Friday, October 22, 2010

Cycling in Groups
Cycling with a group is one of the most enjoyable ways of seeing your area and getting healthy exercise. It can be done with family and friends or an organized group where you can share local knowledge or cycling experience. It is a highly sociable pastime. It enables people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to come together, and it doesn't need to be competitive. Most of all, it's an excuse to meet like-minded people and share information about routes and experiences.
Even if you are a beginner and not as fit as you would like to be, many groups will welcome you and help you to progress in a friendly, supportive environment. New riders enjoy their time a lot more if experienced cyclists lead the way, particularly when the group rides anywhere near heavy traffic.
Groups of cyclists are more visible on the roads than individual cyclists, but they still face significant hazards. Ultimately, when cycling in a group, your safety is your responsibility. But there are also lots of handy tips and etiquettes for group riding that will make your outing much more fun and help you to ride safely with others. Here are some to get you started:

Get a good bike
You have to have a good bike when you start riding; as your breakdown could spoil the day for others. You will get advice and tips about equipment from others when you join a group.

Don't Be Late
Group rides typically start within minutes of the official starting time. If you're late, you'll miss the ride. Plus if you hold the group up there will be some impatient people and you'll make a bad first impression. It is a good idea to arrive at least ten to fifteen minutes before the start of the ride.

Communication is the key to safe group rides. Because roads are full of traffic and hazards, and because visibility is limited when riding in a group, it's important to warn others about hazards and to remain alert at all times to the warnings pointed out.

Ride Cautiously and Considerately
Bikes are considered vehicles, just like cars and are required to obey the same traffic laws. Placing your fellow cyclists in danger is certain to piss someone off. Your actions can place a rider behind you in danger so be careful of your surroundings. Ride defensively, predictably, and in a straight line. Always pay attention and look ahead, even if you are talking to another rider.

Avoid sudden and sharp movements
Don't make sudden movements, whether forward, to the side, or by braking to the rear. Don't overlap wheels with the rider in front of you. Signal before you stand up so the rider behind you doesn't accidentally contact your rear wheel.

Be Prepared
Always bring a tube, a pump and the tools to change a flat. It is also a good idea to bring some money on the longer rides because often group rides stop to fuel up. Bringing a cell phone is also good to have in case something happens and you need to call for help. Also, carry some form of identification and a phone number in case of an accident.

Be helpful to others
Be an ambassador of courtesy and kindness when cycling in a group. The other people in the group should recognize you as being an enjoyable part of their community rather than a nuisance. Look for opportunities to help and assist others.

Group rides are a blast! You get a great workout, push yourself harder than if riding alone, cover more distance, and get to hang out with fellow cyclists. There is nothing better than hanging out after a group ride to re-cap the ride. So don't be intimidated. Get out there and ride!

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