The first time I went for a group ride I was terrified. Even though I have tens of thousands of kilometres under my bum from cycling, being in a group of riders at 50 km/h or more requires concentration and a lot more courage than pedalling on my own. Brad Khun who was in one group I rode with in D.C. wrote the following on riding don’ts. Some good advice …
After a ride, I was talking to my wife about some of the dangerous riding that occurs. She asked me how riders learn proper riding technique. I was at a loss. I’ve been riding for over 55 years, and raced for 12 years in my younger days. I just didn’t know how riders learned, unless they had coaching from there personal coach or a club coach.
I reversed the question and asked my wife how she thought one would learn to ride properly. She suggested that I write an article that people would read. So, here it is. I doubt that this article encompasses everything, but I’ll try and cover some of the main gripes from many of the people I ride with.
- Ride and pedal consistently. Don’t pedal and coast. Keep pedaling. Instead of coasting, soft pedal, so when the pace picks up you can immediately push and catch up. Many riders will pedal and coast when their legs get tired. This is natural, but don’t jump to front or middle of a paceline and pedal and coast. Never ever coast on an uphill unless you intentionally want to take down the rider behind you! Also, when you transition from sitting to a standing position, don’t coast, but drop into a higher gear and keep pedaling. Don’t coast in the transition. Keep your speed up.
- Hold your line on turns. Do not cut in to a tighter position or outer position unless you absolutely know that no one is around you.
- When riding in a paceline and you start to go faster then the person ahead, pull out of the paceline to slow down, rather than use the brakes.
- If you are behind a person that pulls out of the paceline to slow down, it is not an opportunity for you to jump ahead in the paceline. Stay where you are at and leave room for the person who pulled out to return to their previous spot.
- Don’t jerk around in a paceline or pack. You need to ride smoothly and not jerk from side to side, or drop back, speed up, and then hit the brakes. You need to match the speed and riding consistency of the rider ahead of you. Watch the pedals of the person ahead of you. The pedaling will alert you to what they are doing.
- When you coast around a corner, coast with the outside pedal in the down position, not the pedal on the inside of the turn. If the pedal on the inside is down, you weight is not balanced, it is on the inside of the turn and any gravel or slipperiness will cause the bike to slide. Weight on the outside pedal is more balanced and much safer. Also, the inside pedal might hit the ground and take you down.
- Don’t overlap wheels! Stay in back of the rider in front of you, or ride next to them. If you overlap wheels and that person zags, you will be going down. If you are next to them, you can push back if they move over. You also do not want to tap the wheel of the rider in front. Chances are you will go down. Remember the rider in back takes the fall.
- Sometimes there are rumble strips along the roadway. If you run into the rumble strips, do NOT try and recover and go back on the roadway. The same applies if you go off the roadway, do NOT try and go back on the roadway. Keep going and slow down prior to going back on the roadway. If you try and recover, you will go down. The rider behind you will miss you, but a rider further back will run over you and your bike.
- If it is wet and raining the roads will be slippery. Leave extra room when you near a turn. Your brakes will not stop you quickly, and if they do you will skid. Leave room for the rider in front of you to go down, so you can go around them or stop.