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Old 01-09-06, 09:31 AM   #1
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Not sure which forum would be best so posted here. I have been riding for some time, but I always ride solo. I have been asked to ride in a Charity event, its a ride, not a race but I need advice about riding in a group. I am a bit freaked out over being in a pack of riders potentially crashing into each others. Any advice?

Last edited by foxden; 01-09-06 at 09:32 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 01-09-06, 10:23 AM   #2
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i would say, dont look down at the road, just look straight ahead, and make sure you are aware of people around you. Just dont look at the road, you'll get dis-oriented and change direction.
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Old 01-09-06, 11:00 AM   #3
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There should be pleanty of space unless it's a mass start. If it's a mass start ride, then wait till the bulk of the people leave before starting. Also remember, if you think you're going to crash, you probably will.
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Old 01-09-06, 12:06 PM   #4
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With mass start rides, since I'm not worried about pacing the field I try and stay toward the back at the start, and let things sort themselves out. Usually within the first couple of miles the group starts to get strung out and things aren't so flaky any more. Couple of Tips.

1. Let people know if you are coming up on them, A quick "on your left" is always appreciated.

2. Don't feel like you have to pass everybody the first mile, let things get strung out a bit.

3. Don't do anything 'twichy', no sudden lane changes or slow downs. By the same token, be prepared for some pretty bizarre bike handling going on around you at the start.

4. If it looks like a knot or cluster is forming up ahead, maybe at a turn, don't feel like you have to run up at full speed, just soft pedal a bit so that you can figure out what's going on.

5. Have fun. It's great having lots of people to ride with and chat with.

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Old 01-09-06, 01:27 PM   #5
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If a group start, keep with the group pace at the beginning. Slower or faster than the group leads to accidents. After a few miles most groups break up and spread out. Then you can ride in the gaps with more control.

Be aware of the other riders around you, especially on who is coming up from behind. A mirror helps.
Keep your line and stay straight as much as possible. Don't swerve sideways unless you have to and only if you know that it is clear behind you. If you need to swerve, signal or shout out.

Signal when you are stopping or slowing. Also signal road hazzards. Watch for signals from other riders.

Watch the road ahead. If a rider ahead of you goes down, they can take you and several other down with them. Look ahead of the rider ahead of you for upcoming hazzards.

Listen to what is going on around you.

Keep right unless passing. Don't block the left lane. If you are slower than the group pace, move to the right edge.

If you find that you can't handle the crowd, move to the side and wait until the crowd thins.

Group rides aren't bad. The biggest I've been in was 40,000 at Bike New York, but it thinned out quickly. The densest pack was at a 8000 rider Bike DC with several bottlenecks near the start.

Keep in mind that there is a wide range of experience levels on rides like this. Watch out for the other guy and ride defensively.

ps - being able to do a track stand or a very slow roll helps in a stopped crowd.

Last edited by cc_rider; 01-09-06 at 09:41 PM.
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Old 01-09-06, 01:58 PM   #6
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No sudden moves.

Look ahead. Not at the ground.

Don't overlap your front wheel with the rear wheel of the rider in fron of you.
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Old 01-09-06, 04:33 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by EventServices
No sudden moves.

Look ahead. Not at the ground.

Don't overlap your front wheel with the rear wheel of the rider in fron of you.
I've only done a couple of group rides and it can be intimidating. You've gotten good advice here. I might just add to signal your moves. If you want to move to your left, signal with your hand or simply ask the rider next to you "Can I get in there". Be steady and aware of those around you, including behind you (always assume there is somebody right on your wheel).
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Old 01-09-06, 05:36 PM   #8
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I've done a couple of mass start charity rides,and the first one I started near the back of the pack. It was a bad decision. There were many inexperienced riders on this charity rides, and the first 5 to 10 miles was disasterous. The route was very narrow with many intersections, and I watched many crashes and near crashes as people couln't hold a straight line and ran into each other. Since then, I always start as close to the front of the group as possible. I try to go out fairly fast for the first 5-10 miles, then settle in to a comfortable pace. I figure if I am an average rider, half the field will pass me before the ride is completed, but in the mean time, i don't have to deal with the other half of the field.
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Old 01-09-06, 06:14 PM   #9
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Sometimes charity rides allow people who have raised a certain amount of money ahead of time to start ahead of the pack, and that's a great way to avoid the throng. Just time your start so you are 10-15 minutes ahead of the main pack, but behind the early starters. You'll start to almost empty roads, and it will be a lot more fun. It also means that the rest stations have not yet had a chance to run out of power bars or whatever free food they are offering.
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Old 01-10-06, 06:47 AM   #10
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When you speak of riding in a group on an event/charity ride, it can mean two things to me: (1) riding in a group of riders like a peloton or (2) riding by yourself as part of a large group of other riders also doing the event (that is, one the same route but not necessarily together), whether or not it's a mass start.

As for the first, personally, I don't paceline or ride as part of a tight-knit pack with riders I don't know because there's no basis for trusting anyone's skills and satbility on the bike. If you will be riding with whoever asked you to do the ride, do you know whether they are smooth, accomplished riders who can hold their line? Not necessarily fast, but consistent, if you know what I mean? If you can't trust them because you don't know, either ride slightly off the back until you get a sense of what to expect or ride at the front, out of trouble. Either way, try to get a sense who's twitchy and who's solid.

As for the second, expect the unexpected from other riders, especially when climbing, where slower climbers may scatter across the road. Be careful approaching turns as well, where, again, you can't anticipate what other riders may do. There's also a much-discussed issue of what to do if someone you don't know comes up and sits on your wheel, often without asking or letting you know he/she is there. This bothers some, not others, but it does raise a safety question because of the "unknown" factor.

Some general things I follow on recreational group rides. Don't overlap wheels with the rider in front of you: if he makes a sudden move, you'll go down. Call out obstacles to alert riders behind you, who can't see them. Signal/communicate turns and other moves.

There's actually a great deal of dynamics to group riding safely and productively.
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Old 01-10-06, 04:24 PM   #11
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If you have been asked to ride as part of a team, ask about pre-ride training rides. Most teams will have training rides prior to the event for just your situation. On the training rides, you can get used to group riding in a much smaller group so you will be more comfortable on the day of the event. In addition, you will get to know some of the other riders and this can make the ride more fun also. The team I rode with had a "ride buddy" program to assign an experienced rider to new members to help them get ready for the event. If you are not part of a team, check if there is one with open membership in your area. Lots of them get preferred starting position and have things like massage tents and refreshments afterwards.
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