Our Group Riding Guide is here to ensure you have a fantastic ride in the company of others. There are the benefits of social interaction with your fellow riders, and the added bonus of drafting, resulting in you going faster/easier than you would if you were riding solo. Who doesn’t like free added speed!
Although there are many benefits to group riding, it can feel a little daunting if it’s something you’ve not done much of before. Please don’t let that put you off joining a group ride, the folks at SSVC are always a welcoming bunch and will have you fitting right in and enjoying group rides in no time.
Please remember to always follow the rules of the road as laid out in the Highway Code. It is important to make sure that there are never more than 2 riders side-by-side.
Communication is key to having a successful group ride. They differ from riding solo when you always have a great view of the road in all directions. If you spot a hazard then let others behind and in front of you know about it. Below is a list of things that you will see and hear while on a group ride. Don’t worry if this is new to you, you’ll soon pick it up after a few group rides.
|The bane of a cyclist’s life, and as certain as death and taxes! These pesky holes in the road are an annoyance in a car but can be dangerous on a bike. Riders at the front of the group should make sure to point at upcoming potholes in good time to allow riders behind time to react. Riders down the group should pass this message on down the line.
Pointing is often accompanied by a shout of “Hole!”, particularly for the larger holes. The calling of holes helps alert riders who may be chatting, looking at their bike computer, looking at the scenery, etc., that may not see a hole being pointed out.
|There are times when it’s useful for the group to know of an oncoming car, typically on narrow roads (especially roads without white lines to separate traffic) or when the group is out to the right of the lane to pass parked cars (see below for indicating parked cars, etc.), generally anytime there may be a possibility of a collision with oncoming traffic. This is indicated by a shout of “Car up!” from the front of the group and is usually echoed back through the group to ensure all are aware.
|There are times when it’s useful for the group to know of a car approaching the rear of the group, this is indicated by a shout of “Car back!” from the rear of the group and is usually echoed forward through the group to ensure all are aware. This ensures that no one makes any sudden movements towards the centre of the road while a car may be about to pass.
|Similar to spotting a hole, riders typically point and/or shout “Gravel!” down the line to warn each other.
as parked cars
|There are plenty of occasions where the lane you are in is partially blocked by cars and other things at the side of the road. In this case, the riders at the front will put their left arm behind their back with their hand pointing to the right-hand side, indicating you should move out toward the centre of the road. This should be done by each rider down the line so that everyone all the way to the back of the group is aware of the hazard.
|There are times when the group needs to slow down, e.g. approaching a junction, traffic lights, etc. At these times it is very helpful to shout “Slowing!” down the line to alert the riders behind that they need to ease off a little or brake. This avoids any sudden braking and collisions with fellow riders behind you.
|Similar to “slowing”, this is under circumstances when you think you are going to need to stop. You’re probably about to brake harder here than for the “slowing” scenario so it’s even more important to ensure that your ride mates are aware.
|Normally heard when at a junction to ensure the group knows that a car is approaching and you should not be progressing out of the junction.
|As above, at a junction, it is good to shout “Clear!” when it is safe to pull out.
|“Single out!” may be shouted at times when the group should ride single file instead of in pairs. This may be because of situations like a busy main road, or narrow roads.
|These are called out in the appropriate situations to let the group know that they are approaching another road user and will need to take action. In the case of someone walking/running, this usually means moving out from the side of the road and so will often be accompanied by the hand signal behind the back. For horses, you should always slow to a very steady pace and pass giving plenty of room. It’s best not to freewheel past horses as the sound can sometimes spook them.
|If the front of the group is going a little quickly for others behind, or some people are dropping off the back of the group, then a shout of “Ease up!” will be heard to let the people at the front know to slow down a little.
Here are a few handy Global Cycling Network videos on YouTube that cover some of the signals above, plus a few other riding etiquette points:
- How to Ride in a Group of Cyclists
How to Ride in a Group – Group Riding Etiquette
- How To Use Hand Signals Whilst Cycling | Essential Group Ride Communication For Bike Riders
There are many GCN videos covering all aspects of cycling that are well worth a watch!