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5 essential tips for group cycling

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Posted by Cags R under Cycling on 8 October 2012 at 11:00 PM

After an amazing tutorial with David G and his team mates from Prime Coaching, the Tribesports team have learnt loads about how to ride as a group. Here are some essential tips on how to work together as a team to make the most out of your rides!


1. Slipstream - when riding in a group, the second rider will be working around 30% less than the lead rider. This is because there is around 2 metres of slipstream behind the lead rider as they shield the riders behind from the wind resistance. In order to slipstream effectively you must:

  • maintain a steady pace
  • not make any sudden changes
  • change your lead rider to keep fresh legs leading the chain gang

2. Speed - This should be maintained at a smooth and constant pace:

Time the top of your right hand pedal stroke to the rhythm of "twinkle twinkle little star" and you are rotating approx 80-85 revolutions per minute. Select a gear that is comfortable to maintain and you will be at approximately the right gear!

For many riders, changing down a gear feels like defeat - but you can often go faster in a lower gear with higher revs!

When slowing down, don't forget to ditch the speed by feathering both the brakes before going into a corner, and squeeze on the pedals as soon as the bike rights itself to power out. If cornering in pairs, the outside rider has to work harder to travel further around the corner than the inside rider. And always keep your inside pedal up on tight turns.

3. Positioning - You should be riding close together, not just to the rider in front of you but also to the rider to your side - you should be close enough that you can touch elbows for best efficiency.

When travelling downhill, position yourself further back in the saddle and always break lightly with your front break to avoid flying off! Using your drops in corners and downhill will give you more natural steerage, to use them best you should be wide and low. 

4. Communication - This is the key to group cycling; from pointing out hazards to correcting pace, communicating within your group is a huge part of enjoyment and safety when riding together:

  • riders should be aware that thier voices can get lost in windy conditions and so hand signals are essential in communicating with the group
  • front riders must always raise awareness of hazards like pot holes etc. This message should then be passed back through the group "Pot hole Right side" with a hand pointing it out
  • when making changes to keep the front legs fresh, the riders at the back of the group need to tell transitioning riders that they are the 'Last Man' - a clear call to signal for the riders to rejoin the group
  • if riders fall behind, the group needs to slow down so they can catch up - it is nearly impossible for a lone-rider to catch up with a larger group!

5. Compromise - you may find yourself riding faster or slower than you usually do, either way you will cover more ground more comfortably working in the group so a certain aspect of compromise is essential. The group should ride at the fast pace of the slowest rider - this rider may not spend so much time at the front and should be working hard so the group can make good progress. The only way for this to work is honesty - if you are struggling with the pace then make it clear to the group.

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    Comments

    20130107175651-willr

    Great article @cags. I am pretty new to the world of cycling so for me it was great to get some professional tips. Surprisingly getting use to communicating with other riders in tricky windy conditions was extremely good practice. Overall the toughest part about the tutorial was positioning myself with a constant gap with the other cyclists, I am sure this will become easier the more I practice cycling with the same riders in a group. Roll on Paris!

    Cags R encouraged this.

    20121029110342-joe

    @cags The hardest bit for me was calculating my speed going into sharp turns. I think it's something that I'll get better at with time. Still find myself itching to go for the brakes when I should be at an appropriate speed already! It was great fun though and I learned a lot. Would recommend to anyone who wants to start cycling in a group.

    20130206134704-geordaa

    @cags @willr and @joe - This is great feedback. We are keen to develop further sessions to cater for all needs of riders looking to get something out of the sporting side of cycling. The goal has been to produce competent road-racers, but the techniques we teach are good for time trialing testers, triathletes and sportive riders alike. We will certainly focus on these disciplines in our weekly coaching sessions starting in April. The off-season is here now, but we keep riding through the winter - remember - 1 hour in the wet is worth 2 in the dry! We ride reasonably paced group training sessions on the circuit every Thursday from 18:00 from now until April. We usually cover about 25 miles in the dark, in all weathers. Bring a light, £3 for the session + 50p for a cup of tea and drop in whenever you're free. Be good to see you again!

    Laura H encouraged this.

    20160804052633-flurz

    Wow! It is amazing all the benefits you can get from a riding group if you take advantage of wind and changing the point of the group. Really valuable information for me. Thanks =)

    Cags R and Laura H encouraged this.

    20170330012049-helent

    Just signed on to do my first group ride this Saturday. Great tips, thanks.

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