4 Tips to Ride Safely in a Biking Group
Did you know that about 2 percent of crash deaths in the United States involve cyclists? Cycling accidents can happen in both individual and group riding trips although the latter may pose higher risks.
This is because too many cyclists on the road can mean there are too many situations that can result in accidents. When riding in a group, whether you’re in a recreational or racing situation, keep these tips in mind for effective, enjoyable and safe riding.
Riding Safety Tips When Riding in a Group
This is probably the most important tip in riding safety when in a group. You must avoid sudden movements in terms of direction and speed especially when in a tight group arrangement.
You have to keep your direction and speed as smooth as possible – sudden movements will increase the risks of collisions and crashes among all riders. You must also assess the skills level of your fellow riders.
If you seem to be a more experienced rider than the rest of the group, you have to give the less experienced riders as much room as possible. You’re doing so to reduce your risks for collisions and crashes, since their reaction times and abilities will not be as quick and good as yours.
Stay in Your Line
You have to avoid weaving across the road, even when it means passing the chance to be at the front. You have to keep your relative position in relation to the edge of the road at all times, if possible, even around corners.
You may have to go through a minor obstacle on the road, such as a pothole, but keep to your line nonetheless.
Your sudden swerve in either direction can take out the entire group behind your back, even unnerve the riders on your front. When you want to move in front of a rider, you have to ensure not to cut them up for safety purposes.
You should also avoid sudden braking since sudden changes in speed can rattle the group. If you must stop, you have to signal the group about it. If the group has to stop, you have to keep your relative position but don’t take advantage of it by overtaking the others.
Announce Hazards to Your Group
Group riding safety requires that every rider looks out for the welfare of his fellow riders. Otherwise, the entire group, whether on the same or rival team, will be at risk for injuries.
You must then announce the hazards ahead by loudly calling them out but without looking back at your fellow riders.
Your announcement will be passed on from rider to rider, which is essential since the riders several meters behind are unlikely to see the hazards. You can just call out, “Dog”, “Bottle”, or “Pothole” for this purpose.
And speaking of looking back, you shouldn’t look behind your back. Otherwise, you will likely change your line or slow down your speed, which will cause collisions among yourselves.
Even when you hear a crash behind your back, just keep pedaling forward – the group behind will slow down and stop.
If you cannot announce the hazards ahead, you can also use signals for turning and stopping, as well as for various objects. You must also call out when you intend to pass another rider, such as calling out “On your left” so that he will be alerted to your move.
When passing, keep these rules of the road in mind:
Patience is key in passing. This is so true when dealing with slower riders on tight roads, hills, and rough areas.
Announce Hazards to Your Group
Inclines and declines are the bane of group riders because too many things can go wrong. You have to remember these tricks of the trade to maintain group safety:
On an ascent, you must avoid pushing your bike back while standing up to get out of your saddle. You can also keep your speed constant by exerting slightly more pressure on the pedal.
On a descent, you have to keep pedaling if you’re at the front of the pack. This will prevent the riders behind you to sit on their brakes, an irritating thing if it happens to you during a group ride.
You’re also well-advised to keep both of your hands firmly on the handlebar, especially on the drops, so that you can still be upright even when hitting a bump or hole at speed.
Close the Gaps
Effective group cycling requires maintaining a good balance between keeping your distance and closing the gap. In general, you shouldn’t let gaps develop between you and your fellow riders at your front.
Your group cycling session will be more efficient – more power to the pedal – when the spaces are filled.
In cycling parlance, this is known as riding two-by-two or riding side-by-side. The distance between you and your fellow riders at your sides should only be a few centimeters with your handlebars almost touching each other.
But there’s an exception to the rule. When you’re riding in a group with an uneven number of cyclists, your best bet is to place yourself between the two cyclists on your front. Your front wheel will then be positioned between their two rear wheels.
You’re committing a major faux pas when you position yourself directly behind the cyclist on your front, thus, leaving a gap to your side. The bar-to-bar rule is widely accepted because it keeps the group in a tight formation.
Indeed, cyclist etiquette on and off the road is a must for every rider to follow. These rules of etiquette are in place so that every cyclist, no matter his/her knowledge, skills and style, will enjoy the rewards of biking. Be nice to your fellow riders and you will gain new friends along the way!