Firstly, why ride in a group?
There are many reasons for riding in a group whether it’s for safety, social training, competition and fitness. You will learn bike handling and road awareness skills and will be able to learn from experienced riders so that you understand more about riding and enjoy cycling even more.
You’ll make new friends, find and experience different rides and routes and you will be able to find other similar riders to you or riders to improve with and to set yourself goals with too. Also, by riding with an experienced group, we can help you if you are either new to the sport or the area. We will help you if you get into trouble and by riding in a group, you shouldn’t get lost!
There’s no shame in asking for help from more experienced riders, whether it’s changing an inner tube or looking at your position on the bike to sort out aches and pains, we’ve a wealth of experience and want to help you out!
Important information for Sunday morning rides
Details of the Sunday rides are here and the routes are emailed out to all members a few days ahead of the weekend. Please arrive at the Market Square at least 5 minutes ahead of time for any last minute route briefings and to get yourself into the right group.
If it is your first time riding with the club, please make yourself known to one of the ride leaders organising the ride so that you can be looked after and to swap mobile phone numbers.
There’s nothing worse than riding with a group and finding yourself either outpaced or feeling that you might be holding everyone up. If unsure, always choose a lower group and aim to finish strong.
Please read and respect them as you won’t be allowed to ride with us unless you comply and they are there for the safety of everyone:
- No helmet = no ride
- No time trial bikes (including road bikes with extensions) – these bikes are not built to work within a group ride
- Road/gravel bikes only for all rides. Unfortunately mountain bikes, BMXs, fixies, and hybrid bikes don’t work well in larger group rides. If in doubt, please contact us first.
- Single file as we head out on the ride and where necessary on narrow roads
- Shoes – sorry no open toe sandals or poor foot protection
- Please carry some form of identification in case of emergency – At least make sure someone is aware who you are in the market square before we leave.
Group riding – what to do ?
- Remember please these are club rides and we want to ride in groups as safely as possible – please pay attention to the leaders and assistants and accept any advice they offer on safe group riding.
- These are not training rides or races so please respect the group, take your turn on the front, if you are able, and look after each other.
- Try to avoid shooting off the front, it breaks up the group and can make it harder for vehicles to pass.
- The routes are designed to allow you to drop back to a following group in the first few miles if you are struggling with the pace – if the pace is too slow please support the leaders and assistants and next time pick a different group.
- Bring a full bottle, some food, an inner tube and something to pump it up with too!
- Make sure you have plenty to drink, even on a cold day you will need at least 500 ml of liquid for 2 hours and please bring something to eat.
- You should make sure that you have fuelled up before you ride, but an energy bar or two is an essential part of your first aid kit.
- Make sure that your bike is in good working order before you turn up. In particular check your tyres, pressure and brakes the day before.
- Ideally you should know how to change an inner tube if you puncture – don’t be put off, we’re not going to test you!
- Try to pass signals and warnings up the group. These will typically be hand signals or shouts pointing out obstacles to other riders.
- Keep a steady, predictable line. If you need to avoid something in the road, try to be smooth and point it out to other riders!
- Our groups will ride at no more than 12 riders together and our ride leader will be marshalling and directing the ride – so please listen to them.
- In traffic or in town, be prepared to leave a gap or two so that any traffic can safely pass – there is nothing worse than a queue of impatient drivers behind you waiting for what seems like an eternity!
- DO NOT wave a car on to overtake in case of unforeseen situations. It could be a recipe for disaster if someone gets waved through and then another car approaches.
- If a car approaches, everyone should ride close together in pairs or single file, on instruction of the ride leader, and let the car driver decide when it is safe to overtake. Likewise, on narrow roads, do not cut corners in case of oncoming traffic.
Riding in a pack
At the front
You are the eyes of the bunch as everyone else’s view is obstructed by you. It is up to you to spot dangers in good time and ensure everyone in the bunch avoids the danger. Identify potholes/obstructions by pointing and calls such as ‘hole left’ and then smoothly steering around them, giving the riders behind you enough time to react. You do not need to call every single little blemish in the road surface, just the ones that will cause an issue if you are forced to ride through them. Signal parked cars that require riding around and call traffic coming towards you on narrow roads with the call “car front”.
Riding in the middle of the pack
Keep a close eye on the wheel in front and relay any obstruction calls or other instructions up and down the pack. Do not overlap the wheel of the rider in front, if they have to swerve suddenly they will have you and others off. You should be aware of the rider behind you, to the side of you and the five nearest riders around you in the pack.
Riding at the back of the pack
It is your responsibility to warn the group of traffic coming up from behind with the call “car back” and then “coming through” as it starts to overtake. It is also your responsibility to clearly signal to any traffic behind when the group is turning left or right.
Drifting off the back
Tell someone if you have a problem. Tell the riders around you if you have a puncture, mechanical problem, or if you just aren’t feeling too good. Don’t drift off the back without letting the ride leader know.
Riding off the front
Remember that our Sunday rides are group rides, not training rides or races, we’re aiming to ride together, socialise, and have fun!
Don’t attack off the front as it will upset the discipline and pace of the group and makes it much harder for the ride leader to keep track of where everyone is and their safety. If you want to ride faster than the advertised group pace, either go up a group or do so outside of the club ride structure.
From time to time we may race up a climb, or sprint for the town sign on the way back into Saffron Walden. If your group does do this, be aware of where other riders in the group are and be safe! If you’re going to come around someone, make sure you check over your shoulder for cars and other riders. We don’t anyone to have an accident.