Join British Cycling

Group Riding Etiquette

The following are general rules and guidelines for riding in a group that you should follow whenever possible.

Why ride in a group?

For several reasons; social, safety, sporting and fitness. And, of course, if you are new to the sport or the area, you won’t get lost.
By riding in a group you’ll learn road skills and be able to chat to more experienced riders, generally speaking it is the best place to learn about how to get into cycling.
When riding in a group or bunch you have a duty of care that should extend to all, including other road users, all riders must comply with the Highway Code.

Ride in two lines

Two parallel lines of riders is the safest and most practical riding formation. All club runs will assume this formation, usually with the ride leader at the front and another experienced rider towards the back. Do not break the line, if you do need to pass another rider make sure it’s safe to do so and the road ahead is clear. Do not ride more than two abreast and keep to the correct side of the road.
There will be times when the group will need to ride in single file if the road space is very narrow such as when a vehicle is trying to overtake the group on a narrow lane. When this happens you will be asked to single out. Riding two abreast also means you get to have a pleasant chat with your neighbour, you may be relieved to know that conversation is not obligatory at any point during a club ride.

Stay close

The benefits of riding in a group are more than just social. You will cover more ground with less effort in a group, saving around 20% of your energy when sitting in the bunch. So stay close to the rider in front to maximise the slipstream and allow riders around you to also use it to best effect. Do not half-wheel (overlap a back wheel with your front wheel) if the rider in front has to avoid a pothole or some other sudden hazard in the road and clips your front wheel, you are going down and you will take others down with you. Everybody half-wheels on occasion but don’t make it a habit.

Don’t ‘switch’ suddenly

Try to be predictable; no sudden changes of direction or speed (acceleration or deceleration) try not to use your brakes unnecessarily, tell the person behind you if you going to brake, hold your line and keep a steady cadence, this is for the rider who may be riding behind and needs to be close and confident that you won’t move suddenly or wobble. The riders in front will not stop suddenly without warning so you won’t have to make any sudden moves.

Relax

Try to relax your upper body as much as possible. This will help prevent fatigue and also prevent you from making sudden changes in direction. Bend the arms a little and keep your head up.

Don’t ride off the front

Depending on the type of group you are riding in, the main principle of group riding is to ride together (either socially or ‘through and off’). If you are feeling good try a turn riding at the front where you will set the pace for the group. Ideally you will maintain the pace that was already being set by the previous rider, sudden accelerations will open gaps in the group. If the group needs to slow to negotiate junctions or other hazards then build up the pace gradually to allow the following riders to close up any gaps.
You are under no obligation to ride on the front, but if you are taking shelter behind others conserving energy, why not use up a bit by riding at the front? It really isn't a problem if you don't feel up to riding on the front, but it won't be appreciated if you spend half a club run sitting behind riders battling a headwind and then shoot off up every hill and sprint off at the end of the ride when they start tiring.

Tell someone if you have a problem

You may be feeling a bit shy about it but tell the riders around you if you have a puncture or mechanical problem or are struggling, don’t drift to the back and off it without telling anyone. If you get dropped on a hill then the group will slow to allow you to catch-up so don’t worry, they won’t abandon you.

Send the message to the front

If you are riding at the back and a rider is dropped for whatever reason tell the riders in front of you and ask them to shout up to the front. The pace can then be adjusted to suit the problem or the group can stop. Once riders have been left behind, finding them and regrouping can be a pain. Everyone in the group should take responsibility and ensure no one gets left behind. Get used to having a quick look behind you, wherever you are in the bunch. If you do this you will be able to see anyone who is struggling, in danger of being dropped or has already been so.

Communicate Clearly

Communicate clearly any hazards and repeat instructions to the riders around you, don’t assume everybody else has heard the shout just because you have.

Car Down: A car coming down the road in the opposite direction to the group, i.e. towards you.

Car Back: A car behind the group waiting to pass.

Car Up: A car is overtaking the group.

Easy or Slowing: The group is slowing or someone needs to brake, this could be because the group is approaching a junction or potential hazard or because other rides are struggling.

Single Out: Move over to the left of the road in single file, do this carefully as riders will need to slow down to make room. This is for when a car is behind and needs extra space to overtake, or if the group is approaching a narrow road or overtaking a line of parked cars or riding on a busier road.
 
Pointing out holes and hazards in the road: This is essential, you must point out drain covers, holes, dead badgers, glass or anything else which may cause harm to a cyclist. Basically if you have to go around it or if someone is likely to hit it let the riders around you know about it, ideally before you need to move or change line.
 
Indicate directions to riders behind: Whether it is slowing down or turning at junctions, large groups need everyone to indicate to others in the group and to other road users, so let them know what you intend to do.