I was out on this past Tuesday’s PMTNR and I started looking around and noticing a few things. The first thing I noticed was that there were a whole bunch of new people. The second thing I noticed was a bit more immediate to the ride; we had two accidents in the first fifteen minutes of riding, which was something I hadn’t really seen before. Since I was close to both crashes (nobody was injured in the making of these crashes by the way), it was easy to see how they happened. Too many people bunched in too close proximity, and not familiar with the unwritten rules of group riding that you learn over time.
All that said, here is a list of what I hope are some helpful tips if you are new to group riding.
1. Know thyself. Only you know how comfortable you are on a bike. When on a group ride, people can get squashed together. It’s good to know how much personal space you need.
2: Increase your sphere of awareness. Here’s a great rule I learned guiding a raft. On a group ride, there will be people all around you. Pay attention to what’s happening.
3. Stopping and starting. If during a ride you need to stop for any reason and there are people behind you, let them know. You can do the slowing/stopping hand signal, or you can yell, “stopping!” loudly enough for the people around you to hear. This will keep the people behind you from crashing and they will appreciate your consideration. When starting make sure you have enough space. If you are a wobbly starter, you need more space…make space for yourself to get going
4. Passing. It is so helpful when you are passing someone to yell out, “On the right” or, “On the left” to the person you’re passing, especially if you are trying to squeeze by in a small space. If the person in front of you doesn’t know you’re coming, they may swerve and you will have caused the accident by not letting someone know you’re there.
5. Gear. Wear a helmet and have appropriate lighting. Check your tires before heading out.
6. Remember this is a ride, not a race. There are no trophies at the finish line, and hey, there isn’t a finish line. This has been a difficult concept for me since I can be just a little competitive. But a few weeks ago on a ride I heard someone say to a friend, “This is the perfect pace for just relaxing after a hard day.” It really struck me that that was the point of PMTNR, to have a nice relaxing time after work. It’s important on a group ride to make sure we can all finish safely. Look out for your fellow riders by not trying to blow them away with your super human speed. There are other wonderful rides in Charlotte if you want to practice going fast.
7. Final tip–have fun. That’s what you came to do!