Club Guide Group Riding With The Cranks
Please read this page if you are new to the Cranks and group riding.
GROUP RIDING WITH THE CRANKS
The aim of this document is to help and encourage everyone (Fast, slow, young, old, man or woman) to enjoy group riding.
If you are about to embark on your first club ride with the Cranks it might seem a bit intimidating, but don’t worry about anything, we have experienced riders to help you on your journey. Every one of us started out new at some point – so turn up and say hi to the other Cranks (They don’t bite) and you will be made very welcome.
If you are new to group riding there are some things you can do before to aid your preparation for the ride and some guidelines you can read to help you pick up the essential group riding skills.
The preparations will make you more comfortable and mitigate if things go wrong (punctures etc.), being familiar with the group riding guidelines will make things safer for you and the others you ride with.
How to join?
It’s free just ask to be added to our group on Facebook and you’re a Crank:
We are also affiliated to British Cycling and you can select Mickey Cranks CC as you r club when you join, if you are joining for the first time you can use the link below to get a discount. British Cycling membership is advised (you do not need to be a BC member to ride with us) as it gets you third party insurance.
Which group should I pick?
It is recommended to pick a group you think will be below your ability level first time out. Average speed means there will be sections that are harder and faster than the average speed suggests. Once you find yourself at the front of your current group more often than not, it is time to move to a faster group.
Steady Eddies: Average speed as appropriate to the people who attend, distance 20-30 miles as a guideline, this is our social and starter group, no dropping people if possible
Steadies: Average speed 14-17 mph, distance 30-45 miles as a guideline, no dropping people if possible
Super Steadies: Average speed 16-18.5 mph, distance 40-55 as a guideline, no dropping people if possible
Medium: Average speed 17-19.5 mph, distance 50-65 miles as a guideline, people occasionally dropped
Fast: Average speed 18.5-21+ mph; distance 50-70 miles as a guideline, regular dropping of experienced riders.
Riding is what we are all here for and in a group its fun, sociable and can be challenging physically. Riding close to other people at speed requires care and adherence to a few basic guidelines to stay safe.
Riding in pairs
We ride in pairs with the pair being roughly two feet apart. On wider roads this formation makes the group compact and easier for cars to overtake.
If there is only one rider in front of you, one of your pair should move to fill the gap and so on through the bunch. Your pair should be close to the pair in front. A spacing of 1-3 feet is ideal on flat or gently inclined road. Avoid leaving big gaps between your pair and the one in front. Leave more space if you are less confident or you think you may need to brake soon.
When going downhill at speed leave a lot more space to brake and manoeuvre, tens of feet.
Braking whilst riding in a group
When riding at the front of the group, try to be as aware as you can of what is up ahead in the road to avoid sudden manoeuvres or the need for sharp braking. Avoid using your brakes as much as possible and when you do, be aware that someone is likely right behind you so feather your brakes.
Going single file
In order to let cars pass on narrower roads or to ride along main roads the call ‘single file’ will go up from a ride leader or the riders at the front of the group. The rider on the right (closer to the centre of the road) should move smoothly behind the rider on the left. The riders toward the rear of the group on the left hand side will need to slow to allow the extra space required.
Rotating riders on the front of the group
Everyone should get the opportunity to share the work on the front of the group. Here it can be windy and much harder work than in the bunch.
When you get to the front, initially maintain the same speed as the people before you. Don’t surge away – the guys or girls on the front before you may be tired after their turn and need a chance to get to shelter on the back of the bunch. After your initial move to the front at the same speed as those before you, you should then attempt to keep a constant effort as the road goes up or down (this no longer means a constant speed!). As a guide, your turn on the front should be about 5-10 minutes. Less if you need to.
Once your time on the front is up, you should pick a suitable piece of road that can accommodate four people side by side and indicate your desire to rotate to the back as a pair. This can be done by pointing up in the air and circling your hand. The pair of riders should move apart to either side of the bunch and begin to ‘soft pedal’ – easing off the gas and allowing the two lines of riders to pass between them. When you get to the back of the bunch, move smartly back into position behind the last riders and recover from your efforts.
- Point to substantial hazards on the road surface with one finger. Call out if significant or numerous hazards (e.g. lots of potholes)
- All fingers outstretched, pointing towards hazard in road – gravel or loose surface
- Arm bent behind back, elbow making an arrow pointing to large hazard on one side of the road to be avoided (e.g. parked car, runner in road)
- Hand straight up (if safe to do so) – puncture or mechanical – also, call out ‘puncture’
- Palm of hand held steady facing rider behind – stopping
- Palm level to ground, hand raised and lowered – slowing
- Hand in air making circling motion – intending to rotate from the front to the back of the group
- Arm outstretched to left or right – indicating a turn left or right
- If a car is coming towards the bunch from in front on a narrow road, call ‘car front’
- If a car is coming towards the bunch from behind on a narrow road, call ‘car back’
All groups should wait at the tops of hills and junctions for the whole group to reform be setting off again, this only works if people pick the appropriate group for their fitness level, be honest people. If you are clearly holding up a group, ask them not to wait the next time you are dropped and join a slower group the following week.
If you are struggling with the pace
Make people around you aware you are finding the pace hard. They can help look out for you.
When did you last eat or drink? You may need more food.
Go to the back of the group and seek shelter from the wind, do not take turns on the front. It is better to finish than blow up taking a turn on the front.
Being self-sufficient (if you get dropped)
Getting dropped a few times can be part of moving up to the faster groups. You might have to push to your limits a few times to get fit enough to be able to last the whole distance, particularly in the medium-fast and fast groups. It can be disheartening, but do not fear. Be prepared to navigate your way home. Take a map or GPS device or simply follow the road signs if you are confident with that.
It is particularly important to be self-sufficient if you get dropped. You must be able to fix a puncture (or two) and have the kit outlined in the What To Bring section. If it all goes horribly wrong, a mobile phone should be your last line of defence.
If you chose a group that is slower than your fitness level it is not acceptable to smash it and ruin the experience of the others (Except in the fast group, anything goes), ride at that groups pace and chose a faster group next week.
Be courteous to all road users and obey the Highway Code, if you are wearing a Cranks jersey you are representing the Club and we will all be judged by your actions.
- If you are on the road you should obey the traffic laws. This will keep you safe and other road traffic will know what to expect from your movement on the road
- Stop on red lights. No exceptions
- No obscene language, gestures or road rage. There is no place for this. No exceptions
- As you approach horses go slow and keep talking / making noise, give a wide berth
- Say hi to other cyclists and road users, we are a friendly bunch
Each ride will have a Ride Leader that is responsible for gathering the group, starting the ride on time and helping everyone have a fun and safe ride. The Ride Leader should:
Before the ride starts
- Welcome anyone new to the group
- Brief the route to be followed
- Count the numbers in the group
- Divide the group into sub groups if the numbers are excessively high and appoint sub group leaders
During the ride
- Keep the group together
- Identify and call out any unsafe behaviours
- Identify regroup points and regroup to keep everyone together
- Create sub groups with sub group leaders if the group’s fitness abilities are to wide
- Keep count and ensure all are still in the group
What to bring:
For a standard club ride of 30-75 miles depending on the group you choose, a typical example of what one person might need is:
- 1 Gel
- 1 Energy Bar
In summer 2 bottles of water and 1 in winter, energy drink is advisable.
- Two tyre levers
- Two inner tubes – check they are the correct size and valve type
- Something to pump your tyres with. Try using it before you need it.
- 4mm and 5mm allen keys (most modern bikes use these for many parts) or a bike specific multi tool
Always look at the weather forecast and dress appropriately for the weather, if you are new to group riding, just ask on the Facebook and the more experienced riders will help.https://www.facebook.com/groups/mickeycrankscyclingclub/
The Cranks are big fans of cake and coffee so bring five pounds for the café stop.
Should the worst happen and you end up stuck on your own, you can call you Mum in emergencies.
Know how to:
- Repair a puncture
- Adjust your brakes
Dropping people from the group (how to help them)
If someone is struggling you can do a number of things:
- Slow the pace to allow them to recover
- Check they have eaten / drunk
- Check they are not getting a flat tyre
- Send them to shelter towards the rear of the group (not the very back as they might disappear without the group realising)
- If someone drops off the back a stronger rider might go back to collect them, allowing them to draft the stronger rider back to the group
Eating and drinking enough
There is lots of information on this available in books and online. As a guide, eat and drink little and often (every half hour is ideal).
Making sure your bike is in good mechanical order
- Brakes must work well.
- Tyres should be in reasonable condition and pumped up
- Gears should change acceptably and not throw your chain off
- Your bike generally should not be likely to break down
Remember our main objective is to have fun and enjoy group riding #crankitup