Group Riding Terminology

Groups and Packs

A group is several cyclists who wish to travel at about the same speed. If necessary, groups will be divided into smaller packs of six to twelve riders. Larger packs are difficult to manage; smaller packs will lead to early fatigue.

Group Ride Leader

The group ride leader organizes the ride and is responsible for the route, making announcements and giving directions at the start of the ride.

Pack Leader

The pack leader is responsible for knowing the route, enforcing the group speed, and ensuring each rider follows the OBC group riding rules and group riding techniques. The pack leader calls changes in formation; that is, from double to single file and vice-versa. If the pace is too fast, inform the pack leader who will reduce the speed. The leader must know how many riders are in the pack to ensure that no one goes missing.

GroupRidingTerms.gifLead Riders

These are the two riders in front. The lead riders are responsible for calling out turns and stops, and warning of bad road conditions. The inside rider (closest to the curb or shoulder), is responsible for maintaining the speed within the pack. The outside rider is responsible for signalling oncoming traffic, and for signalling that it is safe for a following car to pass. The outside rider also decides when the pack is to rotate. Pack Riders - These are the riders behind the leaders and ahead of the rear riders. Each pack rider is responsible for passing on information from the lead riders to the riders behind.

Tail Rider

The tail rider is the last rider on the outside. The tail rider is responsible for signalling vehicles approaching from the rear and for initiating left turns and lane changes. The tail rider should also ensure that nobody is left behind—if riders are at risk of being dropped, the pack leader should be advised so that the speed may be adjusted.


Rotation is the process of changing the lead riders so that all riders share the work—it’s about 30% harder “pulling” in front than drafting behind another rider. Riders change positions in the pack so that each rider takes only a short turn at the front, followed by a longer opportunity to draft behind other riders.