Group Riding

Group Riding

Postby stealthbike » Mon Dec 17, 2012 11:58 am

I am starting this thread to respond to Colin's questions from a previous thread.

This question may be better in it's own thread if it is highly complex or contentious but here goes - As you have identified yourself as a group rider you may be able to give me an idea of how people *should* get into riding in a group as I have always understood that do do a good job, especially at speed, requires a lot more than just learning the hand signals. How does a group accommodate different capacity riders and for example. I think of group rides a little like a flight of ducks - Each one mirrors the actions in front a moment later so you would not a more powerful duck or one that corners differently in the group. And do riders in a proper (not loosley associated) have very similar configurations? Does a flat bar rider could respond differently timing wise and if so should they be riding only with similar bikes?


I am not sure that I am qualified to answer but as a shop group rider leader , I will have a go. PIHC run group riding skills courses and group leader courses both of which I would recommend.
Anyone wanting to ride in a group should ensure that they have had some training/education on group riding basics, it is not enough to simply be a strong rider. I can only speak for Garland's groups.
When someone asks about group riding at Garland's, they are encouraged to participate in at least one beginners session that is led by a highly experienced cylist who takes them out and explains/ demonstrates/practices the most important communications and techniques. This is done on very quiet streets. Furthermore, they are handed a comprehensive document that oulines in considerable detail the techniques, signals, terminolgy, comminications, ettiquette and skills required to ride safely in groups. A novice is not expected to master everything immediately but can refer to the document when required to refresh or improve their knowledge.
Once a novice feels confident enough (usually after one or two beginner sessions), they are encouraged to join a group. The groups are organised according to the average speed that the group will maintain through the ride, so most novices start in the slowest group, where there is more margin for error and on road coaching provided. As a rider becomes more confident and competent, they move up through to the faster groups. As a leader. I call riders on anything that is inappropriate and give them some advice/coaching. Often this is associated with having a sole rider mindset rather than a group mindset. I remind riders that we are like a large vehicle on the road and therefore require large traffic breaks to stay together and more distance to stop safely. The riders at the front and back of a group have the greatest responsibility as they comminicate to the group and other road users and make decisions on behalf of the group.

To answer your specific question about accommodating riders of different capacity. When riding in a group, the riders on the front do the most work as they punch the breeze, everyone else gets the benefit of being able to draft and therefore do less work. So to keep riders of mixed capability together, the stronger riders do most of the riding at the front and the weker riders tend to stay futher back. Of course if there is too big a difference in capability the fast riders will have to slow down as the slower riders would not be able to keep up. This is why it is important to ride in a group whose average speed is within your ability.

To ride safely in a group relies on good communications and everyone riding predictably. This is why it appears that everyone is doing the same thing (the flight of ducks analogy). Messges and calls are passed up and down the line, so that every rider is aware of what is ahead or behind.

It is possible for different types of bikes to be riden in a group and occasionally we have a flat bar rider or a even a fixie rider participate but generally having everyone on road bikes is best. Fixies tend to struggle up hills and are limited at pace, so would not be appropraite in a faster group (say over 30km/h average speed) as it would result in the group getting split. If the flat bar rider is strong, there is no real difference that I am aware of, other than the bike's limitations when compared to a road bike. They put the rider in a more upright position, so rider behind gets a good draft but the view forward is more obscured. Generally stronger riders tend to ride bikes appropriate to the task, so most group riders ride road bikes.
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by BNA » Mon Dec 17, 2012 12:46 pm

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Re: Group Riding

Postby Marty Moose » Mon Dec 17, 2012 12:46 pm

Interesting read do you really go go that much effort including a hand book.

With that sort of effort do you have a risk assessment document and insurance?

I think you are over complicating the issue and opening yourselves up go legal action by removing the owner onus side of an informal riding group.

Good to see the effort I guess but is it really that hard to ride in a group..


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Re: Group Riding

Postby ColinOldnCranky » Mon Dec 17, 2012 1:07 pm

Thanks for the thread stelathbike. I don't and will not be riding in groups and have no experience or knowledge outside of observation. This thread should address the knowledge component.

Marty Moose wrote:Good to see the effort I guess but is it really that hard to ride in a group..

I suggested this thread as I, like others, have to ride in an environment that accomodates group riders and the hazards associated with them.

In a way I think that question says it all. I believe (as a non-groupie) that far too many people do not appreciate what is required to participate in this sort of riding. And I see people jumping in on loosely formed groups (and very occasionally properly constituted groups). When this happens (as it does daily on my commute) I see an accident waiting to happen.

So I think a useful starting point for those wanting to jump in on a group is to appreciate that it IS a fairly complex thing to do safely and properly.
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Re: Group Riding

Postby stealthbike » Mon Dec 17, 2012 2:25 pm

Interesting read do you really go go that much effort including a hand book.

With that sorry of effort do you have a risk assessment document and insurance?


Yes we really do go to that much effort. We do this because we believe it it what is necessary to minimise risk for all riders and to maximise the chances of our groups riding responsibly and safely. I believe Garlands' groups have a good reputation out there and hopefully this is because of the deliberate actions we take. We wear the Garland's livery, so our actions reflect both positively and negatively on the shop, therefore we have a responsibility to do the right thing and model safe and legal cycling.

We do not have a risk assessment document or insurance as we are not a formally constituted body. We are simply like minded people enjoying a common interest. Individuals are encouraged to take out personal and bike insurance. Group leaders do meet to discuss how things are going from time to time and adjust our actions accordingly. For example, if a section of road is changed by the installation of infrastructure, we might agree to ride single file through that section.

Whilst this may all sound very formal and official, it is not. Riders enjoy the ride or they do not turn up. We have around 100 regular riders, so we must be meeting their needs.

I think you are over complicating the issue and opening yourselves up go legal action by removing the owner onus side of an informal riding group.


The onus is always on the individual rider, we as group leaders lead, but I do not believe that we are legally accountable for our group's actions - that may be niave as I am not a lawyer but surely every group out there is in the same boat.

As one of the group leaders, I can say that it certainly makes me think much harder about my riding and those in my group. :)
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Re: Group Riding

Postby Marty Moose » Mon Dec 17, 2012 4:36 pm

Yeh I know how your feeling.What you're doing is good but I would worry about the responsibility you are assuming taking so much control of a group.

I do run a volunteer group and we are very much responsible, we must have public liability insurance and risk assessments for activities.

I'm glad you are aware of others as groups can be a pain. I've ridden with some recalcitrant cyclists and just refuse to have anything to do with them.

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Re: Group Riding

Postby DoogleDave » Mon Dec 17, 2012 5:08 pm

Well done Stealthbike. Anything that promotes safety to group riding can only be a good thing in my book.

Whilst it is not difficult to ride within a group, it is alot more difficult to ride "as a group".

Those who aren't aware of signalling and riding etiquette can quickly turn a moving mass of riders into a dangerous situation.

I can imagine a group of well-meaning social cyclists out on their regular ride when one or two cyclist up front see a new pothole and instead of signalling just swerve around the boundary of the hole - leaving those mid-pack to see it last minute and (over)react, swerving wildly at the last minute and collecting the rider beside them, bringing both down along with a good majority of the following riders. Certainly not a far-fetched scenario and one many group cyclists have probably experienced or seen happen.

Riding as a group means just that. Every rider affects the entire group so each action needs to have meaning and purpose, with the relevant calls and signals to alert the group. Each rider is putting their safety in the hands of the group, so I don't think it is too much to ask that participants of the group know "the rules" beforehand so they know what to expect and also what is expected of them.

Is the document you hand out available for download from the net or is it only handed out to members (as it might be interesting reading for some)?

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Re: Group Riding

Postby stealthbike » Mon Dec 17, 2012 6:05 pm

Whilst it is not difficult to ride within a group, it is alot more difficult to ride "as a group".

Exactly. :wink:

Is the document you hand out available for download from the net or is it only handed out to members (as it might be interesting reading for some)?

Here is a link. The document was put together by me. I used various sources and then added my own content and then presented it to other group leaders for feedback. It is provided to new riders wishing to join a Graland's group ride and it is designed to be read in conjunction with the on-road coaching provided by group leaders.

http://www69.zippyshare.com/v/44781047/file.html
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Re: Group Riding

Postby DoogleDave » Mon Dec 17, 2012 6:52 pm

A very thorough and informative document.
Thank you for posting the link.

I encourage anyone who rides in groups to have a read of this doc. (particularly those new to group riding).
Chances are many of you know most of this stuff already but if nothing else it's a good reminder!

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Re: Group Riding

Postby blkmcs » Mon Dec 17, 2012 7:05 pm

DoogleDave wrote:A very thorough and informative document.
Thank you for posting the link.

I encourage anyone who rides in groups to have a read of this doc. (particularly those new to group riding).
Chances are many of you know most of this stuff already but if nothing else it's a good reminder!

Dave

+1
thanks for sharing it stealthbike
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Re: Group Riding

Postby Marty Moose » Mon Dec 17, 2012 8:23 pm

Can't read it where I am ATM but would love to see it.

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Re: Group Riding

Postby Alien27 » Mon Dec 17, 2012 9:37 pm

My first ride was a group ride (apart from a test ride around the block). That was first time on a bike since I was a teenager (I'm 36 now), first time in clip in shoes, first time using integrated shifters and first time with front and rear gears.

But it is a fantastic bunch with a slow and a fast group and a bloke with a dodgy hip that knew a short cut that avoided the hills. And my brother who was normally in the fast group stayed in the slow group to translate the calls for me so I survived without taking anyone out. 6 months later and I confident and in the strong end of the slow group.

I think if the group is one that welcomes new riders and you rock up with the right attitude and some common sense you will be alright. Golden rule you need to know, is not to do anything unpredictable, the rest you can absorb.

But on saying that a manual like
Stealthbikes would make the steep learning curve a lot easier.
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