If you’re tired of riding by yourself and need a little outside motivation, group rides are the perfect solution. Usually hosted by local bike shops, most rides occur on Thursday nights and Saturday and Sunday mornings. There’s more to riding in a group than simply pedaling with a few buddies, though–it can be dangerous if you don’t keep a few key rules in mind.
From sharing the roads with cars to keeping a consistent pace, we’ve listed our 10 group ride etiquette tips below.
Introduce Yourself1 of 11
Many of the cyclists at your local Thursday and Saturday group rides have likely been training together for several years. If it's your first time joining the group, introduce yourself and let them know you're a newbie. They'll likely take you under their wing and show you the ropes of the peloton and point out local routes, hazards and places to fill up bottles along the way.
Come Prepared2 of 11
Just as you should for any bike ride (solo or with a group), show up to a group ride prepared. This includes bringing cash for a likely coffee stop, nutrition (gels, bars, etc.), bottles and a flat repair kit. While most group rides are "no-drop" and will regroup at several points along the ride, don't be the newbie who punctures and needs help and supplies from other, more prepared cyclists in the group.
Know Your Group3 of 11
Most local bike shops host a few different route options for cyclists of varying skill levels. Before you commit to a particular ride, honestly assess your skills and decide whether or not you have the capability of keeping up with a certain group. It's always better to ride with cyclists slightly better than yourself to push you a little bit, but don't try to keep up with the fastest cyclists and find yourself dropped 30 miles from home on unfamiliar roads.
Share the Road4 of 11
If you are near the back of the group, yell "car back" to alert the other cyclists of a vehicle's presence. If the road is narrow, merge into a single file formation to allow the car to pass slowly on the left. The relationship between cyclists and drivers has a turbulent past—being courteous and respecting each other's right of way makes it easy to coexist cordially and avoid unnecessary accidents.
Follow Traffic Signs5 of 11
This might be the most important tip on the list. No matter what you've seen other cyclists do on the road, it's important to follow all traffic laws as if you were a car. It's all about being predictable for vehicular traffic, and running red lights and stop signs is anything but.
Call out Road Hazards6 of 11
It can be hard to notice debris or imperfections on the road when you're six people from the front of the pack and squeezed on the inside lane. It's the responsibility of all cyclists to point out any hazards when out on the road. Don't yell; simply point in the direction of the hazard with enough of a heads up to allow the riders behind you time to maneuver around it.
Don't Half-Wheel7 of 11
When riding in a group, don't ride with your front wheel overlapping the back wheel of the rider in front of you. This is not only frustrating for experienced riders in the group who are trying to ride parallel to each other, but it's also dangerous. Group rides are most efficient when riders ride two-by-two, so a general rule of thumb is to match your handlebars with the rider directly next to you.
Avoid Grabbing Your Brakes8 of 11
Think of the peloton as an accordion–small surges cause the group to string out along the road, which creates a reaction to speed up and regroup. This happens constantly throughout a ride, but there's no reason to grab your brakes if you're closing in on the rider in front of you. Soft pedal, lift your head and move slightly out of the slipstream to gradually slow yourself through air resistance. Unexpectedly grabbing your brakes can cause a pileup with the riders behind you.
Keep a Consistent Pace9 of 11
Riding in a group is all about efficiency and keeping a steady tempo. If you find yourself taking a pull at the front of the group, don't change your speed and think you need to give it your max effort. Pull longer, not faster to keep the group together behind you.
Ask Questions10 of 11
All cyclists were newbies at some point in their career, and most are more than willing to answer questions or help teach you new skills. Don't be afraid to ask questions—it's easier to ask the embarrassing ones early on rather than learning the hard way. Just so you know, you don't wear underwear under your bibs, and the straps go under your jersey, not over it.