BRC Group Riding Safety Reminder

13th July 2021


I would like to draw yourattention to safety in our group rides. 

 

There have been some incidents over the past few months involvingriders crashing on club rides. Fortunately there have been no serious injuries,however everyone’s safety is always of primary concern. This concern has beenexacerbated recently by the tragic news of a fatal accident on a local club's evening socialride near Chew Valley Lake. These are the same roads we use on Tuesday eveningchaingangs and on clubruns, so it brings home the issue of our vulnerability onbicycles.

 

So it’s probably a good time to remind everyone of a few things whenriding in a group.

 

Mixed ability in a group

Although we try to break the groups into riders of similar ability,whereas this may apply to riding strength, it doesn’t always apply to ridingskill. So invariably, each group may have a mixture of skill and strength. It’sbetter to start with a slower group if you are not yet confident in groupriding, even if you are a strong rider.

 

Taking the wind

We should all be aware of the benefits of slipstreaming and to try andtake your turn at the front if you can, however stronger riders should spendmore time on the front. To get the benefit of slipstreaming, you need to beless than a bike length behind the rider in front. 

 

How close to ride

If you are new to group riding you may feel uncomfortable riding tooclose to begin with. So if that’s the case then lay off the wheel in front abit more, let the rider next to you know that and ask advice from the rideleader or more experienced riders in the group. We all have to learn. As youbuild confidence and start to ride closer, then also ride a little offset, soyou're both behind and slightly further out. That way you can go around therider in front in an emergency. You can also see down the group a bit betterand anticipate problems ahead.

 

Half-wheeling

If you do not know what this means, then ask the ride leader.Basically it means one of the two riders on the front is always pushing thepace ahead of the other and not keeping both wheels level. It is very bad formand if your partner on the front is half-wheeling you then you should feelcomfortable in telling them. Also if you see someone half-wheeling you shouldask them to stop.

 

How to come off the front

This varies depending on the type of ride, be it chaingang orclubrun. 

For a clubrun there are a few options and you should be clear whichyou are using by confirming with the ride leader. First agree you are going tochange by talking to your partner on the front, then shout back to say you wishto change by saying “change” and also indicate by a rotation gesture with yourhand. There are three options which should be agreed before the ride. The firstis to split apart by the rider on the right moving out into the middle of thelane and then allowing the train behind to move through in twos, then the twoof you rejoin at the back. The second is the rider on the right moves ahead oftheir partner and the rest of the group the pass them both and then you bothjoin at the back. The third is a slow chaingang in which the rider on the rightmoves ahead of the rider on the left and then moves over to the left and justthe single line behind moves forward, so you all change partner. This is oftenused when there is a strong headwind and so each rider spends a few minutes onboth the right side and left side at the front.

For chaingang please refer to the details at http://www.bristolroadclub.com/chaingang-etiquette

 

Braking

Braking suddenly is very bad news in a group. Everyone should ride aspredictably and fluidly as possible, with no sudden accelerations,decelerations or swerves. If you feel uncomfortable with the riding of anyrider in the group, you should either tell them that or express your concern tothe ride leader and ask them to talk to that rider. In the event that you dohave to brake suddenly you should shout loudly that you are doing so. You mustbear in mind that with a mix or disc and caliper brakes in a group thatoverbraking can cause crashes. Never brake when you are asked to slow down forothers to catch up, just ease off the pedals a bit and reduce your speedgradually. 

 

Communicating

Having confidence in how those around you ride comes from goodcommunication rather than expert bike handling. Make warnings simple and loudand repeat them all the way down the group. More experienced group cyclists usea kind of spoken 'shorthand' – coupled with simple sign language. Here are someexamples.

Words

• Car down/up/back – there's a car coming from the front/behind/behind

• Easy – back off the pace, there's trouble ahead

• Out – swing out to get around an obstacle, like a parked car

• In – move in towards the side of the road and single out

Gestures

• Hand out to one side – we're turning right/left

• Hand sweeping behind the rider's back – move in or out, in thedirection of the gesture

• Hand patting downwards, or simply held out palm down – slow down

• Cupped hand swept forward or a flick of the elbow – come past

• Finger pointed at the ground – pothole/obstacle 

 

Pace and size of groups

As the summer progresses, we will have more riders and generally wewill try to have a fast, medium and slow group each time, ideally with no morethan 12-14 in a group. The number of groups may increase as needed depending onnumbers. There should always be someone leading the group and that person willsay where you are going and dictate the pace. If you are on the front youshould always be aware of the situation behind you, be it dropped riders ormechanical problems. This specifically applies for clubruns and chaingangsdefined as medium and slow pace. However in the fast groups you may likely getleft behind if you can’t match the pace, so make sure you know where you aregoing.

 

Hygiene

We all have to clear out noses from time to time, but please do thisin a way that doesn’t transmit your snot to someone else. Ideally leave ituntil you are at the back of the group or use your sleeve. 

 

Most importantly, do not put yourself in a position whereby you feeluncomfortable in the group. If you need help or advise, please ask for it.


Ride safe everyone.