We posted something similar to this a number of years back, and have decided to run the piece again due to the increase in club membership (and also as a reminder to more experienced cyclists)
The following is a list of pointers to be followed by everyone taking part in a group ride with the cycling club.
We would ask that all cyclists ride with a group that matches their ability on club spins. If you are too strong for a particular group neither you nor that group will enjoy the experience or gain any benefit from it, and you should step up a level. Likewise if the group you want to go with contains cyclists that are of a much higher fitness level than you perhaps it would be wise to drop down a group for a few weeks until your fitness increases and you can manage the longer/faster rides. If you do go with a group not matching your ability on a repeated basis it is to be expected that you will be left behind, or asked to slow down on the road at some stage.
Also please note that Sunday spins leave the clock at 9:00 on a Sunday morning. This means ready to go at 9 sharp not arriving and then get ready to goat 9:05. Each group can have a route predetermined before departure.
Please gather off the road at the clock, there are other people on the road that need to be considered and there should be plenty of room on the paved area in and around the clock for cyclists to stand. Don’t pull out in front of cars when leaving the clock, it might seem obvious but it does happen.
If multiple groups are going in the one direction leaving town please leave a number of minutes between groups with the fastest going 1st, this allows a gap between groups which may facilitate easier overtaking by cars etc
Try and keep group sizes to 12-14 cyclists, this may not always be possible depending on attendance. Larger groups are less favourable.
- The group rides in two abreast formation. Pair off in twos and rotate at the front every couple of minutes or so. The frequency of rotation depends on the size of the group, the weather, pace etc. Riders will often call ‘up and over’ to indicate that the riders at the front should rotate.
- Maintain a steady straight line.
- No sudden movements. Be predictable with all your actions. Avoid braking or changing direction suddenly. Likewise, don’t get out of the saddle abruptly. It could cause the rider behind to hit you.
- Lead riders should use hand signals to indicate stopping or turning as well as clearly audible shouted instructions.
- Riders at the rear should warn of approaching cars, particularly on narrow roads. Call out for vehicles – shout “car up!” & “car back!” Panicked cries are not necessary just loud enough for the person in front/behind to pass on the call.
- Point out and call out any road hazards ahead. These include potholes, drains, speed ramps, animals, parked cars, opening car doors, wet or icy road surface, etc.
- Don’t overlap wheels. A slight direction change by the rider in front could easily catch you out. If you ‘touch wheels’ with the rider in front it’s tough to keep upright.
- Make sure to keep pedalling downhill when you are at the front of the group so that the riders behind don’t bunch up behind you. It can be a bit fraught if everyone has to reach for their brakes. Change into the big ring going downhill if conditions/speed require it.
- Be smooth with your turns at the front of the group. Avoid surges. Stay alongside and don’t increase the pace to move a half wheel ahead of the rider alongside. He/she will have to speed up to maintain the two-by-two formation and the speed will escalate unnecessarily. Don’t acquire a reputation as a ‘half-wheeler’!
- Don’t sprint up to take your turn at the front. Move up smoothly with a small increase in pace and ease that pace ever so slightly when you move alongside.
- Avoid leaving gaps when following wheels. Cyclists save a huge amount of energy by following in the slipstream of the rider in front. However, don’t become mesmerized by the rear brake of the rider in front as you concentrate on staying close as there’s a good chance you’ll ride into it! Keep looking well ahead to spot hazards and terrain changes.
- When climbing hills, avoid following a wheel too closely. Many riders often lose their momentum when rising out of the saddle on a hill which can cause a sudden deceleration. This can often catch a rider who is following too closely, resulting in a fall from a wheel touch.
- Don’t panic if you brush shoulders, hands or bars with another rider. Try to stay relaxed in your upper body to absorb any bumps.
- Wear a helmet on all club spins and make sure your bike is in good working order.
- Use mudguards in winter as a courtesy to other riders.
- Bring a minimum of one spare tube, tyre levers and a pump. A second spare tube and a multi tool can be useful too. Also, bring some money in case you need emergency food supplies and a mobile phone in case you get stranded.
- Bring plenty of water or sports drink.
- If the spin is going to be more than two hours, make sure to bring food. Start eating after about an hour and a half. The golden rule is to eat ‘a little and often’.
- Dress for the weather, and bring a spare jacket if rain is expected. Use your initiative regarding the conditions, if it looks like the weather is too bad to go out but the spin hasn’t been officially cancelled, perhaps it is better to stay indoors!
- Relax and don’t forget to have fun!