We all want to stay safe on our group rides so here’s a few tips for us to think about: Group riding on the road requires excellent bike handling skills, knowledge and adherence to road rules, patience with other riders and traffic, respect for other road users and pedestrians, and lots and lots of practise to make all your movements instinctive and consistent. Putting it all together as well as trying to improve upon your personal performance is why you must ride regularly. Firstly, if you wish to ride with the NCTC group, please ensure you self-seed into the appropriate group for your riding ability. There is no point in trying to hang onto a faster group and finding you frequently have to smash it out to catch up – that’s when accidents are more likely to occur because your mind is in “race” mode. The NCTC rides have an exceptional safety record but there are always days when people make rash decisions on the bike. To minimise the risk of a nasty incident, there are a number of things that individuals can do.
Pre-ride checklist (at home):
- Have you got lights front and back? Charge them overnight and be organised
- Have you got your ID band and does it contain details of your emergency contact person plus your personal identity? Store it in your bike shoes or helmet so you never forget it. Available from the club – $15 for club members with discount voucher
- Leave your headphones at home – strictly forbidden from club rides
- Do you know the ride route? Check the club website link to maps and cue sheet on RidewithGPS
- Check your bike over for road worthiness – ABC check – air, brakes, chain
- Always carry spares – at least 1 spare tube and a pump/gas + inflator adaptor
- Wear your helmet – correctly buckled. Tighten it up when it gets loose
- Leave yourself plenty of time to get to the ride meeting point
- Remember to carry enough water and sports nutrition for your ride
Start Point Checklist (at meeting point):
- Introduce yourself to the group ride leader if you’re new
- Advise the group leader and those around you if you intend to depart the group mid-ride (to go back home, go to work etc). Otherwise we will be waiting for you!
- Stop talking and listen to the ride briefing
- Ensure you ride with the right group for your ability – all club rides cater for different abilities so find your people and start with them
On the Road Checklist:
- Ride courteously – group riding is about being a cohesive unit together. This means you must be aware of those around you and consider their safety in all you do
- Riders at the back can do a lot towards the cohesion of the group in terms of communication. Riders at the back should take notice of what’s happening ahead and always know who’s last. At the regroup point, the ride leader will expect an answer when they ask “have we got everyone?”
- Take notice of riders around you and try to develop a sense of feeling their presence. When someone is starting to struggle their breathing may become audible – try to acknowledge who drops off and when so that at the next regroup point they can be accounted for.
- On windy days, stronger riders will often outpace others. In the interest of group cohesion a little support by way of giving draft assistance can go a long way to avoiding people dropping off the back altogether. If the group is beginning to visibly struggle, and stronger riders feel the urge to overtake, why not take the lead but hold a pace that will allows those struggling to draft off you for a few hundred metres. If there’s a few stronger riders, why not try some roll overs to keep the weaker riders in the draft zone.
- Be aware of your mindset – be “in the moment”. This means don’t daydream and just follow the leader. Be actively aware of what you’re doing, of your surroundings and those around you. Sometimes the person ahead of you will do the wrong thing – you don’t have to follow if you feel it is wrong. Ie. racing through the roundabout when cars are in sight. Yes you might get dropped – tough luck. You can catch up at the next regroup point.
- Club rides are training days, not a race. By all means ride hard if you can but don’t put speed ahead of etiquette and safety.
- Ride confidently and instinctively – use all your senses and stay alert to potential dangers and be ready to react, however don’t be an overcautious rider! Overcautious, nervous riders cause confusion and impatience from those behind and around you.
- Always look over your shoulder before pulling out to pass
- Try to either point out hazards to riders behind or give a verbal call to warn people behind you
- Avoid sudden change of speed – call out “stopping” for hard sudden braking, or “slowing” for easing pace up
- As you ride through a roundabout, look at the entry points and call “clear” or “car right” for the benefit of riders behind you – sometimes what seems obvious to you is not obvious to the group behind and even riders side by side can block one another’s view.
- When riding on single lane roads and there is a bike lane – you must stay within the bike lane to ensure traffic can pass easily. If overtaking, it is your responsibility to check for cars coming up behind you – remember they move much faster – this is where your ego and need to pass needs to be kept in check with safety and etiquette.
- Avoid sudden change of direction – if you tire on a hill climb or are struggling in the wind and find yourself wobbling all over the place think about stronger riders coming up behind you – move over to the left to let them pass without forcing them out into the middle of the road (or onto the other side of the road).
- Never overtake on the left – call out “on your right”, look over your right shoulder to check it is safe to pull out and then pass on the right
- Drafting is fine but requires confidence and practise to perform safely. Never allow your front wheel to overlap the back wheel of the bike ahead (ie. by pulling up to the side a little). If they need to suddenly swerve to avoid an obstacle you are likely to clip wheels and the rider at the back will come off second-best and cause a pile-up of riders following behind.
- Never ride on the tri-bars when riding in a pack/drafting. Only use tri bars on group rides when you are at the front of a group or have at least 7m gap between the rider ahead of you.
- If you are following a few riders and can see that they are constantly checking over their shoulder and braking, chances are they looking for an opportunity to pull out. If you can see that it is clear between you and them, then let them know – call out “clear back”.
- If you need to leave the ride to go home early, tell the riders around you so that they can pass the message up at the next regroup point.
- Most of all – have fun on your bike and be thankful for the opportunity to live in Western Australia where we can ride outdoors year round, and have wonderful people through NCTC with whom we can share the experience of being fit and active! Sometimes we are able to stop for a coffee after rides – we encourage you to make the most of these opportunities to discuss and reflect on the ride and develop your friendships with club members.