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Getting swallowed by a group

Old 04-17-16, 12:27 AM
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Getting swallowed by a group

OK, simple question: what is proper etiquette when being swallowed by a group on a ride?

The girlfriend and I were out riding this morning, when a group of about a dozen and a half caught up to us. I figured they would just blow past, as I was on a mountain bike on a long pavement trail and she on a city bike with a backpack, fairly obviously not dedicated bikers that weren't moving fast, but somehow, we wound up tangled with them for a few miles. Am I correct in assuming that the onus is on them to go around us, not on us to extricate ourselves from their group? What is a polite way to tell them you aren't comfortable being around so many people, especially after two side by side passing too close to the girlfriend caused her to panic and swerve off the trail onto the dirt? We finally got away by hanging back at a street crossing, but it took us some time, especially since we got separated by the group. What is the safest way to just get out of such a situation, especially when traveling with someone far less comfortable on a bike around others?

On an unrelated note, I finally understand this draft thing. Amazing how much faster one can find themselves going in a large group!
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Old 04-17-16, 01:01 AM
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A group of serious roadies -- not just 12-15 mph Freds riding road bikes and wearing the garb, but serious roadies -- would have dropped you easily. Sounds like you may have been caught up in a loose knit group of casual riders who just figured you were part of the gang.

Maybe they didn't know you weren't part of their group. The only group I ride with is very casual with a mix of bike types, clothing styles, etc. When we have a dozen or more riders I wouldn't know whether we'd picked up another group member somewhere along the way, or just caught up with another casual rider or two. Our average speed is only 12 mph so it would be easy for another casual rider to join and keep up with us, and we probably wouldn't even notice.

That applies as well to most of the charity, event and similar casual group rides in our area, which can sometimes involve dozens of riders.

If you'd rather extricate yourself, just carefully move to the right, signal others to pass with your left hand, and gradually slow down until they're forced to pass you on the left. If you need to stop use the usual "stop" hand signal (left forearm downward and away from body, open palm facing rearward). Incidentally, while I see some cyclists signalling for a right turn or move toward the right by pointing with the right hand, I prefer the old fashioned all-left-hand signals. For one thing, this leaves the right hand free to operate the rear brake if necessary. Using the right hand to signal, while suddenly needing to squeeze the front brake lever with the left hand, can be disastrous. Good way to get ones face acquainted with the road. (Assuming the bike is set up with right=rear brake, left=front brake -- apparently customs differ.)

Last edited by canklecat; 04-17-16 at 01:17 AM.
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Old 04-17-16, 05:45 AM
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Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post
Am I correct in assuming that the onus is on them to go around us, not on us to extricate ourselves from their group?
Doesn't matter. I agree with you but it does no good to discuss what somebody else should have done. The first time that I got intimidated to the point of swerving off the trail into the dirt I would have stopped and waited for the group to pass.
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Old 04-17-16, 05:50 AM
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On our group rides, we often come upon solo bikers or small groups, and as we go by, we offer a friendly wave but don't so anything not to spook them.
If you didn't want to continue riding in their group, why not just slow down as they continue their ride?
There was not need to panic, they weren't a motorcycle gang. lol
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Old 04-17-16, 06:22 AM
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Slow gradually and ease to the right. It's that simple.
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Old 04-17-16, 06:28 AM
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Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post
OK, simple question: what is proper etiquette when being swallowed by a group on a ride?

The girlfriend and I were out riding this morning, when a group of about a dozen and a half caught up to us. I figured they would just blow past, as I was on a mountain bike on a long pavement trail and she on a city bike with a backpack, fairly obviously not dedicated bikers that weren't moving fast, but somehow, we wound up tangled with them for a few miles. Am I correct in assuming that the onus is on them to go around us, not on us to extricate ourselves from their group? What is a polite way to tell them you aren't comfortable being around so many people, especially after two side by side passing too close to the girlfriend caused her to panic and swerve off the trail onto the dirt? We finally got away by hanging back at a street crossing, but it took us some time, especially since we got separated by the group. What is the safest way to just get out of such a situation, especially when traveling with someone far less comfortable on a bike around others?

On an unrelated note, I finally understand this draft thing. Amazing how much faster one can find themselves going in a large group!
It's tough because you were with someone else and would have had to signal them your intentions. Normally I have just eeked to the right and slowed down. There are a lot of loose groups out there (say from Meetup.com) so its easy for them to swallow you since it's not really a group of friends riding who know each other.
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Old 04-17-16, 07:31 AM
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All you have to do is slow down a bit and maybe wave them on. If they try to keep you in the group, it's OK to tell them thanks, but to go on ahead, you prefer to ride alone.
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Old 04-17-16, 07:46 AM
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I just road with some folks from meetup.com yesterday for the first time along with 2 coworkers and a spouse that I already knew. We were 12 in a collection ranging from long athletic pants, long bike pants, cargo shorts, cargo shorts with bike shorts underneath, loose fit wickaway t-shirts, tight fit wickaway shirts, actual bike jerseys, and wickaway sleeveless shirt riding road bikes, solid fork hybrid, and suspension hybrid. Some had a small saddle bag under the seat, most had a Topeak rack with trunk bag, a few looked like they were heading to DC with the panniers, and a couple of handlebar bags.

We averaged 12 mph sometimes slogging at 10 or under, sometimes hitting 20. We rode together, some stopping and hanging back to see the eagle's nest, some riding on and getting to the lunch destination way ahead of the rest. We stopped fairly often, had other groups like us pass by, had groups of "hard core" road groups pass by, single and couples pass by and we passed by all the same kind of groups.

When we came across someone or a few people together some of our group would get past while the back of the group wouldn't because of oncoming folks on the trail. Us that would get caught behind you would patiently wait until we could go around. I don't know about everyone else, but if I was the tail of the group at the time, I let the one I was passing know I was the last one, or would tell them "one more coming by."

I don't know how other meetups would be. I knew 2 of the 12 and met the spouse of one of my coworkers. The other 8 I never met, but obviously we introduced ourselves as we all arrived. From then on, you'd ride side by side with any one of the group or in groups of 4 whatever and chat as we rode. Unless it was something huge like 50 or 100 person group, I don't see how you could mistake a single or couple riding getting caught up in your group as someone you didn't realize wasn't part of the group. Even if so, did they not engage in talk with you? Why would someone come up and ride next to another and just ride in silence without engaging at all?

All I know is with our group, this happened quite a few times with catching up with single or couples holding back part of our group due to oncoming people and it was no big deal. Half the group went ahead, the other half waited to go by and said hi as we went by, then caught back up to the group either with speed or by the next time they stopped for a break up ahead. It was up to us as the group going by you with the responsibility to go by you safely and without intimidation.

When I'm out by myself, I have a mirror and see groups coming. When I see them, I just make sure I'm over towards the right and they go by.
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Old 04-17-16, 08:46 AM
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From what be described of 'mrodgers' : I would take it that 'mrodgers' has a bike so different from the "pack", that the other "riders" know that the "mountain bike" not be part of the group. But with the m.b. of mrodgers being within that group, for so much time/distance --- I take it that that the group was showing to whom be 'mrodgers' -- that he was BEING ACCEPTED.
("as part of the group" --- as another BF member said)
Other groups would have a dispute, such as: (a)yelling a non-member out, (b) out-running a non-member -- just as cars do against bikes.
Like car-to-car road-rage.

DON'T COMPLAIN.
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Old 04-17-16, 09:44 AM
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Be like a stone in the stream.

Hold Your Line
, they will go around you and past , You ride in a straight line..

Last edited by fietsbob; 04-18-16 at 11:45 AM.
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Old 04-17-16, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Hold Your Line, they will go around you and past , You ride in a straight line..
That's what "being accepted" means, in 1 of several contexts.
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Old 04-17-16, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Hold Your Line, they will go around you and past , You ride in a straight line..
This. That's all you need to do. Slow a little if you want the group to pass faster. Don't brake and don't swerve.
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Old 04-17-16, 11:52 AM
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Signal to your partner to stop. Signal to stop. Roll to a stop. Wait five minutes.
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Old 04-17-16, 12:09 PM
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If a group catches you from behind it means they're generally faster riders, ans should move on in due course. If they don't, then hold your line and ease off slightly dropping 1-2mph off your speed, until they're clear.

By the same token, if you come up to a group, swing left and pass them and move on.

There's no harm in friendly greetings in the process, but telling people what they should or shouldn't be doing doesn't make anybody's day nicer.
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Old 04-17-16, 12:27 PM
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I think it all depends on the situation. I was on a casual group ride in Portland. Nothing fancy or wild. The worst thing was swallowing a few cars into our group. It would have been better just to force the cars to follow.

Most of the groups I've seen have been less than 1/2 dozen riders, fairly sparse and they should be able to get past a couple of MTBs quickly without issue.

How big was the group? 50 riders? Perhaps just pull over into a driveway and let them pass.
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Old 04-17-16, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Hold Your Line, they will go around you and past , You ride in a straight line..
When sailing you are actually obligated to hold your line and speed, or stand on as they say, when you have the right of way. In biking, as in skiing, I try to be predictable in case I am being overtaken. On the MUP my wife and I ride single file. I generally take a line about one-third in from the outside of my lane. This leaves enough room for oncoming bikers riding two abreast or one oncoming rider hugging the yellow line.
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Old 04-17-16, 12:43 PM
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they fancied your girlfriend ... they knew exactly what they were doing
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Old 04-17-16, 01:48 PM
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Ride slower or ride faster.

But I think you finally figured that out.
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Old 04-17-16, 01:52 PM
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Dial it up to 400 watts and drop them.

Or slow down a bit until they're clear.
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Old 04-17-16, 06:50 PM
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Originally Posted by dim View Post
they fancied your girlfriend ... they knew exactly what they were doing
Ha! Best answer to the question thus far.
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Old 04-17-16, 07:58 PM
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If everyone is following the basic rules of the road, and common courtesy there's no need for anyone to do anything different, or special.

Share the road, and ride your own ride.
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Old 04-17-16, 08:51 PM
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If you realized they paced you and your girl and were uncomfortable. Simply pull off to the side. Enjoy a bit of water and after a few minutes resume your ride.

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Old 04-17-16, 09:00 PM
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To paraphrase George VI, keep calm, hold your line, and carry on.
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Old 04-17-16, 09:08 PM
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Yep, pull over and let 'em pass. Just so the group reinforces in their own minds that they have priority over every other road user and therefore those other road users must get out of their way.
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Old 04-17-16, 10:12 PM
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Originally Posted by dim View Post
they fancied your girlfriend ... they knew exactly what they were doing
HA! I told her that, mostly because she is one of the most shy and bashful people you'll ever meet, and it is hilarious watching her get flustered whenever a compliment is paid to her!

Thanks for the other insight. It was just a group of Saturday morning fun riders, nothing too serious, and they were nice people (one of the ladies rode up and made sure she was OK after the running off the trail bit). We were pushing 14-15MPH, about the peak of my non-draft or hill aided MTB abilities, they weren't doing much more, they caught us gradually but didn't actually pull away. We had another groups blow by us earlier, I figured this would do the same, this was just the first time we got lumped. I rarely ride during common times of the days when big groups are out, and if she isn't with me she rides at county parks where such rides don't happen. She always rides in front of me, if I'm in the front, I have a tendency to take off without her, and with me in the back I've got a picteresque view to follow It sounds like I'll just chat with her that next time this happens, to slow down and get herself out.

It is not so much that we don't want to be friendly, but it was her first time on drop bars, skinny tires, and friction shifting, learning group riding was not in the cards!
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