Group Riding Etiquette
There are many arcane rules and jargon that separate road cyclists from normal human beings. For those new or inexperienced (and maybe those who’ve been riding for years) below are some of the rules, traditions and techniques that will make the group riding experience safer and more enjoyable for all.
1) We will normally ride in two abreast formation, but be prepared to single out when necessary. Pair off in twos and rotate at the front, the frequency of rotation depends on the size of the group, pace etc. Riders will often shout up to indicate that the riders at the front should rotate.
2) Maintain a steady straight line, don’t make sudden movements. Be predictable with all your actions. Avoid braking or changing direction suddenly, also, don't get out of the saddle abruptly, your back wheel will move rearwards slightly and could cause the rider behind to hit you.
3) Point out and call out any road hazards - potholes, drains, speed bumps, animals, parked cars, debris or moisture on the road surface, etc.
4) Lead riders should use hand signals to indicate stopping or turning as well as clearly audible verbal instructions. Riders should warn of approaching cars, both oncoming and towards the rear of the group - particularly on narrow roads.
5) Don't overlap wheels (this one is very important). A slight direction change by the rider in front could easily catch you out. If you 'touch wheels' with the rider in front you’re almost certain to end up on the tarmac. Ride on the wheel not amongst the wheels!
6) Be smooth when moving to the front of the group to do your turn - avoid surges and ease that pace ever so slightly when you get on the front. Stay level with the rider alongside, don't increase the pace to move a half wheel ahead, they will have to speed up to maintain the group formation and the speed will increase unnecessarily causing disruption in the group....nobody wants to be known as a 'half-wheeler'!
7) Avoid leaving gaps when following wheels, you can save a huge amount of energy by following in the slipstream of the rider in front. However, don't become mesmerized by the rear wheel of the rider in front as you concentrate on staying close - there's a good chance you'll ride into it! Keep looking well ahead to spot hazards and terrain changes.
8) When climbing avoid following a wheel too closely, riders usually lose a bit of momentum when rising out of the saddle on a hill which can cause a slight deceleration, this can cause a wheel touch if the rider behind is following too closely, resulting in a fall.
9) Descend at a safe speed and increase the distance to the rider in front so you have a clearer view of the road ahead at faster speeds. Some of the descents are fast and technical so please don’t take risks, if we notice you’re struggling we are there to advise on technique and positioning.
10) Be polite and courteous to other road users, do not react to bad driving with gestures or provoke retaliation. Having said that, cycling is part of the culture here - this is much less of a problem in Italy than in the UK.
11) Always wear a helmet and make sure your bike is in good working order before every ride.
12) Be self sufficient on the bike. Bring a minimum of one spare tube, tyre levers and a pump, a multi tool can be useful too. Also, bring some money in case there’s a cafe stop or you need emergency food supplies.
13) Make sure you stay hydrated, bring at least one large bottle of water or energy drink - in Italy there are always plenty of places to refill so running out of water is unlikely to be a problem. It’s also a good idea to bring some food (although there will more than likely be a cafe stop at some point). Start eating after about an hour or so - the golden rule is to eat 'little and often'.
Finally, relax and have fun!