It's getting to be that time of year again when group workouts start popping up on the calendar. With that, comes an annual reminder and tips about group rides and etiquette.
1) Please be aware that that when you are wearing your kit in public or at an event, you represent more than just yourself, you represent our team and our sponsors. Respect the kit you are wearing when you ride. You represent more than just yourself.2) Cars, motorcycles, pedestrians... They are everywhere and sooner or later, we'll all play nice together. While we can't control what the cars are going to do out there, we can control our actions and do our best to avoid dangerous situations. Be smart and ride with your head up, don't "encourage" the drivers or pedestrians with single finger salutes, colorful choice words, etc, etc. Do your best to rise above because if drivers start to see that we don't stoop to their level it just might change a few minds.
3) On the flip side, we know that sometimes the pace even drafting can be at someones threshold. If you find yourself on the front of the line and can't hold the pace for 30 seconds, it's OK to do 5 or 10 seconds. Just wait long enough for the lead rider to clear your wheel and then peel off. This is a great way to demonstrate to everyone that you are trying hard and learning. In addition, it's also OK skip a pull through the line by waiting at the back of the line while other riders cycle through the line.
4) When you are done with a pull on the front of a paceline, first, make sure it is safe to pull off the front (i.e., no cars coming, blind corners, etc.). Once you pull off the front, make sure you get to the back of the line as quickly and smoothly as possible. Don't ride along next to the next person on the front as that person might be on their limit, which ultimately ends up disrupting the flow and is more dangerous. It also leads to half-wheeling.
5) Half-wheeling... If you don't know what half wheeling is, ask on your next ride. It's when two people ride "next to eachother." The problem is, one person wants to stay slightly ahead, so they ramp up their speed, and then the person next to them does the same thing and this alternates until it's a full on sprint at the front. This is not good technique and it drives everyone nuts. :-)6) Bring what you need, which includes, water, spares, tools, etc. and make sure your bike is in working order. If you don't know how to use the tools ask. If your bike is squeaking and squealing and downright irritating to those around you, get it fixed. Sooner or later, it will become a safety hazard for you and those around you.
8) If you are on a group ride and the general trend is for the group to regroup in sections, or it is considered a "no drop ride", please make sure you tell someone if you plan to deviate or leave the group. There is nothing worse for a group to wonder where a random rider disappeared to and then turn the whole group around to look for them.
9) Catching and overtaking people on other bikes can be tricky. Sometimes it's fast, sometimes it's not. The best thing that you can do is announce yourself and your intentions, for instance..."Good Morning, I'll be passing on your left". If you are leading a paceline, announce that the group will be passing them. If you are being overtaken, don't accelerate and try to mix into their group. It's usually OK to latch onto the back, but let them know you are there and follow the rules of the ride.
10) Attacking and sprints... We all like to have some fun on our rides with town line sprints and attacks. This is fine, but make sure that it is safe! If there is a car coming up from behind you, that is not the time to swing wide and drill it down the middle of the lane. Wait for the car to pass, make sure the road is clear and then go for it, but keep it tight to the group. It should never look like you are playing chicken with oncoming traffic.
11) The yellow line... Unless there is something blocking your entire lane, there should never be a need to cross the yellow line. I don't know what else to say, except don't do it. And if there is no yellow line, imagine the center of the road has one and don't cross it.