Group Riding: Wheels, Part 5

othing will take you down faster than your front wheel rubbing the rear wheel of a rider in front of you. I’d take my chances riding on ice before voluntarily swiping my front wheel across a rear wheel. Similarly, you should be conscientious of what your rear wheel is doing. Obviously every rider is responsible for their own bike handling and the protection of their front wheel. However, you can be kind and try to help people avoid slamming into the back of your bike.

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Rapid decelerations happen. It’s simply a part of group riding. Maybe a light turns red unexpectedly, or you come around a bend and see a line of stopped cars. Being ready with your hands on the brakes and an idea of what is going on behind you is always helpful. Just like jumping out of line to allow the group to compress, moving over when stopping quickly can help the person behind you have a bit more time to react to what is unfolding.

In the same vein, your rear wheel can become dangerous if you suddenly swerve a few feet to avoid a pothole or hazard. Sometimes this must be done, but if the person behind you has drifted forward and overlapped their front wheel with your rear wheel, any movement could take them down. Clearly, if you have to avoid something, you move, but knowing where people are may help you know which direction to move to avoid danger and keep riders behind you upright.

And lastly, be careful when you stand. This is a cardinal offense many riders make, even veterans. When you are climbing, your speed is directly correlated to the effort you are putting into the pedals at any given moment. Be VERY careful during this transition from seated to standing. Many riders will stop pedaling for a micro second as they stand, and as a result will slow ever so slightly. Now, if everyone behind you is holding a fairly close spacing, say 8”, and you slow at all, they may run into your rear wheel. To avoid this, and the ire of those behind you, as you stand, pedal into that standing position. Maybe you’re going to shift before you stand, do that first, and stand into the new cadence. But never, ever coast into a standing position and keep pedaling. You will eventually knock someone off the road or crash them completely. Again, it wouldn’t technically beyour fault, but its considered a common courtesy to not drift back into others.

At the end of the day, only time riding with groups will hone your skills, and teach you to intuitively act and ride in the correct and helpful manner. While this list is definitely what I wish I had known before I started riding with a group, there are many more complexities to group riding that could be discussed.

What would you add from your experiences riding with a group? Let me know in the comments.