Best Practices for Group Riding: Part II
Continued from Part I, here are a couple of other things to remember about riding in groups.
First, the yo-yo, accordion, or bungee cord effect. As you slow down and stop, the group will inevitably get tighter. As you accelerate, the group will open and spread out. Make sure you allow for this. It’s the same effect that causes stop-start driving on busy highways. This yo-yo effect causes the back of the group to ride faster than the front of the group. Traffic lights, turns, and other vehicles can separate a group enough so that the riders in the back have to ride faster to close the gap again. On a Blue Tim tour, experienced guides lessen this effect by keeping the pace down on straight and highly visible sections. It’s usually a good idea to let slower riders file in ahead and let faster ones ride in the back.
It’s also a good idea to meet before leaving the parking lot to be sure that everyone knows your particular group’s “rules”. If a red light separates the group do you keep going or wait? We use the “keep straight unless you see the group turning” rule. Meaning, no need to stop a whole group if the path continues straight. However, if the group does in fact turn, check your mirrors for the person behind you. Make sure he or she sees you before continuing. And if do you lose the person behind you, the first round of the evening is on YOU! Cheers!
If you’re riding in the middle of the group, ride your own ride. Don’t just blindly follow the rider ahead. Scan the road in front of you and anticipate just as you would on your own. On narrow twisty roads, or through blind hills or curves, ride in single file and leave extra time to react. On straightaways, ride in staggered formation. When riding through towns, it’s completely fine if local traffic ends up between your group’s bikes. Remember, all traffic laws still apply even if you’re in a group. Most locals will turn sooner than you think, so no need to make dangerous passing maneuvers.
Riding in the back of the group requires that you pay special attention to the group leader (or the riders well in front of you) as well as the traffic all around you. If the group is changing or merging lanes, you may want to move early to allow your fellow riders a clear lane by blocking traffic from behind. This can prevent cars from getting stuck in the middle of the group. You may also want to choose the “dominant” lane position, even if it means riding directly behind the bike in front of you. Just leave an extra half-second’s space.
Tour groups are great for people who are riding out-of-the-country for the first time. All of Blue Rim’s tour guides are experienced riders and local to the areas where we travel. Check out our 2016 tours to see if any are right for you! Remember to have fun riding in a group—don’t be intimidated, but be safe!