Club Best Practice Guidelines

Introduction

If you're not used to riding in a large group, rolling away handlebar to handlebar with other riders can sometimes be intimidating. However, with some knowledge of what to expect, the experience will be fun, sociable and safe for everybody in your group

When riding with the Club it is important to remember that you are riding as a member of a group and not as an individual.

The Club offers a Tuesday and Thursday evening ride and a Sunday morning ride. The Committee and the Ride Leaders have designed and created a series of routes of varying distance based on their local knowledge. Each member is responsible for riding in a manner which helps ensure the safety of themselves as well as other members of the ride. The Ride Leaders are experienced and very capable cyclists who have been through a Club training scheme. After every ride, Leaders share feedback on how the ride went, any issues they encountered and how they dealt with them.​

NB: If the weather forecast is 3 degrees or lower the rides will be cancelled – safety is paramount.​

All club members should follow the instructions and guidance offered by Ride Leaders on rides. Remember that the Ride Leader is considering the safety of everyone on a ride and following a tried and tested format that has been widely praised as being highly effective. Refusing to follow Ride Leader instructions or arguing with them during the ride is not acceptable. Anyone abusing Ride Leaders or fellow group riders during a ride may be asked to withdraw from it and may also be subject to further disciplinary action by the Club.​

All Club members should act with consideration and respect towards their fellow cyclists as well as other road users to help ensure the safety and enjoyment of the Club rides.​

For each club ride, there will be at least one Ride Leader. The Ride Leader will be responsible for ensuring that the group stays together, that the speed is right for the group level and clear directions are given ahead of turns. The Ride Leader will ensure that the ride is ridden as close to the advertised speed as possible. It is the Club member’s responsibility to place themselves in a group that is appropriate for their CURRENT level of fitness and ability. Pushing the pace in a group that cannot go faster or slowing down a group because you cannot keep up are equally disruptive behaviours and can compromise group safety and the enjoyment of other riders.​

 

Safety is always our first priority and if you are unsure when you turn up to a club ride, seek the advice of the group coordinator, a Ride Leader or another club rider. We are a very friendly bunch and most of us picked up these guidelines from riding and chatting with more experienced riders!

 

The video below is a great introduction to the basics of group riding:

Rotating

On the majority of roads we ride, we will be 2 riders abreast. This is to ensure we do not snake too far along a road (8-10 riders in a line takes up a huge length of road and are difficult for other road users to pass) and allows riders to spend time “on the front” working hard and then to drop back and get a little respite.

 

To do this safely, every couple of minutes, the rider on the front right of the group slowly overtakes the person to their left and slots in in-front of them. The line of riders on the right all then steadily move up two positions, giving a change of rider on the front right (see video above for a demo). The time spent on the front can be altered to accommodate terrain, weather and rider ability.  If for any reason you are struggling to maintain the pace of the ride it is perfectly acceptable to miss a turn on the front by going through and asking the person who is on your right to move through again.

 

Ride close to the rider in front of you and parallel to the rider beside you, but only as close as you are comfortable with. Leave a larger gap on a climb or in wet and windy weather conditions or if you are less experienced.

Communication

The most important factor to successful group riding is communication. As well as obvious shouts such as “slowing” and “stopping”, others to be aware are listed below. Calls are to be made loudly and clearly and passed down the line of riders so that everyone in the group is aware of what’s happening. They are often accompanied by hand signals which riders should be familiar with.

 

If you get out of your seat and stand up on a hill, please call ‘standing’ before doing so to warn other riders as this action will cause a slight slowing in your pace, risking the rider behind running into your back wheel.

 

Be aware that there are local variations of these shouts, which you might hear when riding in non-club events such as Sportives, so use your eyes too.

 

The Standard calls and signals used by the Club are described below:-​

 
Be Aware

Stay relaxed in the group but be aware of your surroundings, constantly looking around and don’t mindlessly follow the wheels in front. Look past the riders in front to get a heads up of the road ahead. Always look first and let the riders around you know before moving within the group.

Obey the Rules of the Highway

All riders must obey the Highway Code. Do not jump red lights, mount pavements, ignore road signs etc.

 

Rides take place on roads that are open to traffic and, even on events that take place on closed roads, there’s no guarantee that there won’t be some traffic or pedestrians on the route, so ride accordingly. Respect junctions and always stay on the correct side of the road.

 

When approaching a line of slow/stationary cars – never undertake them, always go around them if safe to do so being mindful of oncoming traffic on the other side of the road.

 

When pulling out from a junction or turning into a road, be aware of the riders behind you: slow down a little so that they can catch up.

 

Stop at junctions. Don’t jump across when vehicles are approaching as other riders may follow you.

 

When pulling up at a junction, stay in two lines: do not scatter across the road. Don’t pass or crowd around vehicles at the junction.

Ride Consistently and Predictably

Your movements will affect everyone in the group. Hold a straight line, don’t weave and always overtake around the right hand side of the group.  Don’t grab your brakes sharply and when you come to a café or feed station, no matter how relieved you are to see it, don’t veer across the road.

No-handed Riding and Photography

Do not ride ‘’hands off’ the handlebars in the group.

 

Being able to ride our bikes one handed or no handed for short periods is a skill every cyclist should learn.  The ability to put on a jacket when cold, open a gel or take off arm warmers while on the move can be very useful.  While riding no handed is often seen in the professional peloton WLRCC has a policy that this should not be attempted while riding inside or off the front of a group on official club rides. 

 

Riders who need to ride no handed should:-

 

a) Make the ride leader aware that this needs to be done

 

b) Wait until they are at the rear of the group before dropping off a short distance (2 to 3 metres) to make the change and

 

c) Ensure the speed and road conditions allow this to be done safely.  If necessary riders should call for a reduction in speed and ask the ride leader to rotate the group early to get them into a safe position to ride no handed.

 

Where a rider does not feel comfortable to ride no-handed they should ask the ride leader to stop the group, where safe to do so, to allow them to make a change.     

No handed photography inside or off the front of a group ride is not permitted on official WLRCC rides.


One-handed photography is permitted occasionally on club rides providing it is

 

a) Safe to do so

 

b) The rider is competent and in complete control of their bike and

 

c) The speed and the terrain are appropriate for this to be done safely. 

 

One-handed photography is not permitted when riding in fast pace lines, descending or taking on steep ascents.

Suggested Clothing

20°C+: Shorts and short-sleeve jersey

 

15°C: Shorts and long-sleeve jersey or long-sleeve thin undershirt.

 

10°C: Tights or leg warmers; heavy long-sleeve jersey with sleeveless or short-sleeve wicking undershirt; or

lightweight long-sleeve jersey with a long-sleeve undershirt.

 

8°C: Tights or leg warmers; long-sleeve wicking undershirt and lined cycling jacket; thin full-fingered gloves; headband covering ears; wool socks and shoe covers.

 

4°C: Tights or leg warmers; long-sleeve heavy mock turtleneck and lined cycling jacket; medium-weight gloves; headband covering ears; winter cycling shoes, shoe covers, wool socks.

 

When out on the road wear your WLRCC kit with pride and represent the club in a positive light

Make Sure Both You and Your Bike are Prepared

Ensure your bike is well maintained as misfiring gears or poor brakes can make you a liability in a group. Carry suitable spares, clothing and some of your own food and drink so that you are self-reliant. You will also be required to wear a helmet, the club operates a strict No Helmet = No Ride policy.

Carry a phone and some money for café stops and/or emergencies!

Carry some identification and your WLRCC membership card with emergency contact phone number filed out.

If you have a medical condition or potential for severe allergic reactions, make sure the Ride Leader is aware or at least one other person on the ride is aware of the necessary response.

Time Trial bars should not be fitted on club rides.

Lights

Rear lights on solid please whilst in a group – flashing is fine for solo riding.​

 

During low light, you will need a front light to provide sufficient light for you to see to ride (circa 1000 lumen) and not just so that you can be seen by other road users

Mudguards

In wet weather, your bike should be fitted with effective mudguards and a rear mud flap that extends sufficiently below the rear axle height so as to avoid spraying your fellow riders with a mixture of road slime and slurry.

 

When standing 1m behind your bike, you should not be able to see your rear tyre.

WLRCC branded mudguard extensions by Raw Mudflap are available to purchase here

Avoid Half-wheeling

If road conditions and traffic allows you’ll often be riding two abreast. Maintain an even pace and stay level with the person next to you. Do not constantly up the pace whenever a rider draws level to you. Known as “half-wheeling” this is definitely frowned on as it causes the group to fragment and the other rider to have to work constantly harder to keep up.

Overlapping wheel

Do not ride with your front wheel overlapping the rear wheel of the rider in front of you in a group. It is dangerous.

Wheel Suck

Even if you just put in a few turns of the pedals it’ll be appreciated. However, even if you’re finding the pace easy, don’t get on the front and put the ‘hammer down’ (A term used to describe someone riding at the front of a group at a hard pace). Keep the pace and effort consistent.

Don’t ride in the gutter or in the middle of the road

If you’re on the front of the group, don’t sit in the gutter as you’ll be forcing everyone else to follow you increasing the likelihood of hitting obstructions such as drain covers and of picking up punctures. Where possible, ride 1 m out from the kerb. The same applies for not riding too far out.

Single Paceline

This technique is reserved for the Club Bash. The front rider is driving the pace along in a smooth and consistent style. The exact amount of time spent on the front can vary depending on the skill and stamina of the individual rider, but the most important thing is to keep the speed and effort level consistent. A stronger rider may do 60 seconds; a weaker rider may do 20 seconds.

Once a rider is finished on the front they will pull out of the pace line and begin to drop back down the line, without easing off the pedals completely. Once the former lead rider has dropped back level with the rear of the group, the back-marker will call "last rider" and they can the slot in behind them, taking care not to overlap wheels.

In the line, each rider stays on the wheel of the rider in front until they peel off. At this point, the rider will need to increase their effort in a smooth and consistent manner, concentrating on maintaining the speed of the previous rider.  Do not accelerate or "surge". 

Both of these techniques require excellent teamwork, trust and cooperation. Once mastered, each rider becomes a valued cog the machine.

Average Speed on Rides

Red – 12 mph to 14 mph (19 kph to 22 kph)

Blue – 15 mph – 17 mph (24 kph to 27 kph)

Green – 17+ mph  (27+ kph)

Recovery / Social – 15 mph (24kph)

Snot Rockets

As distasteful as this may sound, most of us, at some point have cleared our nose on the bike. Often, other riders are caught in the crossfire. Aside from the obvious hygiene issues, it's also just bad etiquette to clear your nose in a way that will impact your fellow riders. There are some simple steps that can be taken to clear your nose courteously...

  • Wait until you are at the back

  • Pull out of the path of other riders (safely and appropriately)

  • Aim down to the road not out to the side

  • Put your head down a bit and expectorate under your arm, almost as it you’re aiming for the end of your handlebar

  • If you can't do it without hitting someone else...don't do it.