Saturday, December 29, 2012

Rules of the Road

How many of you got a new bike for Christmas? Lucky you! How many have set New Year’s resolutions around getting an old bike out on the road? Good for you! One of my favorite things about riding is the social aspect of it. Group riding does come with its’ share of rules and etiquette. Here are a few of the common ones. 

Make sure you know your hand signals before joining a group ride. There are the obvious left turn and right turn signals but there are also slowing down, stopping, turning around, waving someone to go ahead, and pointing out hazards in the road signals. People behind you can't see what is happening in front so these are critical for the safety of group rides. In addition to using hand signals, it is also important to yell out to others what you are doing. Those in the back might not be able to see your hand go up for a turn, but they should be able to hear you call it out. Also be sure to call out any debris in the road, dogs on the side of the road, cars behind you or passing you, speed bumps, pot holes, etc. What may be obvious to the first rider may be hidden to those in the back. Communication is key for a safe ride.

Do not use your aerobars in a group.
Triathletes are notorious for this. In a group ride, your hands need to have quick access to your brakes at all times. It is also harder to control your bike in your aeros. When you’re riding in a tight pack, with wheels centimeters away, stay upright. Save the aero riding for solo rides and race day.

No headphones, earbuds, etc. This is fairly obvious. What’s the point of wearing them if you’re with a group?

Hold a steady pace.
It's not appropriate to get to the front and take the pace up a few notches. If you are struggling to keep the pace, drop back to the end and take a short turn at the front. There are usually designated spots on a group ride where it's known to everyone that the pace is going to pick up for sprints or just because it's fun.

Always be aware.
Group riding can be a great way to be social with friends. While chatting, you still need to be looking forward and have your hands on your hoods with quick access to your brakes. You need to be ready when quick stops or slowdowns happen. If you hit someone's back wheel, it's you that will go down and you’ll take the rest of the pack down with you.

Get off the front and go to the back. If you are riding single file, you signal first then peel off, first checking for traffic behind you. Wait until the last person goes by and take your spot at the back. If you are riding in two lines, one rider goes to the left and the other to the right at the same time, fall to the back, and take your spots as the last riders again. Signal that you are about to go off the front with a quick flick of your elbow.

Group riding is a good way to improve your fitness and meet people. It's also fun to take advantage of the benefits of being in a pack and go faster than you normally would on your own. Keep these tips in mind so it is safe for you and the rest of the group.

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