Virtually every day we see cyclists riding in bunches, and to the uninitiated this is often a mystery so in this blog post we thought we’d look at the reasons for riding in a bunch and the corresponding responsibilities.
So, what are the benefits of group riding?
Safety – the saying goes that there’s safety in numbers, so it follows that riding in a bunch is safer than riding alone. A bunch of cyclists is obviously more visible to cars, there’s the protection of being surrounded by others and there are more people to help if something goes wrong…
Faster – there’s an axiom in cycling – if you want to get stronger ride by yourself, if you want to get faster, ride with a group (of stronger cyclists), so there’s a second good reason for joining a bunch ride.
Easier – the draft affect gives an advantage of up to 30% so it follows that riding in a group is actually easier than riding alone. Think about how hard it can be struggling into a head wind by yourself, compared to being protected by a bunch and it becomes a no brainer.
Social – riding in a bunch is a great way to meet people – even if it’s not easy to talk on a ride there aren’t too many rides that don’t end with coffee.
So, there are plenty of good reasons for riding as part of a group BUT, taking advantage of these benefits comes with responsibilities, which is something that is often forgotten.
Ride as a group – if you’re part of a group, you’re part of a group, don’t ride like you’re alone and master of your own destiny. If you’re on the front and go through an intersection, it has to be safe for the entire group to go through, correspondingly, if the lead rider goes, everyone goes. Predictability is the key to safety so there must be an invisible chain connecting the entire group, there’s no room for individuals, think as an individual and you compromise the safety of the group, think like a member of the group and everyone is safe.
Look after each other – point out obstacles, let newcomers know what the group rules are, if someone is struggling, give them a hand or alert the group so that everyone slows down to accommodate them; everyone has a bad day in the saddle and it could be your turn next ride.
Obey the road rules – as an individual you may think it’s okay to bend the road rules (it’s not) but if you do this in a group not only do you look like a dick but you compromise group safety and make the group and all cyclists look like dicks, end of story!
Follow the group rules – if the group rides pace lines, learn how to do it and do it properly; if the group indicates potholes, indicate potholes; if the group rides to a specific speed, ride to that speed – don’t join an established group and try to impose your riding style, if you don’t like the way a group rides then find another group to ride with.
The moral of the story – ride as a team and everyone benefits, ride as an individual and everyone will be better off if you ride alone.