot of newbies causing issues in pace lines?
     
  15. chh55

    chh55 Drink plenty of water!!!

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    ... it requires confidence and that comes from experience. Newbies tend to be nervous and make twitchy moves which can cause problems. Also dumb stuff like dropping a water bottle.
     
  16. tesnusxenos

    tesnusxenos New Member

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    If I can't find a group to train with I just plan on staying in back of the peloton until the mountains get steep and the group disperses (I have watched this race and they are in singles and pairs after the first ten miles) do you think that would be ok?
     
  17. Farnsworth

    Farnsworth New Member

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    That would be both bad and embarrassing.
     
  18. chh55

    chh55 Drink plenty of water!!!

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    [ do you think that would be ok?[/QUOTE]

    It sounds like a plan... even if it won't make you very popular with the other riders. Using the slipstream to your advantage without contributing by drawing once in a while, and then making a dash when everyone is tired is a proven technique but seen as unsportsmanlike by many. Given the circumstances though I'd go with it as your plan since a race situation is not the place to try riding in the pack for the first time. To use the slipstream you need to be in tight, the closer the better. Hopefully you have at least one buddy you can train this with.
     
  19. chh55

    chh55 Drink plenty of water!!!

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    Also...be ready with your "race face" to counter the dirty looks you might get from riders who have just been up front ;-)
     
  20. Xela

    Xela New Member Tavern Member

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