A group ride is a great thing! It increases one’s ability to go faster while simultaneously decreasing perceived exertion. This is often done by drafting off of the rider in front of you in an effort to reduce the forces of wind (natural or created by you) on you as a rider.
There are three basics to group riding that will make other cyclists want to ride with you and even fight over your wheel because they trust you.
When riding in close proximity to other riders, the most important thing you can do is be predictable. This could mean that you are pointing your hand to where you are going, are telling riders of debris and anything in the road, but, most importantly, it means to be slow and calculated in your movements. Unlike in basketball, you want to telegraph your movements so that others know what to expect of you. No swerving, panicked braking or other erratic movements.
Pull Through Smoothly
It is very easy to get caught up in the excitement of a group ride, especially when it is your turn you go to the front and give it everything you have to “help the group.” While in theory this is a very selfless act, it actually puts a strain on the entire group. The people sitting on your wheel will have to close the gap and the rider who has just pulled off the front of the group now has to work very hard to get back on.
We recommend you use your tools to help you with this. As the person pulls off in front of you and it is your turn to pull through, cadence and speed should not change drastically. The force applied to the pedals will increase, as you are catching more wind, but, by maintaining speed and cadence, you will ensure that the effort stays the same for all people involved.
Watch What is Ahead
It is easy to fall prey to the nasty habit of staring at the wheel of the person in front of you. However, your eyes should be focused over the should of the rider in front of you. This allows you to see what is going on up the road and respond before it becomes a panic situation, but still allows you to use your peripheral vision to maintain a safe distance to the rider in front of you.
When on the front of the group you are responsible for the safety of the entire group. It is important that you are scanning the road for hazards and signalling for them in whatever manner your group deems as helpful.
Are you unsure how to get into a group ride and what to look for? Be sure to read our blog on your First Time in a Group Ride and learn some best practices for your first time riding with a new group. Maybe you have that group and are wanting to learn more! Continue on to Group Riding 201 and increase your knowledge