By Steve Buccella, Team OAM Now
For new and experienced riders alike, group rides are a great way to train while providing amazing opportunities to learn from, and simply be social with, other riders. Not only do riders sometimes get to learn new routes (variety in training is wonderful), but it’s also a great way to bond with one’s team and either challenge yourself by riding with the lead pack, or recover by hanging with the B pack.
Whether veteran or rookie, it’s important to remember some rules and etiquette for a group ride so that all riders stay safe. In order to ensure the safety of group rides and keep us happy as a team, Team OAM Now maintains a list of guidelines that your riding group or team may wish to incorporate into group expectations as well.
2) Communication is king. Call out traffic and other obstacles like holes, gravel, turns, road kill, etc.. Repeat the call down or up the line. When ”car back” is called, stay far to the right to give the vehicle room to pass. If a rider is dropping off the front, allow them to get into the line quickly until the car passes, then they can continue going to back of line.
3) When taking your turn to pull, match the speed of the rider pulling off. Accelerating or decelerating suddenly causes an unsafe disruption in the line. When on the front, end your pull before you get tired and slow down. It is OK to take a short pull. If you don’t want to pull, take your turn in the rotation up to the front anyway and then quickly signal and roll off.
4) Pull off of the lead by first signaling with an elbow flick or butt bump on the side you are preparing to pull off. Then check traffic in both directions and roll off to the left unless the group is in an echelon. If we are riding an echelon in a crosswind, pull off on the side into the wind NOT into the echelon.
5) If you are one of the riders near the front and the group comes to a turn or intersection that causes the pace to slow down or stop, wait until all the riders can get safely through and then ramp back up to speed slowly. Do not hop across while simultaneously announcing “car left” (or right). This leaves the remaining riders without sufficient information whether they can also cross or must wait with the fear of being dropped. The vehicle driver also does not know if more cyclists will be darting across.
6) It’s not a race. Do not to “attack” off the front or unexpectedly sprint up from the back of the line. Stay in the line in the same position including turns and most hills. If the line gets disrupted on a steep hill, get back into your previous position once at top.
7) The “A” group is a faster ride that will sometimes wait after hills or intersections for riders that get dropped. If you ride with the A’s, be prepared to fall back to the B group (usually just a few minutes behind the A’s) or ride alone if you get dropped. If you decide to drop out of the A group, fade off the back safely. Yo-yo actions in the line cause dangerous situations.
8) The “B” group is a no-drop ride at a slower pace. Pick a pace that will keep the group together and do not try to turn it into an “A” ride. If you want a more challenging ride in the B group, take longer pulls. If you don’t want to pull, take your turn in the rotation up to the front anyway and then quickly signal and roll off. If a rider gets dropped, slow pedal or stop until they catch up.
9) Eat and drink at the back of the line or when stopped at intersections.
10) Do not stand unexpectedly in the line to stretch your back. Standing has the same effect as touching your brakes and can cause a crash.
11) Be a steady and predictable rider and avoid making any sudden moves.
12) Obey traffic laws and use proper hand signals.
Remember, when you are on group ride respect the rules of the road and help the cycling community build good relationships with drivers! If you’re riding with your team, respect your team and its sponsors. None of us are perfect. It is okaya to respectfully call out violations so that we all can enjoy a safe ride.