Bunch Riding and Cycling Etiquette

Our road rides on the weekend form an important part of your winter training. These rides aim to improve your bike skills, endurance and strength. At the same time, safety is paramount to us and due to large numbers who attend our group rides we need to ensure every rider is aware of the procedures and ettiquette of riding in a bunch.

Every rider has different skills and ability. A strong rider does not necessarly have strong bike handling skills or judgement on the road. So it is important that every rider learns the art of bunch riding to help ensure a safe riding environment for all riders.Particularily on busy (and often dangerous) streets in and around Melbourne.

Becoming a proficient bunch rider takes time and experience to achieve. The key to a safe ride is to always be aware of the conditions we find ourselves in, and to react accordingly. Most important is consideration of the riders around us: what they are doing at any given time, and their level of skill. And of course we need to be continually aware of the road and traffic conditions.

So please ensure you are aware of the following skills for bunch riding and practise these skills each time you are out with a group.

  1. Correction Formation: Riders should pair in two’s riding aroun 30-60cm off the wheel in front.
  2. Position on the road: Ensure the group is always to the left of the road. This ensures other riders and motorists can pass safety. Only ever pass other riders on the right hand side only.
  3. Lead Riders: The lead riders have a big responsibility. They set the pace, call for obstacles on the road etc. So never forget the group of riders behind you. Every rider behind must then pass that same message down the pack of riders. (think of chinese whispers!)
  4. When approaching lights: Lead riders have the responsibility of making a ‘call’ on upcoming lights. Options include “lights/stopping” or “rolling“. Remember your bunch is one vehicle – so if the lead riders ‘roll’ then so does the rest of the bunch. This is why it is safe to keep bunches to around 12-15 riders.
  5. When entering a round-about/intersection: Options include “clear” or “car up/stopping“. Calls must then be relayed down the bunch.
  6. Tail Enders/back of the bunch: The riders at the back of the bunch also have a big responsibility – particularily the ones on the right hand side. This person/s must warn lead riders of traffic coming from behind when on a single lane or narrow/tight roads. Calls include “car back/wait” or “ok/clear back” . Instructions must then be relayed to the front of the bunch.
  7. Rolling turns: Depending on the group and what is designated for the ride, lead riders should roll turns at regular intervals and when it is safe to do so. Never roll turns going up hill or into lights/intersections. When a roll over is to occur, the front two riders agree on a safe section of road and roll off together. Both riders roll right, and form a single file on the right hand side of the bunch. These riders will soft pedal until the reach the back of the bunch. The bunch should not change pace at all during the roll over, it is the lead riders who roll off who slow down.
  8. Maintain a steady straight line: Avoid braking or changing direction suddenly.  Remember that there are riders following you closely from behind.
  9. Point out and call out any road hazards ahead. These include potholes, drain grates, stray animals, opening car doors, sticks or stones, parked cars, gravel, glass etc.
  10. Do not overlap wheels (half wheel): A slight direction change or gust of wind could easily cause you to touch wheels and fall.
  11. Pedal down hill: When you are at the front of the bunch always pedal downhill. Cyclists dislike having to ride under brakes. If you freewheel down hill you are doing as much good as sitting in your lounge chair.
  12. Be smooth with your turns at the front of the group. Avoid surges and sudden changes in pace. A group will travel quicker when turns are completed smoothly.
  13. Avoid leaving gaps when following wheels. Cyclists save about 30% of their energy at high speed by following a wheel. Each time you leave a gap you are forcing yourself to ride alone to bridge it. Also, riders behind you will become annoyed and ride around you.
  14. When climbing hills: Avoid following a wheel too closely. Many riders often lose their momentum when rising out of the saddle on a hill which can cause a sudden deceleration. This can often catch a rider who is following too closely, resulting in a fall from a wheel touch.
  15. Be predictable: Remember what you do affects others so be predicable with your actions. Those towards the back of a bunch feel the effects of every riders actions. So keep this in mind.
  16. Do not panic if you brush shoulders, hands or bars with another rider. Try to stay relaxed in your upper body to absorb any bumps. This is a part of riding close bunches and is quite safe provided riders do not panic, brake or change direction.

Click here to read Cycling Road Rules and Safety


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