Cycling with the Club
The main activity of the Club is group rides, one on Saturdays and several (for different abilities) on Sundays. All are listed on the website, and each has a leader. New riders are expected to participate in an Introductory Ride before one of the other rides.
Occasionally, when the weather forecast is very bad, rides may be cancelled; if you choose to go out, however, you may find that others have also decided to go to the meeting point for an ad hoc ride. The main danger, in the winter, is ice, which can be difficult to see.
The Leader of the ride is a volunteer from the membership who tries to ensure that rides are run as safely and smoothly as possible. He, or she, organises the route, tries to ensure that the ride proceeds with consideration for other road users, and is generally the point of reference in the event of emergencies such as punctures, accidents, mechanical breakdowns, etc. But note that you are responsible for your own safety; the Leader is not.
The Leader may, depending on numbers, split up the group into two; the intention is to keep a clear distance between them to enable traffic to overtake. On narrow or busy roads you may be asked to ride single file for the same reason. However, it is usual for us to ride in a compact group, two abreast where sensibly possible, as allowed by the Highway Code. It is not helpful if some ride in the middle of the road, or several metres off the front or back of the group. As a new rider your level of skill should enable you, before too long, to ride close to others.
The leader may appoint a back-marker to be his ‘eyes’ at the back of the group, who will also help in keeping the group together.
The leader may refuse anyone to ride with their group if they feel that individual will not follow the guidelines below, and leaders can stop riders joining their group if the rider intends riding without a cycle helmet.
You, the individual rider, should comply with the leader’s requests and, in any case, follow the “Guidelines for group rides”, below. Please also carry a form of identification with you, and emergency contact details (which may be ‘ICE’ on your phone).
Check your bike before the ride, including your tyres for embedded flints and thorns. Carry a spare tube (or two), a pump, and tyre levers.
Guidelines for group rides
Why should I read this boring stuff ??
Well, we share the roads with others – motorists, runners, horse riders and pedestrians – some of whom are bigger and tougher than us. So we need to ensure that our rides are safe and well-conducted to minimise the risks to ourselves and others.
Many members of ARCC are new to cycling with a club and don’t know what is required of them on club rides. Why should they ? No-one has told them!
Your Club has drawn up these Guidelines to improve the standard of riding on Club rides; there is no wish to spoil the pleasure which we derive from these sociable events, rather, it is the reverse.
We will feel happier if we are safer, but it needs a bit of discipline and teamwork.
Each ride has a Leader ….
…. who is responsible for the route and the general conduct of the ride. You should ensure that you know who your leader is. At the start the ride leader may wish to give advice and information for the particular ride; perhaps about the route and what is expected of you. Listen to her, or him, and do what is required of you.
What do I need to do, then ?
Difficult, isn’t it ? There is more traffic than ever, and the same applies to potholes, so it is not easy to ride as a compact, orderly, group, which is what we need to do.
This is what your Club needs you to do:
- ride at the pace of your leader
- ride alongside someone (“two abreast”). The Highway Code allows it. And it’s sociable.
- “Single out” when told to do so by your leader or the back marker; this would generally be on busy or narrow roads so that traffic is not impeded
- maintain an even, appropriate, pace. Avoid surging or late braking. Your leader may not always be at the front of the group and she, or he, will not want to leave riders behind
- if there is a gap in the group consider filling it. Gaps cause the group to become disorderly and less compact.
- go at your own speed up steep hills. The Club’s policy is to regroup at the top. But stay in the group up shallow gradients and minor hills
- call out about, and point to, hazards such as potholes, oncoming cars in narrow lanes (“car down”) and cars behind (“car up”) – this helps the leader to decide when to single out. Also when you are about to slow or stop unexpectedly (“stopping”).
- DO NOT ride more than two abreast
- DO NOT ride in the middle of the road, except in extenuating circumstances. Ride as close to the left as safety allows
- DO NOT go off ahead on your own. Unless you’ve “gone for good”, and you have told the leader!
- DO NOT “half wheel” your companion. What are you trying to prove by persistently being a bike length in front of him ? Have a conversation instead!
- DO NOT overlap the rear wheel in front of you unless there is an escape route. Successive pairs of riders may need to be slightly offset, depending on road conditions, in which case alternate pairs would be offset outside and then inside
- DO NOT “wave past” motorists who are behind you. It is their responsibility to overtake safely; you may wish to be helpful (and we are nice people, aren’t we?) but it is a mistake to do so
- DO NOT stop in the road where you will obstruct traffic. Try to stop at the side of the road (to regroup, mend a puncture, or so on) perhaps in a driveway, field entrance, or similar.
And generally ……
Choose a group (the Club has 7 on Sundays) which is appropriate for your usual speed; if you go with a slower group don’t expect them to speed up for you! And don’t disrupt their pace.
Develop your bike-handling skill so that you can feel confident in a bunch. The cohesiveness of a group depends on it.
Terms used in road cycling
Not sure what the difference is between ‘Half-wheeling’ and ‘overlapping wheels’ ? What hand signals to use when ?
please read our other page British cycling’s guide to group riding