Point Out Hazards
Flat tyres are bad for everyone, especially when you’re in a group that stops to wait for the affected rider. Minimize flats by physically pointing to the holes, glass and random car parts that litter the roadside. This hand signal needs to travel all the way back, so pass it on so people behind you get the message. Reserve audible warnings for really dangerous situations.
Be Proactive Around Safety And Pacing
Nobody likes being shouted at constantly, and certainly not during a nice group ride but there are some times when it’s good to speak up. The riders at the back should let the group know when they need to single up to better share the road with cars or when there is a particularly large vehicle coming around.
The riders in about the third row of a double line are in a good position to call for an adjustment to the pace. At this point in the group you can tell if the riders around you are struggling with the speed or the wind direction. Riders in the first and second rows can sometimes misjudge their pace and position relative to the rest of the group.
Stay Off The Brakes
You’re going to need to make minor speed adjustments in a group ride and you want to do this with air resistance rather than braking whenever possible. That means sitting up a bit and/or moving out into the wind a little to slow down, or tucking into the draft and pedalling a bit more to speed up. When you tap the brakes you slow more abruptly and that signals the rider behind you to tap his brakes, and so on. Obviously there are times when you need to and should use the brakes, but try to make minor speed adjustments without braking to avoid a jerky riding experience for everyone around you.
Pull longer, Not Harder
If you’re feeling like Superman/woman or you’re the fast rider of the group, don’t ramp up the speed when you get to the front. It’s not nice and it makes the pace uncomfortably hard for your friends. Instead, ride the groups pace and stay at the front longer. You’ll get the training you want and give the rest of the group some extra time in the draft.
Pull Shorter, Not Slower
If you don’t have the fitness to take a long pull at the groups pace, you should still rotate through like everyone else, but just pull off quickly. There’s no rule that says you have to take a pull equal to the rider before you. The rule is that you have to pull at the groups pace. Don’t slow down, bercause then everyone stacks up behind you. For a smoother experience for everyone, keep it short and pull off.
Pace The Climbs For The Middle Of The Group
When the pack hits rolling hills it can be hard to keep the group together, especially when “that guy” drills it on the front. When drafting is less of a help to the riders in the middle and rear of the group ride, it’s important for the riders at the front to consider everyone when establishing the climbing pace. On social group rides it’s typical to wait at the top of longer climbs, but to minimize the frequency of these stoppages, try to set a pace that’s comfortable for the middle of the group. This may mean it’s a bit easy for the fast guys at the front and pretty challenging for some folks at the back, but this pacing strategy is good for keeping the group together over the majority of hills.
Shift As You Stand Up
When you stand up to pedal your weight shifts and your cadence almost always slows. This can result in what is known as “kickback” where your rear wheel seems to kick backwards towards or into the front wheel of the rider behind you. This can lead to you tapping or overlapping wheels and can cause a crash. To avoid this, shift up once or twice into a harder gear as you rise from the saddle. With your full bodyweight over the pedal you can push a bigger gear at lower cadence and maintain your speed without causing a kickback.
Don’t Pull So Hard You Drop Yourself
Social group rides tend to wait for dropped riders, which is great, but try not to make them wait for you because you were riding like an idiot. If you take monster pulls at the front and then get dropped, you’re not making any friends. Learn to gauge your efforts and keep something in the tank to make sure you can latch onto the back of the group and stay on the wheel.
Don’t Show Up Late And Unprepared
We’ve all been late at some point, an we’ve all forgotten something important (like food) before. It happens, but it shouldn’t happen often. Be on time and be self-sufficient. This includes tools and a pump.
Don’t Half Wheel
The right way to ride in a double paceline is handlebar to handlebar, not half a wheel ahead of the rider next to you. Half wheeling upsets people, especially when you accelerate to maintain the half wheel advantage despite your partners attempt tp pull even with you. It also messes up the spacing for everyone else in the paceline behind you.
Don’t Run Red Lights
Just don’t do it. Besides being unsafe, against the law, and damaging to our collective reputation, it’s also disrespectful to all the groups who are working hard to convince communities to improve cycling infrastructure and enhance cylclists’ safety.
Don’t Get The Whole Group In Trouble Or In Danger
When you decide to join a group ride it’s like joining the Musketeers: all for one and one for all. For the safety and efficiency, the whole group needs to move with one mind. This is most important when you are at the front. Can the whole group make it through the green traffic light? Is there enough space in the traffic for the whole group to turn left? Though everyone has to be responsible for himself or herself, try not to make riders at the back have to decide between a dangerous situation and staying with the group.