Most group rides observe standard rules of courtesy to ensure everyone has a safe, fun ride. As road cyclists, we tend to ride fairly close together and that means thinking and acting as part of the whole. It means that everyone who attends the ride shows up prepared and looks out for each other. Read on for some basic etiquette that applies to all of our women’s group rides.
— If the ride starts early, plan ahead what you’ll need the night before. I recommend starting with the top (helmet, sunglasses) and working down to the bottom (shoes, socks, shoe covers, etc.).
— Pack nutrition and fill your bottles. Grab ID, credit card, and/or small bills.
— Make sure you have flat tire repair supplies. Even if you’re not sure you can change a flat yourself, bring along a spare tube, pump or CO2, tire levers, and a small mini-tool. A fellow rider will be happy to help you, especially if you’ve got the goods. Or you may be able to help out someone else in need.
If the ride rolls out at 6:30am, try and be there 5-10 minutes in advance with tires pumped and ready to go. Planning to be early is the best way to avoid last minute rushing.
Honor the Golden Rule
Ride like a person you want to ride behind. Always remember that the rider behind you can’t see what’s ahead and are relying on you to point things out. Please err on the side of caution in signaling to other riders about obstacles, traffic, other cyclists, pedestrians, and anything else that could surprise the group. More details about this are below.
Group riding is about many cyclists working together as one unit so everyone is faster together. Take advantage of riding in a pack and work on developing paceline skills so you can benefit from the draft the riders in front of you create. This will allow you to ride farther and conserve energy.
On the road, pass other riders on their left and call out “on your left” as you go by. In NYC’s Central Park, however, the faster groups will pass on your right. Always pay attention to what’s going on around you.
Use Signals and Audibles
Obstacles: Signal to riders behind you if you see obstacles by pointing down at the pavement at debris or potholes (or call out “hole!”). Coming up on a patch of gravel or tons of potholes? Call out “rough road” to warn your fellow riders. If you’re in the middle of the pack, pass the signal or audible down the line to riders behind you.
Slowing: If your group is coming up on a traffic light and you’re in the front, signal to others that you’re about to slow with elbow out and an outstretched hand pointed down at a 90 degree angle, palm side facing back, with a little ‘jazz hand’ action. You can also add an audible “slowing!”
Stopping: To signal a full stop at an intersection, jut the elbow out and make a fist with your hand behind your back. Add an audible “stopping!”
Turning: Signal left by pointing with your left arm; signal right by pointing with your right arm.
Heads Up! Obstacle Ahead: See a parked car, a runner coming towards you, or a slower rider in front of you that you want to pass? Signal to the group by waving behind you and/or patting your low back to make sure your fellow riders pay attention and move in behind you.
Dropping back: If you’ve been pulling the group at the front of the pack and want to move to the back, raise your elbow up to the side you’ll be dropping back to. This is usually to the left unless the situation dictates otherwise.
Clear! If you’re rolling through an intersection and see no traffic, call out “Clear!” to riders behind you.
Car Back! If you’re riding in the back and see a car coming up behind you, call “Car Back” to riders ahead of you. (or ‘Car Right’ for a car that might be pulling out into traffic on your right side, etc.)
End! If you’re the last rider in the group and your group is rotating, let the person dropping back know that you’re the end of the line by calling out “end” or “last.”
We’re on! If the group gets separated because of a mechanical or traffic and the leaders are riding slow waiting to re-group, riders in the back can call out “we’re on” when everyone is back together.
These are just a few basics to help new riders get orientated. All of our Bicycle Habitat women’s rides have experienced ride leaders who can help you get the hang of group riding. The best way to learn is to practice. With time all of the things listed above will become second nature. We look forward to seeing you out there!