NCTC Guidelines for club Led Rides
We want cycling on the public roads to be an enjoyable experience for us and other road users. As a club we want to support and encourage people to ride safely, respecting their fellow riders and other road users to reduce any risk and danger.
A group ride is just that – the safety of the group is paramount and this means adapting your riding style and preferences to achieve it (e.g. feathering brakes on descents, moderating your pace, holding a line etc.)
Please read the following simple “rider etiquette” to help us achieve this. These come from the experience of thousands of riders over many years – if you are unsure about anything or want to make any comments then please ask.
1. Use the right equipment. Bikes do not have to be the latest or lightest – but should be maintained and fit for use. All riders should come along equipped with lights, puncture repair/inner tube, and tools, food and fluids as appropriate. We also recommend at least a rear mudguard when it is wet as a courtesy to fellow riders. For insurance reasons we ask that everyone that comes on ride with our Club wears a proper cycling helmet that fits. Our Led Rides require it.
2. Observe the Highway Code. The legal position is clear (Highway Code, Rule 66): “never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends”.) Riding three abreast is dangerous to riders and motorists – not least because the middle rider of the three has nowhere to go if there are any problems to avoid. This happens most commonly on descents where some riders can feel the pace is too slow. Please be patient as the safety of the group is most important, not how fast you can go downhill.
3. Respect our Ride Leaders. Some of our rides are designated as “Led Rides”. These have trained, volunteer Ride Leaders whose judgment and direction should be respected at all times. Their primary responsibility is to get everyone out and back safely and enjoyably.
4. Keep the pace consistent. All of our rides have an advertised speed increasing from Social, through Club, to Training. These are organised rides not competitive events – no ride with our club is a race! On the return leg of a ride or along designated stretches there may be the opportunity for an increase in pace but this is via mutual agreement and always respectful of other road users. This is a key challenge for riders on the front. It is always best to go a bit too slower than a bit too fast. Riders should make colleagues aware if the pace is too high or too low.
6. Regroup at the bottom of descents, the top of climbs and after junctions/passing obstacles. Groups often split when they have had to line out to pass a car, or on a steeper/longer rise where it is difficult to keep everyone together. In these cases be aware and steady it up for a while to let everyone to get back on.
5. The front rider(s) is a position of responsibility. This is an important part of the group riding etiquette. When you are on the front you are the main eyes and ears of the whole group. You must think about the group as a single body. Stay eagle-eyed looking for dangers and be ready to call out hazards and communicate them to the rest of the Group behind. Look ahead into the distance to see what other dangers are lurking – and don’t be tempted to turn your head to talk to your fellow lead rider.
9. Good handling and road craft. Each rider is responsible for the basic techniques of riding which improve handling and control, communicate hazards through the group and promote safety for all. If you don’t know about them, ask. When you are riding side-by-side, check periodically to make sure that your front wheel is not ahead of your partner’s (known as “half-wheeling”). Likewise make sure you are ready to brake immediately – positioning your hands on the hoods or drops, not the handlebars is usually best for this. There are also techniques for group riding which manage a smooth change of front riders (”through and off”), switching from side-by-side to single file (“lining out”) on narrower roads or around obstacles and even navigating junctions quickly and safely as a group (sometimes called “snaking”). These are more advanced and need the understanding of the whole group.