Group Riding with The Forty-Plus CC - Some Common Sense Guidelines
Our members come from a variety of backgrounds and many are not used to riding in a group. Whilst group riding is not particularly difficult, it is different from riding on your own. These guidelines suggest best practice to stay safe on the road. Newcomers, experienced club members and leaders may all find this guidance useful.
These guidelines have been divided into four areas:
When riding in a group there will be other riders ahead of you and behind you. As we usually ride fairly closely together, you may not be able to see the road ahead clearly and you may be blocking the view of riders behind you. This means you may not see oncoming dangers as soon as you otherwise would, and so may not be able to react to them in time. To avoid consequential excitements, you need to recognise that you have a duty to act as the eyes and ears for the others in the group, by warning of any problems ahead or behind you that others should know about. There are various means for doing this, including the use of various hand gestures and / or cycling specific phrases (see jargon buster at the end). The mechanism and vocabulary are not crucial – it is timely and accurate communication that counts.
Common sense dictates what needs to be communicated to your fellow riders.
Ahead of you:
On a slightly different tack – mudguards, or more accurately lack of them, frequently cause angst for your fellow riders. If your bike lacks full mudguards (ideally with mud flap), then, when riding on wet roads, you will spray anyone behind you with muddy water. This is not the best way to win new friends, so you should really consider riding at the back of the group in wet weather – maybe even behind the sweeper (or better still - just fit some mudguards and mud flaps).
Be aware that sometimes riders do not feel comfortable with someone alongside them – e.g. if they want to concentrate on where they are going, be able to see the rest of the group and not feel pressurised into going too fast.
The most common scenario in the Forty Plus is leisure touring rides where members ride two abreast to enjoy good camaraderie and talk to each other en route.
Some sections have faster rides where experienced cyclists ride two abreast and travel in a tight formation to cover the ground as efficiently as possible. Forming a few compact groups can also allow spaces for cars to overtake a big group in stages. This type of club ride is a specialised situation and relies on very close co-operation and trust.
If you ride two abreast, please remember:
In summary, two abreast is OK but only between consenting (and co-operating) adults, but even then should only be done where conditions allow – that means mainly on long straight wide roads.
Moving from riding two abreast to single file is generally referred to as "singling out".
If you need to single out:
Practises vary between sections but generally, on group rides, there will be both a leader who heads the group and a “sweeper” or “back marker” who rides at the rear to ensure nobody is left behind and that any problems within the group can be identified and dealt with. The leader and sweeper are collectively responsible for getting the group safely (and enjoyably) to the destination and both should know the planned route.
The leader will normally work on the assumption that if / when he can see the sweeper then everyone is present and correct – this only works when group members ride behind the leader and ahead of the sweeper. Make sure you know who the leader and sweeper are and accept that, if you do go ahead of the leader or behind the sweeper, you are responsible for your own navigation and welfare. If you do decide to leave the group (e.g. to make your own way to lunch or back home) then please advise the leader or sweeper that you are doing this, otherwise they may feel the need to delay the whole group to wait for you.
If there is no designated sweeper, it is particularly important for the leader to keep track on whether everyone is still with the group and for those riding in the group to keep an eye on those behind them.
To help the leader and sweeper there are several other things you can do including:
If there are a lot of riders, then more than one group may be formed. Please remain with the same group, unless the leader is aware that you are changing group.
On the topic of “keeping up” the natural reaction is to try to keep the rider in front in sight. The result is that faster riders end up at the front of the group and the slower ones drift towards the rear. This will put the slower riders under pressure and can spoil their day – especially if they end up being dropped (i.e. left behind). Instead of keeping up with the one in front it is more effective to maintain awareness of those behind you. If you cannot see them – especially at significant road junctions - then wait for them to appear. In that way the group is naturally paced to the slower riders – remember we do promise to wait for everyone – and it might be you who is struggling!
Unfortunately we do have to share the road with other users – notably cars, lorries, buses etc. It’s worth noting that they all are:
The general rule here is to do everything we can to:
The first obvious step is to be aware when another vehicle is approaching the group – from the front or rear. To this end, on quiet lanes without regular traffic, the leader / sweeper will generally warn of an impending vehicle and you should pass the message up or down the line as appropriate.
The next step is to make it easy for the other vehicle to get past the group: the driver needs to see a clear way past the group and to assist you should:
To try to avoid antagonising other road users:
Avoid blocking junctions:
A couple of finals "do"s:
Our aim is to ride safely and avoid accidents. However, it is advisable to have some guidelines as to what to do should the worst happen.
Be prepared – see the advice on our first aid page.
If the rider has fallen in the road and is immobile:
Work out whether emergency services should be called and if so:
The ride leader, or a responsible person, should stay with the injured party.
The leader should decide whether the emergency contact person should be informed. Emergency contact numbers for members should normally be compiled by section secretaries and regular riders should carry copies (hard copies or on your phone); members should also be carrying their own ICE (in case of emergency) card (available from section secretaries) but this may not always be accessible.
Finally, if the injured rider can not take their bike home, find somewhere safe to leave it.
Establishing your location
If you have a smart phone with a GPS it is worth downloading an app that can find your grid reference (e.g. Grid Reference by Arthur Embleton - Android) and an app that has off-line maps (e.g. ViewRanger, Locus or Orux - remember to download the maps you might need over Wi-Fi when setting it up). If you give your OS grid reference to the emergency services, please remember to include the two letter grid identifier before the 6 digit grid reference.
And Finally …
Following an accident incurring medical treatment, or any accident involving a third person not on the ride, an incident report form (as published by the CTC) should be prepared by the ride leader within 48 hours of the incident. The completed form should be submitted promptly to the Section secretary.
It is every rider's responsibility to relay calls forwards and backwards within the group by repeating them for the benefit and safety of all those on the Ride.