Whether you are a novice or experienced pro, do you know the latest bunch riding etiquette?
By Stuart McDougall
Bunch riding etiquette (applies to all types of group riding).
Here is the latest in bunch riding etiquette. Make sure you are familiar with these and practice them for the Tour de Kids (TDK).
- Hold a straight line and steady pace.
- If you overtake a slower rider or bunch do not move left over the top of them, wait until you are well clear to move back in front of them, so the riders behind you do not cut them off.
- If you are on or near the front of the bunch, you should call out hazards such as holes, glass, debris and others should pass the message back down the group.
- On descents the riders at the front must keep pedalling (e.g. don’t coast or freewheel) to minimize the braking of trailing riders.
- When riding in the bunch, don’t be afraid to come to the front to do a turn because you think you need to be on the front for a long time, or because you have seen other fitter or more experienced riders take long turns. You will gain experience and respect from other riders in the group if you do a turn at the front, even if it is only for a few hundred meters. Don’t stay on the front for too long or until you “blow-up”, so that when you slide to the rear of the bunch you cannot hold the bunch speed.
- To gain maximum advantage of riding in a bunch (reducing wind resistance) the two lines of riders need to be close together. Keep to the left of the lane and ideally the right hand line of riders is in the middle of the lane rather than on the right hand side.
- Keep your head up and look ahead not down at the ground or rear wheel in front of you or the rider next to you who you are chatting to.
- DON’T "HALF WHEEL”. Half wheeling is where one of the riders on the front of the group, moves slightly ahead of the other rider (e.g. a half wheel length) causing the other rider to increase their speed to “catch-up”. If the original rider then “half wheels” again, the speed of the bunch slowly increases as everyone tries to keep up.
- Don’t overlap your wheel with that of the rider in front, if they swerve to avoid a hazard you will fall and bring down the riders behind you. It is a dangerous practice!
- When approaching traffic lights the front riders need to call either “stopping “ or “rolling”.
- If the bunch has to change lanes, then the riders on the front should indicate the need to do so by raising an arm and pointing the direction the bunch has to take. Those at the rear have responsibility to see whether it is safe/unsafe to change lanes and call either “wait” or “over” as is applicable. The riders at the rear of the bunch then move into the new lane to make it safe for those in front to come across. Use only “Wait” or “Over’, and no other variation that may confuse.
- Pass calls up and down the bunch. Don’t assume that because you have heard, that either the riders in front (for calls from the rear), or riders to the rear (for calls from the front) have heard. It is often riders at the rear that suffer pinch flats and the like because calls of hazards from the front are not properly passed down the bunch.
- After stopping for traffic lights, if you are on the front you should accelerate slowly so as to not put those at the back of the bunch under pressure by requiring them to sprint to get back on. Remember the bigger the bunch, the bigger the ‘elastic band” effect.
- Carry at least one spare tube with a valve stem length suitable to your wheel depth, some gas cartridges and dispenser on any training ride.
See you on one of our rides soon! (or see you at the TDK for those living outside Sydney)
- Stuart McDougall