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Group Riding Techniques and Etiquette
by Liz Sands
While this material does not cover pacelines, it does help prepare
riders for riding in a group (close to other riders)
Guidelines for riding with a group
- Be Smooth and Predictable
- No sudden accelerations or slowdowns!
- If a gap opens in front of you, try to close it gradually
- Sharp braking should be used ONLY in emergencies
- Do not move out to pass the rider in front of you without checking
to be sure that you don’t have another rider in your ‘blind spot’
(coming up behind you on the left)
- Riders should verbally communicate upcoming stop signs: “SLOWING”,
- If you’re getting too close to the rider ahead:
- Shift into an easier gear
- Soft pedal
- Sit up higher to catch more of the wind
- Move over slightly to catch more of the wind (but don’t overlap
your front wheel with the next rider’s back wheel, and again,
watch out to be sure there is not a rider coming from behind
who you would be cutting off)
- Try not to coast – when the riders behind you see you coasting,
they will slow down too and cause an accordion effect
- If all of the above do not slow you down enough, feather
- It’s better to roll over minor obstacles like small holes or
sticks than to make a sudden move over or slam on your brakes.
- Hand signals and verbal signals
- Right turn, left turn
- Slowing, stopping
- Pointing at obstacles and calling them out (you need to point
before going by the obstacle or you are not giving the rider behind
you enough warning)
- Car back
- Move over for obstacles ahead (example, “Walker up”)
- Be considerate of other riders in the group. If the
entire group doesn’t make it through a stoplight before it turns red,
slow down to wait up for those who didn’t make it through. This will
also encourage lawful behavior, in that riders won’t feel so pressured
to run a red light if they know the group is going to wait up for them.
- Let other riders know when you are passing them.
Avoid passing on the right. Avoid riding with ‘overlapping wheels’.
- Watch out for squirrelly riders in the group and increase
your following distance. Conversely, learn who is a “steady
wheel” and try to position yourself behind those riders.
- Don’t use aerobars when in a group. You need to
have good control of your bike and have your brakes within close reach.
- The front person should pedal on downhills, or else everyone
behind will be catching up to them too fast.
- The group may need to slow down after uphills to allow slower
riders to catch up.
- Be careful when standing to climb when riding in a group – this
can jerk your wheel back into the rider behind you (good to give
a verbal signal – “Standing”)
- Riding in a straight line.
- Drinking while riding in a straight line.
- Checking behind for traffic while riding in a straight line.
- Riding with different hand positions (on top of handlebars, on brake
hoods, in the drops) and being able to change hand positions.
- Drafting – practice riding with your front wheel 1-3 feet behind
the rider in front of you.
- Riding side by side – practice riding side by side with one other
rider as close as you can. Try touching shoulders or elbows if you are
comfortable with that.
Safe and efficient cornering technique
- Lean into the turn
- Outside foot down
- Do not start pedaling when you are in the leaned over position (you
might hit the pavement with your inside pedal)
- Hold your line going through the turn; there may be other riders
to your right or left who you don’t want to cut off
- Be more cautious if conditions are wet or there is gravel in the
Safe braking techniques
- Figure out which brake handle controls which brake (usually Right
= Rear, but not always)
- Never use just the front brake
- In an emergency stop, apply more pressure on the rear brake and shift
your weight toward the back of the bike to keep from going over the
- by Liz Sands, TCBC Ride Leader
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