Crisp morning air… clear winding roads… a chorus of cleats composed at each junction… there is nothing like being part of the bunch. Through the years, it is here that bases have been built, hours lost, wisdom passed and it is here that we welcome the new, share the philosophy and take to the road.
Vive Le Velo... Trent Valley Road Club
The Sunday social ride has become a key feature in the club’s weekly calendar and is responsible for keeping riders active during the winter months. It encourages our members to socialise with each other and ensures new members have the opportunity to talk to the more experienced riders in the club.
The club also takes part in specific events where riding in a team or close to other riders is necessary, such as races and sportives.
But… Group riding is a discipline that requires some understanding, thought and practice and the importance of following a few basic guidelines should not be overlooked to ensure the ride is safe and enjoyable for all...
Social Group Riding...
When riding socially on sportives and the Sunday social rides, the etiquette is more relaxed and of less significance than racing, but being prepared and respectful to other riders and road users is still important. It is asked that you consider the following before joining a group ride:
More experienced riders will be on hand during a social rides to give help and guidance, but following a few basic pre ride checks can be a great way to prepare for any ride.
Wear appropriate clothing. Be sensible about the weather and if you don't have the right clothing consider not riding. The quickest way to fall out of love with cycling is cold feet, cold hands or riding soaking wet for 2 hours.
Bring identification and details of who to contact in an emergency (the new club membership cards are ideal). This will ensure that should something go wrong we are well informed to deal with it.
Bring your mobile phone and some money. It goes without saying but money and a phone will enable you to seek help or support should you need it.
Bring mechanical equipment. This should include a spare inner tube, tyre levers and a pocket pump. Other riders on the club will be on hand to support with any road side repairs but it is still important to ensure you are equipped to deal with minor mechanical failures yourself.
Bring hydration and nutrition. Being hydrated will keep your immune system healthy and your body functioning. Keeping your body fuelled will ensure you have enough energy to keep with the group.
Follow the Highway Code at all times, obey signs, speed limits, traffic lights and road markings.
Ride relaxed and with confidence. Being over cautious can cause incidents further back in the group. Being tense and uneasy could also cause you to overreact or make the wrong decision.
Wear a helmet. Although not compulsory by law, a helmet has the potential to save your life in an accident - it is strongly recommended you wear one.
On The Road
Lincolnshire has some great riding but narrow country roads that push on for miles without widening can be present a problem for passing motor vehicles. We all have a duty to share the roads and be respectful; riding four abreast without consideration to traffic is not only inconsiderate but can force drivers to make rash decisions and undertake dangerous driving manoeuvres to get past.
Always consider other road users. According to the Highway Code you should not ride more than two abreast and on occasions where you pose a significant hazard or on any busy roads ride in single file.
If you are riding on the front of a social ride ALWAYS ensure the pace is comfortable for the riders at the back, this will keep the group together and make it easier for cars to pass.
As lead rider (rider on the front) take your responsibility seriously, talk to the group and give clear instructions around obstructions, pot holes, road furniture, approaching traffic and any other hazard riders in the group cannot see.
Cover your brakes (keep your hands ready over the levers) at all times.
When you need to slow down, apply the brakes gently and smoothly allowing other riders the time to break safely. Braking suddenly can cause accidents further back in the pack.
Keep your effort on the pedals consistent, even when descending do not stop. Once you stop pedalling riders that have been benefiting from your draft will catch you up and be forced to break.
When riding at the back inform the group of traffic approaching from behind.
Communicate and pass the message back. If the lead rider shouts up about an obstacle such as a pothole or parked vehicle always pass this message down the line to ensure the group can pass the obstruction safely.
"Make room". When riding in pairs if you are on the outside make sure the inside rider is given room when approaching obstacles such as parked cars.
Always stay alert. With riders and cars approaching from all sides always stay alert. Be cautious when checking over each shoulder as this can alter your line.
Communicate clearly at junctions and keep the size of the group in mind.
Do not half wheel – half wheeling is the quickest way to lose friends in a group. Half wheeling is the act of speeding up intentionally as another rider starts to draw level. It increases the speed of the group and stings out the line.
Shouts and Calls
Cyclist have their own language that can sometimes seem mysterious. Below we hope to clarify some of the expressions.
STOP - When at a junction and the call "Stop" is heard it means the junction is busy and you must prepare to stop and wait.
CLEAR - When at a junction and the call "Clear" is heard it means the junction is clear and you should prepare to proceed.
The Stop and Clear shouts are based on the time the rider shouts it and each rider should reassess and give follow on shouts to riders behind until the junction is clear.
CAR UP - When the shout "Car up" is heard it means a car is approaching from the front.
CAR BACK - When the shout "Car back" is heard it means a care is approaching from behind.
The Car up and Car back shouts should be passed up along the group.
HOLE - the shout "Hole" is given it means there is a pot hole in the road approaching, arm signals will direct riders to the position in the road. This signal should be passed along the group.
SLOWING - When the shout "Slowing" is heard it indicates a rider needs to slow down.
STOPPING - When the shout "Stopping" is heard it means the group will need to stop. When this shout is heard brake calmly and come to a stop safely whilst shouting the command yourself.
STANDING - When the shout "Standing" is heard it means a rider is standing. This shout is given when bunched up as the act of standing can push the bike back under the riders body by 12 to 30 cm's.