For many newcomers to cycling, riding in a group or simply cycling alongside other cyclists can be a challenge. To enhance this experience, expedite the learning process, prevent potential accidents, it is essential to develop certain skills, accumulate experience, and learn some trade secrets reliably and effectively. In this blog post, we will share some valuable tips to follow during your bike outings and even during races.
BEING ON TIME AND HAVING EVERYTHING READY
Let’s start with the basics: whether it’s a simple bike ride or an organized cycling event, it’s important to be punctual and have the essential equipment with you. When it comes to group rides, it’s crucial to avoid being the person who consistently arrives late, causing others to wait. In the case of cycling tours, such as guided tours, it’s advisable to arrive at the starting point as early as possible to avoid congestion.
When it comes to equipment, it’s important to remember to wear a helmet, cycling glasses, and choose appropriate clothing while bringing along accessories suitable for the expected weather conditions. It’s advisable to check the weather forecast and prepare in advance. If it’s your first experience, don’t hesitate to seek advice or information about the planned route.
Many bicycle tours include various rest areas, but it’s crucial not to forget to bring enough water and snacks to at least reach the first rest stop or, even better, to complete the entire route independently. You can never be certain about the availability of beverages or food, so it’s best to be prepared to avoid potential stomach issues.
Expanding the scope, it’s always a good idea to have some cash or a credit card with you. Another essential item is your phone, along with a first aid kit containing all the necessary tools for repairs. Of course, the event organizers or fellow cyclists may be willing to help, but it’s your responsibility to ensure you have the necessary equipment.
PAY ATTENTION AND STAY ALWAYS FOCUSED
Maintain constant focus on the road and the cyclists nearby. While enjoyable conversation can make the time more pleasant, it’s essential to remain vigilant at all times to avoid potential road hazards and to promptly notice auditory or visual signals.
There are situations where your awareness of the surrounding environment becomes vital, such as in urban areas, at intersections, and in residential zones, where various obstacles may be present: speed bumps, pedestrian crossings, road signs, animals, pedestrians, and vehicles. Pay special attention when descending downhill, as reduced speed implies shorter reaction times. In every circumstance, remain highly concentrated and alert, with both hands firmly on the handlebars and fingers ready on the brakes.
ALWAYS NOTIFY THE GROUP ABOUT DANGERS OR CHANGES IN DIRECTION
Within a group of cyclists, regardless of the number of participants, the rider at the front has the ability to spot potential obstacles with greater advance notice than the others. Other group members may not have the same visibility, so it’s crucial to use signals or communicate verbally (for example, by briefly alerting about the presence of an obstacle) to prevent hazardous situations. This should also be done if you have a flat tire and need to stop or move. In a group of experienced cyclists, it’s common practice for riders to typically stop on the right side of the road.
MAINTAIN YOUR POSITION WITHIN THE GROUP
The dynamics within a cycling group are influenced by various factors, such as road width and the number of participants. However, in general, when there is sufficient space, the outer route is used for advancing, while the center of the formation is reserved for those in a rearward position. Group cycling requires a lot of patience and collaboration. It’s essential to be flexible in adjusting your pace and position within the group to make room for other cyclists and maximize the benefits of cycling in the company of others.
MAINTAIN SPEED AND DISTANCE
In addition to avoiding sudden steering maneuvers, it’s also crucial to steer clear of abrupt accelerations and sudden braking, especially when it comes to sudden stops, as there is a risk of causing accidents. Try to maintain a consistent and sustainable speed for yourself. If you consistently find yourself pushing your limits, it might not be the right group for you, and you could endanger both yourself and other cyclists.
On the other hand, if you feel the need to brake frequently, you might be in the wrong gear, or the group may be going too slowly for your preferred pace. Using the wrong gear can lead to significant energy wastage. Aim to adjust your gear to maintain a safe distance from the cyclists in front of you and stop pedaling if you’re getting too close. If the group is moving too slowly for your liking, consider taking the lead and initiating a faster pace, but remember that it’s not a race, and group harmony is essential.
ALWAYS BE CAREFUL WHEN YOU STAND ON THE PEDALS
Extending the discussion started earlier, it’s a common practice among cyclists in a group (especially during climbs) to stay in the same gear while pedaling, resulting in undesired slowdowns. This habit can lead to a dangerous closing of the rear wheel to the front wheel of the following cyclist. Taking into account the typical slight swaying motion, the risk of collisions or touching the rear wheel of the cyclist in front becomes significant, with all the potential consequences that may arise.
One strategy to prevent such incidents is to alert the cyclist behind you about your intention to stand up on the pedals. This warning can be communicated through a hand gesture or an elbow movement. Additionally, it’s advisable to practice using the standing position (fuorisella) while simultaneously changing gears to maintain a steady speed.
ALWAYS PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT’S HAPPENING AHEAD
This doesn’t imply that you should disregard all other aspects, but rather that you should focus a significant portion of your attention on the cyclists in front of you. Glancing at the sides is allowed, but only for brief moments.
Considering these considerations, it’s important to emphasize that you should never turn around to look at the rear when cycling together with a group of cyclists. If you need to do so for any reason, make sure to anticipate your action by slowing down and increasing the safety distance with the cyclist in front of you. Keep your hands firmly on the handlebars at all times and return your head to the forward position as soon as possible.
ALWAYS MAINTAIN DISTANCE
Maintaining an adequate distance from the cyclist in front is a crucial factor. This distance should provide you with enough margin to react in case of sudden braking. The actual distance depends on various factors, including your experience, confidence in your skills, current speed, and cycling abilities. Professional athletes can maintain a separation of just a few centimeters, with wheels almost touching. However, unless you are a professional, it’s advisable to keep at least one bike length between you and the cyclist in front. This will allow you to stay alert and enjoy the cycling experience safely. With time and experience, you can gradually reduce the distance to 15-20 centimeters.
During descents, on the other hand, the safety distance should increase, extending to one or two bike lengths. This extension will provide you with the necessary time to react appropriately.
THINK AS A GROUP
During many cycling tours, traffic is regulated or even closed by authorities, simplifying navigation at intersections and reducing potential hazards related to traffic lights and other vehicles. However, in some circumstances, cyclists must ride in a group and adhere strictly to the rules of the road code. This implies that cyclists must act as a collective, rather than as isolated individuals, with the goal of protecting themselves and the other group members.
In many instances, the cyclist at the front of the group takes responsibility for the collective’s safety, especially when crossing intersections or encountering traffic lights.
In other situations, the behavior of an individual cyclist can influence the entire group. For example, if a cyclist acts aggressively toward a motorist or fails to pay adequate attention to road signs, they risk not only their own safety but also that of the other group members.
In summary, to enjoy a pleasant and safe cycling experience within a group, it’s essential to follow some key guidelines. These include clear and consistent communication with fellow cyclists, maintaining a stable formation, preserving adequate space between bikes, predictable movement, and constant attention and focus on the road. Furthermore, to ensure you cycle funly together with others, it’s important to always be prepared and equipped with the necessary gear while simultaneously demonstrating patience, moderation, and consideration for other group members.
Protect your eyes during group rides with Demon cycling glasses