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Group Riding Tips - All Riders Must Read This Before Participating Empty Group Riding Tips - All Riders Must Read This Before Participating

Post  Admin Mon Aug 18, 2014 1:32 pm

Have you seen the professionals race elbow to elbow at 45 km/hour in the Tour de France? It's not that easy. Group riding needs both discipline and attention to keep it safe and enjoyable for all. Here are some tips on dos and don'ts of cycling in a group courtesy of Wolfi and the Dubai Roadsters.

Drafting. Riding in a group means that you benefit from the slipstream created by the riders in front of you. This is called drafting and means that you can ride at any given speed using 30 percent less energy than if you are riding by yourself. This is even more noticeable when the group is riding into a strong headwind. So the benefits are huge, but you must remain even more attentive to the road conditions and to other riders in front of you and behind you. By all means chat to the person next to you, but do not ‘switch off’.

Keep Pedalling. To keep riding smoothly in formation at a steady speed/cadence it is important that you try to avoid free-wheeling (not pedalling) at any time when riding in the group. Of course cycling up a hill naturally means a slower speed for most cyclists. Change down gears smoothly in order to keep your cadence steady (cadence is the speed that your pedals rotate, and is normally measured in rpm). Resist the temptation to slog away in a big gear as you will likely become more tired and erratic and slow the group down, Always keep rotating the pedals even if you are not using any force/power. If you stop pedalling riders behind you will assume you are slowing down (almost like a break light on a car) and it will result in a chain reaction through the group making the speed unsteady and the ride less relaxing. Similarly if you are at the front of the group, resist the urge to sprint away and do not break suddenly. Keep your speed/cadence steady and ride predictably.

Signals. The key is to ride predictably. Keep a close watch far enough ahead so that you can see and point out obstacles early enough to allow yourself and those behind you to smoothly avoid them. Particular hazards which occur on rides in the UAE include sand at the side of the road and speed bumps. The riders in the lead of the group must give signals to the riders behind. You can use signals by hand or your voice to give or pass on signals (like “hole" for a hole in the road or “left turn” for a change of direction). If the riders in front of you signal, pass on signals to other riders behind you. Crashes are not common but can occur when you swerve quickly to one side to avoid a hole and you bump the rider beside you or the rider behind you. If you swerve quickly to avoid an obstacle, the rider following you will not have time to avoid it. Always expect to have new riders in the group who are not aware of the route so they need to know where to go.

Look first, move second. Look to where you want to move to before you move. This goes hand-in-hand with riding smoothly and being predictable whenever you decide to change positions within the group. Remember, if you make a quick, unexpected move, the rider behind you will be the one who crashes when your rear wheel hits his or her front wheel. Be especially aware of faster riders approaching from the rear when you move laterally. Look sideways and behind you. Even if you’re riding a few inches to the left of the white line on the right side of the road, don’t think someone won’t ride up on your right in the gravel on the shoulder. Be attentive, expect the unexpected and you’ll be ready for anything.

Keep a safe distance from the bike in front of you. You get plenty of draft if your front wheel is a two feet behind the wheel in front of you. This gives you time to react to whatever the person in front of you does. This also means not overlapping your front wheel with the rear wheel of the rider in front of you, except when riding in an echelon in a strong crosswind. Remember, if the rider in front of you moves into your front wheel, YOU are going to crash, not the rider in front of you.

Keep a safe distance from the bike beside you. Just because you see the racers in a peloton riding with their handlebars a couple of inches from their neighbouring rider’s, doesn’t mean they ride that way all of the time. Do not ride more than two abreast on the roads. This gives plenty of room for cars and trucks to overtake and means that the group can ride in a more orderly way. The rougher the roads and the less experienced the riders, the farther apart everyone should stay for safety’s sake and for peace of mind. Because many of the roads are less than ideally smooth, it makes sense to keep your handlebars a foot or so from your neighbour’s. Also, many of the riders on the social rides do not possess the riding skills necessary to recover from bumping bars. Ride where you’re comfortable. If you find yourself riding next to someone who rides too close for your comfort level, calmly and smoothly move away and back to another spot in the group.

Stand-up pedalling.  When you stand up to pedal, push a bit harder on the pedals as you stand to keep from moving your bike backwards and into the front wheel of the person behind you.

Braking. Use your brakes lightly and sparingly. Adjust your speed by small changes in your pedalling cadence rather than using your brakes. Avoid strong braking. If you need to stop (a puncture, dropped water bottle, etc.) yell "STOPPING" and SLOWLY move to the right side of the road, looking first, and applying your brakes very lightly.

Passing slower riders. You’re in the back of the bunch and decide to move up to the front. Move up slowly, keeping far enough to the side of the riders you are passing to keep from hitting them if they suddenly swerve to avoid an obstacle. As in driving your car in traffic, when moving up in a pack, watch several riders ahead to get an idea of what may cause the rider closest to you to move into your path.

Cornering: Hold your line through corners. Unless you’re way out in front or behind everyone else, avoid cornering like you’re racing, i.e. swinging wide then cutting to the inside of the corner, especially on left turns where you cut the corner into the left traffic lane. Many of the corners contain sand or gravel in the inside so it’s best to hold your line and stay in the car wheel “lanes” where there is less debris. Corner smoothly being aware of others in the group around you. You want them to do the same for you.

Stop signs and Traffic Lights. Bicycles are considered motor vehicles and therefore are subject to the same laws. Also, it’s very good for public relations between bicyclists and vehicle drivers if we bicyclists obey the stop signs and traffic lights, especially when vehicles are present. Always watch the other riders around you at intersections with stop signs. Some riders like to come to a complete stop while others seem content with simply slowing down to make sure no vehicles are approaching. If the riders in front smoothly slow to a stop, no problems will occur. If the front riders fly up to the intersection and brake suddenly, a crash is likely to occur when the riders from the rear fail to stop quickly enough. Again, be predictable, ride smoothly, look ahead, and let the riders behind you know what you’re going to do.  

Road Rage. Which brings up what to do when a vehicle driver does something that you find objectionable. About 99.9 percent of the time, the best thing to do is NOTHING. Especially if someone in a vehicle zooms by you too closely for comfort from behind and yells at you. Gesturing that you think their age is 1 is only going to make them more likely to turn around and do something even worse the second time. Even smiling and waving to them acknowledges that you noticed them, which reinforces their act because they were trying to get a reaction out of you. If you show them no reaction at all, it’s not fun and they may not do it the next time they pass a bicyclist. Don’t think that you can teach them anything by yelling or gesturing. You can only make things worse. DO NOTHING except IGNORE THEM. Thankfully, this does not happen very often.

Pace lines and Echelons.  When riding into the wind, a rotating pace line is a fun way to keep moving at a higher speed while still getting to draft others. Echelons are very helpful when riding with a strong crosswind. Both of these specialized peloton manoeuvres require concentration, a great deal of cooperation and the smoothest riding you can muster. You can read how to ride pace lines and echelons in most of the bicycling how-to books but the best way to learn is to listen to the experienced riders in the pack and give it a try. Stay calm, keep focused, ride smoothly and you will do just fine. And remember, you drop back on the windward side and move up on the leeward side. More detailed information including diagrams, on Pace lines can be found at the following website http://www.active.com/cycling/Articles/Riding_in_a_paceline_is_a_basic_cycling_skill.htm

Drinking and Eating.  When cycling in the desert it is very important to keep the body hydrated by drinking frequently during the ride. It’s reasonably safe to have a drink from your water bottle while maintaining your position in the group, provided you are able to hold your position without swerving or slowing. Eating, especially when it involves opening the wrapper of your food bar, is best accomplished when the group stops at one of the scheduled stops. If you can't wait, then move to the back of the pack where you can either ride with no hands more safely to open the wrapper or wrestle with biting the wrapper open. Put the empty wrapper in your pocket – Please Don’t Litter.

Aero or Tri bars are great for time trials but must not be used while you are riding in a group, unless you are the very last rider in the group. While you are steering with your elbows, you have limited control over the direction and stability of your bicycle as well as not being able to use the brakes or signal easily. This is very dangerous for everyone behind you. Remember, the safety and well being of everyone beside and behind you is in your hands, so keep them on the handlebars while anyone is beside or behind you.

Nose blowing and spitting. Everyone gets a runny nose or cough from time to time. When you need to blow your nose or spit, be considerate of those beside and behind you. Move to the leeward side of the pack or, better yet, to the back of the group before blowing your nose or spitting. Remember, when riding 30-40 km/h everything you eject goes backwards quickly enough and far enough to land on fellow riders a considerable distance behind you.

Conversations in the Peloton. Group rides are social events where everyone wants to enjoy themselves. Think of it as a party on bicycles with old friends and new acquaintances. What you talk about with the person next to you is your business but please remember that everyone is out for a pleasant time in the beautiful countryside. Only two subjects come to mind that seem to be disagreeable to many riders. Number One – Nobody likes to be told how to ride….even if they need it. Therefore, don’t offer riding advice to anyone unless they directly ask you a specific question. If you overhear someone asking someone else a riding question, refrain from jumping into the conversation with your own opinion. Number Two – although almost everyone who has ridden for a while has “crash” stories, refrain from regaling new riders with the gory details. What’s old-hat to you may be very frightening to a new rider. Keep the conversations positive and up-beat and everyone will have a great time.  

Support on the Ride – For Yourself and Others. Use your common sense when deciding what items you will need on any given Ride. Because of the extreme temperature in the United Arab Emirates, you should always carry sufficient water bottles, and refill them at all opportunities.

Spares and Repair kit. Also ensure that you have the correct spares and tools to repair/replace a punctured tube, including; tube, patches, pump, tyre lever, and knowledge of how to use them.

Sun Protection. If you are susceptible to sunburn, then also bring enough sun cream to last the duration of the ride.

DON’T LEAVE RIDERS ALONE BEHIND THE GROUP. It is not safe to be alone out in the desert.  If someone encounters a problem, either mechanical or physical, which forces them to stop, the support vehicle will stop while the problem is sorted out. The rider will then be taken ahead of the group and dropped off, ready to rejoin the group as it catches up. Make sure the support vehicle drops you off far enough ahead of the group so you are riding at around the same pace as they pass you. If you are feeling very tired or dehydrated do not refuse the offer of a ride. By toughing it out you are placing a greater responsibility on the rest of the group to ride at a slower speed and look after you. If this does happen the ride captain will 'invite' you to get in the support vehicle, please do so!

Support Car. There is almost always a support vehicle for the rides. This vehicle follows the group to help out if needed and to warn other road traffic of the presence of cyclists. We normally make a small contribution for the driver – collected at the ADNOC stop.

Final words.  Riding in a group is like any other social event, only it is conducted at 30-40+ km/h on sometimes bumpy roads. Your safe conduct, courteous behaviour and patience are always appreciated by everyone. Try especially hard to stay focused and safe toward the end of the ride when everyone is tired and reactions are slower. Have fun and help everyone else on the ride to have fun.


Posts : 37
Join date : 2011-04-01


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Group Riding Tips - All Riders Must Read This Before Participating Empty And no Ipods!

Post  Admin Sun Aug 24, 2014 6:36 pm

Finally, one missing item... No Headphones in the group, if you are listening to music you are not paying attention to the group, missing instructions etc.

Headphones are for solo riding only.


Posts : 37
Join date : 2011-04-01


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