Congleton Cycling Club wants riders to gain maximum enjoyment from their group rides whether highly energetic or social. These rules and etiquette are intended to create the safest possible environment in which we can all enjoy our cycling. They apply to all club group cycling activities (club runs, group training rides, reliability trials, etc).
The rules and advice incorporate long-standing practices and will be familiar to all experienced riders. Whilst they have been drawn up to help members who have never ridden in a group, we would like everyone to make a point of reading and following them.
Club Run Trophy.
The Sid Hancock Plate is awarded annually to the club rider who participates in the most club runs. One point is given to each rider completing a club run. Ride leaders should ensure that attendance is notified to the Club Runs Secretary.
Safety and Risk Management
All riders take part in the group runs at their own risk. Those risks can never be totally eliminated but can be minimised by following these guidelines. Senior club members will be happy to offer general advice on group rides. They will politely point out any deviations to the rider(s) concerned and seek compliance. If they believe that a rider’s conduct is putting others at risk they have the authority to exclude the offender from the group run and will subsequently report the circumstances to the club committee who may wish to take further action.
The Club has insurance through British Cycling and Cycling UK to cover claims against the Club and its officers, but it does not cover individual riders. All club members must therefore have individual public liability insurance. Membership of Cycling UK or British Cycling (Ride, Race Silver or Race Gold membership) includes third party insurance and free legal assistance, should you need to claim against someone else.
- Riders aged under 18 must provide a parental consent form.
- Riders aged under 14 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
- Helmets must be worn by riders aged under 18 on group rides.
- A guiding principle on club runs is that the group will travel at the pace of the slowest rider. No one will be left behind.
- All riders must obey the Highway Code at all times. Remember that just as we tend to notice only the inconsiderate or bad drivers so other road users see poor behaviour by some cyclists. Make sure that you do not provide ammunition to the anti-cyclists lobby.
- Ride steadily. Keep a steady line and constant speed while in a group. Any sudden change is magnified as it reaches riders at the back and so can have dramatic consequences.
- When overtaking other riders always do so on the right, never on the inside (left)
- The use of club runs to set segment times for uploading to speed comparison websites such as Strava is discouraged on club runs. The practice is disruptive in a group and could be dangerous. The only exception is on a climb where riders may climb at their own pace.
- Ride two abreast where it is safe to do so but always be prepared to single out when necessary. Ride immediately behind the rider in front – do not overlap either forwards or sideways. Overlapping forwards gives you no chance to avoid the rider in front if he swerves or falls, and overlapping sideways results in the group presenting a three abreast profile. Never ride more than two abreast.
- When approaching a hill anticipate the gradient and change gear in good time. Missing a gear change on the steep bit can bring you to a sudden halt – not a good thing for the riders behind you!
- Riders may ride at their own pace up hills. Hills tend to split groups up. Regroup at the top.
- Treat members of the group and other road users with courtesy. Acknowledge with a wave courteous behaviour by other road users. (Many oncoming motorists will slow down or stop when they meet a large group of cyclists, whilst others allow the whole group to join or cross a major road).
- Do not “wave through” a following vehicle that is waiting to overtake – let the driver make this decision. This will avoid the risk of being held responsible if the overtaking results in any form of accident.
- Do not react to bad driving incidents with gestures or provoke retaliation. Remember a road rage motorist has a one ton weapon!
- Visitors and potential members are welcome to try rides free of charge but should be encouraged to apply for membership.
- Let others know if you are unable to keep up, have a problem, or have decided to leave the group.
Clothing and Equipment
- Wear cycle-specific clothing if possible as it provides a better level of comfort and practicality. It doesn’t have to be Lycra – there are now casual style tops and shorts designed for cyclists. A brightly coloured jacket or jersey makes you more visible to other road users. Carry a waterproof jacket, not only for the rain but also to give an extra layer if you have to stop with a puncture and cool down. A club jacket or jersey will help to publicise the club and also make you very visible.
- Carry enough tools to get you out of everyday problems like punctures or nuts or bolts working loose. It’s easier to change an inner tube than it is to repair a puncture at the roadside (especially if it’s cold or wet). Carry two spare inner tubes, tyre levers, a pump and spanners / Allen keys to fit as the minimum. A puncture outfit will also be needed in case you get more than 2 punctures.
- Helmets are advisory but not compulsory except for riders aged under 18.
- Mudguards prevent you getting wet and dirty. A full-length rear mudguard, including a “buddy flap” that extends the mudguard to within 6 inches of the ground, will be appreciated by other group riders.
- Tyres should be inspected before and after every ride. They should be fully inflated. Look out for bulges or cuts as well as the actual tread depth and pattern.
- Keep your bike in good condition and replace any worn out parts. The group will help if something goes wrong but will not be best pleased if the problem was caused by poor maintenance.
- Carry personal details – name, address, contact phone number – and some money. It is advisable to also carry emergency contact information as well as any relevant medical details that may be useful in the event of an emergency.
- Carry drinks and food, even on short rides. The food can be some form of high energy bar to get you to the next café stop.
Warning Calls When Riding in a Group
The following calls and signals are universal to all experienced cyclists. Please use them at the appropriate times, and always pass the instructions along the group, to ensure that everyone is aware of the hazard:
- “Car back”. There is a vehicle coming up behind the group.
- “Car front”. There is a vehicle approaching towards the front of the group.
- “Single out”. A call from riders at the back of the group when a vehicle is unable to pass the 2 abreast column safely. This call must be relayed forward by everyone to ensure that the move to single file is executed quickly and safely. The standard procedure is for the outside rider to drop back behind the inside rider. The call “single out” alerts everyone to the need to slow up and create spaces in the inside file.
- “Clear” and “Car Left/Right” These calls let following riders know at junctions, where the group is joining or crossing another road, whether or not the road is still clear. If the group cannot stay together the first riders across ride slowly, or stop and wait in a safe place, until the others catch up.
- “Hole” Any pothole that could cause a rider to fall. If possible indicate where it is so that following riders can steer away from it and not into it. Do this by either pointing or adding to the call “on the Left/Right.”
- “On the Left/Right” A general warning of some kind of hazard – usually parked cars or pedestrians. For hazards on the left, an alternative warning is to put your left hand behind your back, pointing to the right, away from the hazard. Give way to pedestrians – they can feel intimidated by cyclists just as we sometimes feel intimidated by motorists.
- “Stopping”, “Slowing”, “Easy”, or moving your Right Hand in an up and down action. This indicates your intentions to riders behind. If you brake without letting those behind know your intentions they can easily run into you.
- “Puncture”. Let the others know and they will wait while you repair it. (You will probably be given help).
- “Horse(s)”. The group is about to pass horses and special care is needed. Pass as widely as possible. Make sure that both the horse and rider are aware of your presence and if you are approaching from behind call out to the horse rider. Keep pedalling slowly as you pass to keep noise from your freewheel and gears to a minimum. Pay attention to any request by the horse rider – they know the temperament of the horse and its likely reaction to a group of brightly clad cyclists.
R.N. April 2013
Updated by Sue Tilstone, and revised at committee meeting, June 2023