When starting a ride or restarting en-route, after red lights, stop signs, mechanical problems etc. the group leader will announce that the group is starting. All riders will move off together as one unit and when it is clear that all riders are in formation, the speed can increase.
Ride side-by-side with your wheels level to your neighbour’s. Try not to pull ahead (known as “half-wheeling”). Follow the rider in front, but with a slight offset to provide extra braking distance in an emergency. Do not make sudden changes in speed or direction without warning following riders. Always have your hands close to your brakes so that you can react quickly.
Traffic and road conditions dictate when to ride single file. If motorists are experiencing difficulty passing the pack because of heavy and continuous traffic in the opposite direction, the pack leader will decide whether conditions merit changing to single file. The key factor is the width of the roadway or lane. It may be safer to hold up traffic if there is insufficient width for it to pass comfortably. Riding single file may not benefit either cyclists or motorists—it doubles the length of the pack and this could make passing more hazardous because of poor sight distances. Although it is important to try to accommodate the needs of other road users, riders’ safety must never be compromised purely for the convenience of motorists. When single file is called, the inside riders put a bike length between them and the bike in front. The outside riders then move in ahead of the rider on the right. As soon as the heavy traffic has passed the pack should revert to double file.
The lead riders should rotate frequently to avoid fatigue. If you are tired, rotate through the front quickly. If you feel comfortable in front then spend a little more time there, but remember your partner! The pack rotates clockwise when the outside lead rider calls “ROTATE”. He or she accelerates slightly to move up and across in front of the inside rider. Inside lead rider calls “CLEAR” when the outside rider is clear to come across to the inside position. Outside riders move up one place and inside riders back one place. The inside rear rider moves over to become the tail rider.
The lead riders call out hazards such as bumps, gravel, and road kill. Point out the position of the hazard so that following riders know on which side to pass. Following riders give this information to the riders behind.
Lead riders call for the turn. The tail rider should signal the turn. Stop if required, then proceed as traffic permits. If it is not necessary to stop, coast through the turn with right pedal up.
Lead riders call for the turn. The tail rider determines when it is safe to take or cross the lane, signals the turn to following traffic, and instructs the rest of the pack to move across the lane. Riders move across the lane from rear to front. This manoeuvre is repeated as necessary for multi-lane roads. Stop if required, then proceed as traffic permits. If it is not necessary to stop, coast through the turn with left pedal up.
Gear down and proceed uphill. Riders should adjust their speed to that of the slowest rider to maintain formation. If the formation breaks up on longer hills, riders should stop at the top of the hill to regroup. Do not leave slower riders behind—if they are slower, they may have difficulty catching up.
The lead riders must continue to pedal— following riders will tend to catch up because of the benefits of drafting.
Following Vehicles, Oncoming Vehicles
The tail rider indicates when a vehicle is overtaking or slowing down to follow the pack (call out “CAR PASSING” or “CAR BACK”). If there is also an approaching vehicle, the lead rider calls out “CAR UP”. If it is dangerous for the vehicle to pass, the tail rider should attempt to hold it back. When the lead rider signals the way is clear ahead, the tail rider may signal to the motorist to pass, but only if absolutely certain that passing is safe; otherwise, it is best left to the judgement of the motorist.
Separation Between Packs
To assist motorists to pass safely, we must ensure that there is enough distance between packs to allow a motor vehicle to pass and return to the lane. This both optimizes the safety of the pack and acknowledges the rights of other road users. To avoid the formation of a large unmanageable group, two packs should not join up.
When approaching a single rider or slower group from the rear, check that the way is clear, call out “PASSING”, and then pass, allowing plenty of room. Do not cut in front of the riders you have passed. If there is oncoming traffic and the lane is not wide enough for both packs side by side, the pack leader should either wait until it is clear or change to single file and then pass. If there is following traffic, the tail rider should indicate that the group is going to cross the centre line (left turn signal), and signal the following vehicle to wait. The leader of the front pack should assist the pack behind to pass, if necessary by slowing the pace a little.
Lead riders will call “STOPPING”. Gear down, stop pedalling, and brake gently. Move completely off the road when stopping to chat, fix a flat, etc.
Lead rider or group rider calls “SLOWING”. Stop pedalling and prepare to brake. Riders slow down in order from rear to front to avoid catching the rider ahead.