Group Riding Terminology

Group – This is the generic term used for cyclists who ride together, usually in formation and at about the same speed. Often, multiple groups will be established for a given OBC ride, to ensure that all comprise six to twelve riders, and to be able to offer groups riding at different paces.

Ride Host – The ride host organizes a given ride and is responsible for ensuring that each group has a leader.  The ride host greets members as they arrive for the start of a ride, makes pre-ride announcements and is available to answer questions on the ride.

Group Leader – The Group Leader is responsible for leading a group on a particular ride.  The Group Leader

  • Provides overall organization, safety, enjoyment for the group, including
  • Knowing the route; and
  • Enforcing the group’s speed.
  • Mingles throughout the group to ensure cohesiveness
  • Points out and enforces these riding guidelines & etiquette
  • Is the first point of contact for troubleshooting issues/concerns

Lead Riders – These are the two riders in front, in a double pace line, or the one lead rider in a single file formation. The lead rider(s) are responsible for

  • Calling out turns and stops
  • Warning of bad road conditions
  • Maintaining the speed of the group
  • Alerting the group to oncoming traffic, and
  • Deciding together when the group is to rotate.

Group (or Pack) Riders – These are the riders behind the lead riders and ahead of the rear riders. Each group rider is responsible for passing on information from the lead rider to the riders behind.

Rear (or Tail) Rider – The tail rider is the last rider on the outside, in a double formation, or simply the last rider in single file. The tail rider is responsible for:

  • alerting the group to vehicles approaching from the rear;
  • signalling changes in direction to following traffic;
  • initiating left turns and lane changes; and
  • ensuring that nobody is left behind.  If riders are at risk of being dropped, the group leader should be advised so that the speed can be adjusted.

Rotation – Rotation is the process of changing the lead rider 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 group so that each rider takes a short turn at the front, followed by a longer opportunity to draft behind others.

Soft Pedal – This is a cycling technique where the rider continues to spin the pedals, but with very little force being applied.  This technique is often used when a group needs to reduce speed, for example, when one or more riders is “off the back”; slightly reducing the pace by soft pedalling usually enables all riders to rejoin the group.