Common Pitfalls in the Group Ride, Part 2
Here’s a continuation of the list begun in a previous post, 6 Common Pitfalls in the Group Ride. These are aspects of riding in the group that good riders just know and new riders need to be aware of.
- Hiding Too Far Over in the Bike Lane or Shoulder – Unless you know every inch of your route like the back of your hand, inevitably you’ll be surprised by the sudden loss of a bike lane, shoulder, or the appearance of a curb. Crashes happen this way. I’ve experienced the good draft of being tucked in deep on the inside of the road only to have to bunny-hop a curb suddenly or move over on a rider. Hopefully, riders in front of you will point out the loss of the bike lane or curb but this doesn’t always happen, especially if the group is strung out and pushing hard. If you find yourself jammed into a space that’s too close for comfort, move. I’ll refer you back to #3, #4, and #5.
- Sitting Too Far Out in the Road – This kind of goes without saying but at some point, the bike lane ends and the road begins. It’s kind of an unwritten rule that you can be 1 or 2 bike widths in the street without being a jerk but be aware – especially on a busy street or in traffic. I’ve had my left elbow brushed by a swiftly moving truck and if I got taken out it would’ve been my fault. Always heed the “car back” call and if you’re in the back and you see traffic moving up it’s up to you to make the call loudly and clearly. Anyway, the further out in the road you are, the more you’re in the wind and not taking advantage of the group’s draft. If you find yourself too far out in the street, simply ask the rider to your inside if you can move in line. You may have to move towards the back but that’s better than getting mowed down by Mr. Cranky, the SUV commuter.
- Don’t Drop Your Bottle.
- Yellow Lights, To Go or Not to Go – This seems to be a tricky one for most Group Rides, especially if you’re talking about more than 30 riders and it’s strung out. That can translate to at least a 50′ group, more than long enough for a light to go from green to yellow to red. It’s obviously too dangerous for the front of the group to hit the brakes. At some point, midway back in the pack, someone has to have the sense of mind to slowly sit up and smoothly begin to slow before the light turns red while calling it out and maybe even signaling. It’s kind of bad form to attack at a full-on yellow light but when a group ride is flying and you’re in the back, there’s not much you can do. If the group splits, it splits. You’ve got to be smart and safe. Someone once tried to tell me that a group of cyclists is considered one vehicle so if the light turns yellow then red and the group is still rolling through the intersection then that’s ok. Not true. Not legal. I know this because I’ve been in 11 different group rides at different times over the years that have been pulled over, the entire group chased down by motorcycle cops, and ticketed. Also not smart because traffic from the other side of the intersection that now has a green light could plow into the middle of your group. That’ll ruin a ride and a day.