Cycling Etiquette & Training Tips

GOPRO3

We welcome all levels of cyclists from Leisure to Competitive and we encourage wearing club kit on all spins.

Cycling Etiquette / Training Tips

Group cycling, what you need to know

Cycling as part of a group can be one of the most enjoyable and pleasant experiences for any cyclist when done correctly. When done badly it can be frustrating and hard work. Here a few tips to help anyone, new or with some experience already, to understand how to have a safe and enjoyable group spin.

Before the group spin

(These rules apply to solo spins too)

Ensure that your bike is safe to use by performing the following quick safety check:

  • It is important to be on time for club spins, be there 10 minutes before start time.
  • A clean bike says a lot about a rider and how seriously they take their cycling! It also prolongs drivetrain wear and reduces the likelihood of mechanical problems.
  • Clamp the front wheel between your knees and try to twist the bars left and right. There should not be any movement.
  • Place your hands on top of brake lever hoods and push down. Again there should not be any movement.
  • Pull both brake levers as tight as you can. The lever should not come in contact with the handlebar when under full pressure.
  • Check that both front and rear wheel axle skewers are tight.
  • Pump your tyres to between 100 and 120 psi.
  • Respect other cyclists by using at least a rear mudguard during winter training spins.

What to bring with you (Be self-sufficient, don’t be relying on others to bring spares for you):

  • A pump
  • At least one spare tube (2 tubes are even better along with a puncture repair kit)
  • Tyre levers
  • Water bottle (2 bottles if the spin is going to be over 2 hours)
  • Food if it is going to be a spin over one hour
  • An emergency gel to get you home if you experience the dreaded hunger knock
  • Money for a coffee or a coke
  • Bringing a phone is always a good idea you never know when you might need it.

During the group spin

The group dynamic

  • Groups ride in two lines (two abreast)
  • Riders on the outside line roll up to the front and over to the inside line.
  • When rolling over don’t sprint away leaving a big gap for someone to close but also be careful not to pull over until you are fully past the person you are moving across in front of.
  • Turns at the front usually last between 2 and 5 minutes
  • At the front of the group the rider on the inside maintains their speed whilst the outside rider speeds up slightly before moving in ahead of the inside rider and resuming the original speed
  • The riders at the front stay side by side with each other. One rider should not be half a wheel ahead of the other.
  • If you are struggling a little it is OK to stay sheltered at the back but you should not then ‘attack’ or ‘pass out’ the group towards the end of the spin

Safety

  • Be aware that everything you do has a knock-on effect on everyone behind and beside you.
  • You are responsible for the safety of everyone around you as you are for your own well-being and also if you value your life, wear a helmet!
  • Lights should be used day and night during the winter months for your safety (rechargeable are best)
  • The riders at the front must always shout out the obstacles that are up ahead.
  • A pothole on the left should be called as ‘Left’ or ‘Hole left’ on the right ‘Right’ or ‘Hole right’, or in the centre between both front riders ‘Centre’ or ‘Hole Centre’
  • Traffic Islands, parked cars or any other obstacles can be called as ‘Left’, ‘Right’ etc.
  • These shouts must be passed back down along the group
  • Riders at the front on narrow roads should shout ‘Car down’ when a car is approaching and riders at the rear should shout ‘Car up’ when a car is passing out from behind.
  • When rising from the saddle to stand on the pedals it is important to be conscious of not ‘throwing’ your bike back on top of the rider behind. Change up one sprocket into a harder gear as you rise from the saddle and you will maintain your momentum.
  • The riders at the front must always be aware of the number of riders behind them when approaching roundabouts and junctions. Allow enough time to brake gradually and always be aware that whilst there may be enough time and space for one or two riders to ‘make it’ the decision to ‘keep going’ should be made whilst allowing enough space for the entire group to proceed safely.

Shelter

  • Riding in the shelter of a group uses 30% less energy than riding alone or at the front facing the wind
  • To get the most benefit from this shelter your front wheel must be within 12 to 18 inches of the rear wheel in front of you.
  • In a group, out on an open road it is best to be in two lines directly behind each other.
  • Try to avoid large gaps opening up as this has a knock on effect back down along the group. It also negates the benefit of sheltering behind the riders ahead.
  • The riders at the front should ride up hills at a steady pace that allows everyone to stay within the group as much as possible.
  • If someone is under pressure it is good to shout ‘steady’ to alert those at the front to reduce the pace slightly.
  • The group will either slow down to look after you or if there is a slower group following then you could also drop back to them.

Descending

  • Having a steady pace up the hill should be accompanied by a continuous effort down the other side.
  • Riders, especially those at the front should not freewheel downhill.
  • By pedalling downhill, you get more of a workout. It also gives better bike control.
  • Pedalling downhill also reduces the buildup of lactic acid which will begin to accumulate as soon as you begin to freewheel.
  • You should always look where you want to go. Look ahead towards the exit of corners, to the side of potholes etc.

Eating and Drinking

  • It is important to feel comfortable eating and drinking in a group. Otherwise you will run out of fuel.
  • If you are uncomfortable taking your hands off the bars in a group begin by just regularly bringing your right hand up to touch your left shoulder. This allows you to get comfortable cycling with one hand in a group without veering sideways.
  • You should be sipping from your bottle every 10 to 15 mins.
  • On longer spins you should be snacking every 30 mins.

Punctures

  • If someone punctures they should raise their hand or shout ‘puncture’ to alert those behind them.
  • Then drift to the back of the group before stopping.
  • Pull in at a gate or somewhere safe in off the road
  • It should be on a straight and not on a bend or corner
  • One person should stop with the person who has punctured and the rest of the group should ride about 2km up the road before returning to collect them at which stage the new tube should be fitted and the person should be back on the bike.

Enjoyment

  • Whilst the focus may be on improving fitness, the real benefit of a group spin is enjoying the social aspect of meeting likeminded souls with whom you have something big in common.
  • In a group you will go further than you may have thought possible at a higher average speed than you imagined, for the same effort as a slower shorter solo spin.
  • Out on the road it does not matter if you are a doctor or a ‘doley’ everyone is just a cyclist.
  • If someone is repeatedly making mistakes, tell them discreetly towards the end of the ride. Don’t shout at them in the heat of the moment. If it’s you being given constructive criticism, then try to learn from it.

After the group spin

Recovery

  • Recovery begins as soon as you get off the bike. Eat a sandwich, drink a recovery shake or whatever you like the taste of. You recover 20% in the first 20 minutes if you do this, and then 10% per hour after that.
  • Don’t sit around in damp sweaty clothing. Get straight into the shower or get changed to avoid getting a cold or a saddle sore.
  • Put your feet up for a while, you’ve earned it 🙂

 

Above all, enjoy your Cycling!