5 Jul 2016


There are so many advantages to riding with a club – support, advice, safety, comradeship… cake… But the way clubs work is that even though we all have a shared interest, they’re only as good as the behaviors of their members. Even if it’s not a formal club, the same sort of things can upset or endanger any riding group. Certain things come up time and again as big annoyances, so check our Top 10 do’s and don’ts and don’t be that rider!

1. Take your turn at the front
It’s probably the biggest no-no – not doing your part. Sitting in the pack getting a free ride is going to annoy those around you. And then coming to the front and beating others with your fresher legs because you’ve done it is not going to impress either… they’re not your lead-out train. Let your wheels be a reminder that what goes around, comes around.

2. Don’t play leapfrog
Don’t make a pass if you can’t make it stick. If you can only just get by, then have to slow to recover, you’ll just be forcing the other riders to repass. Riders who can’t accept they’re slower get annoying quickly.

3. Don’t sit on strangers’ wheels
It’s the perfect crime! You tag on and benefit from another’s effort, and it’ll never come back on you… or so you might think. Avoid riders thinking bad things about you by asking if it’s OK first – or by stepping up to take a turn and asking to collaborate.

4. Stay smooth
Don’t swerve about for every tiny ripple in the road; avoid overlapping wheels and stick to the ride plan – if you keep sprinting or attacking on the climbs when what everyone else thinks is a recovery ride, you’ll spoil it. Plus the smoother and more predictable you are, the less chance you’ll cause a crash.

5. Don’t litter
It’s obvious, but sadly, needs repeating. Take your wrappers, gel sachets, trashed tubes, C02 canisters and other detritus with you. This is true for every ride, but if you’re in club colors anyone’s behavior will reflect on the whole group.

A clean, well maintained bike – running good quality components – is less likely to break down – or irritate your riding mates with annoying squeaks and rattles

6. Maintain your bike
Squealing, clacking and rubbing can get seriously annoying over a few hours, while stops for avoidable mechanical issues test the patience (and body temperature) of even the most generous ride-mates. Keep your bike clean, lubricated and well-adjusted – and dodge the unsympathetic reaction if anything does go wrong. Chain maintenance is one of our favorites! Knowing some basics such as roadside puncture repair, wheel truing and chain fixes will help.

Always stick to the traffic laws, use appropriate signals and obey signs and traffic lights

7. Stop at red lights
Quite apart from helping you not get killed – or killing the unsighted rider who follows you – obeying traffic rules won’t teach already-frustrated drivers that cyclists are dangerous and annoying. That could help next time you’re vulnerable and in need of a little courtesy.

Groups riding two-abreast is best for safety, visibility and aerodynamic advantage – when road and traffic conditions allow

8. Stick to two abreast – or less
Today’s heavy traffic means tempers are short to start with, so avoid making it impossible to pass for mile after mile, because eventually someone will try. Being morally and legally right won’t mean they bounce off.

9. Help new riders
Clueless, slow and potentially dangerous, new riders can be aggravating… and we were all new once. Help them learn and they’ll improve. Leave them behind, sneer or make fun and they’ll start to hate cycling. We know at least one welcoming local club that came into being purely because of the founder members’ experience when joining the existing club who were so rudely elitist. The original club is not something to be proud of – the new one is.

10. ‘Wheaton’s Law’
It all boils down to this little axiom, now known as ‘Wheaton’s Law’: Don’t be a d**k. It’s named for actor Wil Wheaton, who first popularised it in a speech about sportsmanship online, and it’s since spread to the internet and life in general. It might sound overly simple, but then you could argue that avoiding things that annoy drivers, other cyclists and even your club-mates is a simple idea too. Yet clubs still need rules of etiquette, and riders still complain they’re broken… forewarned is forearmed. At least it won’t be you!

Enjoy your group riding – stay safe and pass on your etiquette and best practise tips by example.