As well as being a sport with a long history and all the traditions that come with that history, cycling has a well developed code of conduct for the bunch ride. Some of the code is obvious, some written and some to be absorbed from the grizzled veteran on the road, track or trail.
Out riding, a lot of this code has grown up around looking after yourself and your fellows on the bike. As a magical and social sport where we gather to ride and drink coffee, we very often ride with a bunch, the 'peloton'. When riding together or sharing the road the code is all important as it keeps us safe, keeps us together and passes on the wisdom of the veteran.
At the heart of the code is safety. So here are our tips, and we are sure you have more!
- Observe the road rules. You are an ambassador for cycling. The red light you run can end in tragedy and at the least ruins the reputation of the rest of us. If it is a race there will not be a red light, and if there is a red light it is not a race.
- Be aware of what is happening around you. In a bunch a little mistake magnifies out. Spatial awareness and concentration will help keep you and the bunch out of trouble.
- Share the road. Two abreast is legal and creates a smooth bunch ride. It leaves room for cars and room for other bunches overtaking you.
- Stay left and near to the curb if on your own (or right depending on where you are in the world!)
- Communicate. Call out the potholes, the doors etc.. It would not be a bunch ride without the immortal cry of 'car back'
- Be pro smooth. No sudden braking, an even tempo and try to avoid braking or turning suddenly
- Be ready to teach and to learn. New riders need friends to teach them the many skills and deep lore of the bike. It is the responsibility of the experienced rider to pass on the wisdom and be a leader. And don't be afraid to learn. There is much to know and the more you know the safer and more rewarding the riding
- Learn how to ride the wheel. There is nothing finer than a smooth rolling bunch. Sitting the wheel the right way is a skill but a readily learnable one. Find a bunch, find an experienced rider, whatever works for you but you will love it when you get the knack. And never ever half wheel, this is a capital offence :-)!
- Lead by example. With so many more people riding, we need leaders and inspirers. In our experience the pro riders are a friendly bunch who want more people enjoying the sport. Its a buzz when a female or male pro rider glides past with a smile and a hello. They have nothing to prove and neither do we
- This tip may be controversial. We don't think it is a good idea to ride with earphones. Hearing what is happening around you is central to safety and awareness. If you must, one ear only please
We could go on forever! A great way to learn the code is to find a bunch. There are lots of great clubs around, lots of shop rides and training groups. All these are driven by a love for our sport and a desire to get more people riding. Don't be afraid to ask for advice and help.
Thanks for listening!