Club Runs, Conduct and Riding Tips
The club’s strongest presence has always been the club runs and it makes sense to remind members how to behave to ensure that rides are safe and well conducted.
• Always keep a well-maintained bike (gears, brakes, wheels, tyres, etc.).
• Always carry spare inner tubes, tyre levers, pump, phone and some ID.
• Other tools such as allen keys, a chain tool and a magic link are desirable.
• In winter always have mudguards fitted with a generous rear mud flap which extends below the rear wheel spindle height. This not only keeps your bike clean but ensures that other riders are not sprayed with a mixture of agricultural toxic chemical run off and animal excrement.
• Always wear a helmet and appropriate clothing for the time of year.
• Be courteous and do not shout abuse or make offensive gestures to other road users. Many riders will be wearing club colours and bad behaviour damages the club’s reputation. Take the time to say good morning to other cyclists, walkers and horse riders.
• The average speed of each club run is decided by the leader based on most riders on the run being comfortable and able to keep up. It is up to club members to choose a run they think is appropriate to their abilities. New members will find lots of advice available from runs leaders and fellow riders.
• The group should always wait for riders who have a problem be it mechanical or otherwise. If it is a mechanical problem that cannot be resolved it is up to the rider concerned to find their way home. In the case of a rider who is clearly struggling the leader will either slow the pace or consult with the rider and ensure that if dropped they will be able to make their way home. (Not applicable in the case of juveniles)
• It should be appreciated that the leader is not always aware of the situation at the rear of the group. Riders towards the rear have a responsibility to keep the leader informed about riders who have any problem.
• Observe all aspects of the Highway Code, e.g. traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, do not ride on pavements (unless designated as cycle paths), etc...
• Ride on the left-hand side of the road especially when approaching a blind brow or a blind corner in a narrow lane.
• Do not jump across junctions when other vehicles are approaching. This encourages other riders to do the same. Leaders will decide when it is safe for groups to cross together.
• Riders on the front should shout and point out any hazards (pot holes, debris, parked cars, etc.); these warnings should be passed back through the group so that all riders are aware of the danger. Pass horses with care, singling out, and when approaching from the rear always give the horse rider an audible warning.
• Ride in single file on busy roads, in narrow lanes or when holding up following traffic.
• In the event of a puncture or other mechanical problem an effort should be made to find a safe area off the road to carry out repairs such as a gateway.
• Do not wave on vehicles from behind even when you think it’s safe to do so. It is the sole responsibility of the driver in the overtaking vehicle to make this decision.
• If any rider is involved in an accident [where it has not been necessary to call an ambulance] and feels unwell and does not wish to continue the ride, it is strongly recommended that he/she be accompanied home by another Club member.
These are basic rules to be observed when riding in a group so that the ride is safe and enjoyable.
• With the possible exceptions of training rides, a club run is not a race. Do not attack off the front to show how strong you are.
• Ride in pairs. The greatest sin while riding in a group is to “half wheel” your partner. On the front and going back through the group pairs of riders should be bar to bar. Nudging a wheel in front of your partner, especially on the front is very bad behavior.
• The gap between a rear wheel and the front wheel of the following rider should be about 50 cm. Less than this there is the chance that wheels may touch, greater than this the advantage of slipstreaming is lost. Do not overlap wheels and beware when a rider gets out of the saddle causing his rear wheel to come back. Take care when getting out of the saddle on an incline so as not to push your wheel back into a following rider.
• Successive pairs of riders can ride slightly offset to enable them to see between or around the riders in front and thereby spot hazards earlier than if glued directly behind the rider ahead.
• There should be no gaps in a group. If there is a space in front of you - fill it, even if this means you must talk to someone other than your chum. Similarly, if there is a gap on your inside, move over to fill that space.
• Overtaking other riders on a climb should normally be done on the right-hand side. Where someone is boxed in it is acceptable to overtake on the left only after giving a warning such as “on your left”.
• Although the urge to be first to the top of a major climb is irresistible it should be firmly resisted on every little pimple; this is annoying as it disturbs the rhythm of the group, shells out riders who may be at their limit and causes the group to become disorganised.
A Finer Point - Peeling Off.
Riding in pairs it’s unreasonable to expect the front two do all the work while those behind derive the benefit of the shelter they provide. Of course, the leading riders may decide that they want to stay there but if they decide to come off the front there are a couple of accepted ways to do this.
• The rider on the right pulls in front of the rider on his left and they drop back, down the inside of the bunch until they reach the rear.
• The rider on the right pulls in front of the rider on his left and the rider behind him moves up to the front followed by the riders on the right all moving up one place to fill the gap in front of them. The effect is that the riders all move round in an anti clockwise direction.
What ever method is used it is important for everyone to know what’s going on and the run leader should make this clear.