1. Know your route and destination
It is important that each cyclist in the group know where they are going and the route they are going to take. They do not need to know the route in detail; just a general summary of some prominent routes and/or landmarks they will pass by. Always be ready to have an alternative route should the original one is not viable for use for whatever reasons not known beforehand and beyond circumstances.
2. Always Be Ready
Ensure that your bicycle is functioning properly. Issues such as faulty gears, poor brakes can be risky in a group ride. Ensure you have an extra tube, tyre levers, pump, apparatus, or tools required to repair a minor puncture etc.
3. Keep a safe distance from other riders and vehicles
When riding up hills, down hills or on narrow roads where you will impede faster traffic, leave a gap for cars between every three or four bicycles. That way, a motorist can take advantage of shorter passing intervals and eventually move around the entire group. A rule of thumb, always leave a comfortable space length of 2 or 3 bicycles at all times during the ride.
4. Remember! It's Not a Race
There is a required level of competency for riders in a group. You need to:
~ be able to ride in a straight line without weaving,
~ always overtake on the right* of the group (not the left*),
~ do not brake and stop without giving warning,
~ take extra care when riding with people you don’t know. Give them a little extra room.
*depends on the driving rule of the country. E.g drive on left side of the road in Singapore and drive on right side of the road in Taiwan.
5. Be Aware at Intersections
When moving towards intersections that vehicles are obliged to slow down or stop, the lead rider will signal "slowing" or "stopping" to caution those behind to slow down. The lead cyclist and intermediate markers will then check and gesture all clear to cross. However, it is strongly advisable that every cyclist takes charge of their own safety at road crossings and do not rely solely on the instructions of others.
6. Word Up for Hazards Zone
When riding in a group, majority of the cyclists do not have a decent perspective of the street surface ahead, so it is imperative to report openings, glass, rock, grates, and different hazards. The lead cyclist ought to demonstrate street hazards by indicating down the left or right, and by yelling "hole," "bump," and so on, where required for extra lookout. And such warning should be shouted and passed down by every individual cyclist.
7. Use Hand Signals
Utilise hand and verbal signs to speak with individuals from the group and with other movement. Hand signals for turning and stopping are as per above.
8. Take Breaks
Knowing the experience level of your fellow riders and how long the ride is will help you decide how many breaks to take. You can stop for fuel, a snack, use the restrooms and for lunch, among other stops. Make use of such breaks to wait for the slower cyclists. If need be, re-organise the group to have the slower ones go to the front. Make it a point to stress the importance of riding together.
9. Move off the road when you STOP
Regardless of whether you are stopping because of mechanical issues or any other reasons, move well off the street. Do not just stop in the middle of the path or lane without giving any warning. Keep to the extreme left when stopping. If possible, give warning before stopping. When you are ready to start again, every cyclist ought to check that the course is clear before rejoining the group again.
10. Stick together
The true fun of the ride is experiencing it together. Traffic lights can cause riders to lose sight of each other. Leaders can slow down and stop at a light that is close to changing to red so that there is enough time and space for the group to close up. Another good option is to stop in a safe area on the side of the road after passing through a light to wait for the other riders to catch up. It makes sense to set meeting places in case you do get separated.
Hope you find the information useful and applicable for your next group ride. Stay safe and have fun!
Part information is adapted from Epik Store.