Cycling is not something you have to do alone; you can do it with a group of friends. Group riding is a fun activity that combines cycling with team work. In order to have fun without compromising on safety, it is vital to learn how to ride safely as a group. Proper group riding will help you save vital energy and will also allow you to cover long distances with ease. There is also a social aspect to group riding; it promotes harmony and also allows you to connect with fellow cyclists.
The first and foremost aspect of group riding is the riding formation. There are generally two types of riding formations. If you are part of a reasonably big group, the recommended formation is to ride side-by-side in rows of 2. There are two riders at the front of the group. The tail may have either one or two riders.Every 5 minutes, the right sided rider at the front slows down and moves one row behind. His place is taken by the left sided rider in a chain like motion. This technique is called circular through and off or Chain gang techniqueÛ. Eventually, the rider at the lead moves to the back of the group. Sometimes, you can choose to stay at the back and skip a turn to take rest. This formation allows you to ride alongside different people in the group.If you belong to a smaller group, you can ride in a single file, one behind the other. You can make use of aerodynamics (Drafting) to pick up the pace using this formation. Similar to the previous formations, the rider at the front gets to be the lead cyclist for 5 minutes. After that, he/she has to slow down and allow the other riders to move up, thereby joining the tail of the formation.
Rules of Drafting
Drafting is a technique used in motorsports and cycling wherein overall drag is reduced by exploiting the lead vehicle's slipstream. This is achieved by riding close to the cycle in front of you. However, you should never reduce the distance between your cycle and the cycle in front of you to less than 1 meter. Also, you should never overlap the wheels in the group as it causes unnecessary risk to the safety of the group.
Signalling is a crucial part of group riding. As the riders in the back of the group do not have as clear a view of the road ahead as the riders in the front, it is the duty of the lead cyclist to warn the riders at the back with hand signals. The group has to come up with mutually agreed upon hand signals before the ride. The lead rider should warn the other riders about obstructions on the road (ex-Parked car), potholes and speed bumps, an approaching junction etc.
Riding in a group has to be fun and this can only be achieved by following proper group riding etiquette. Stay safe and enjoy the ride with your group of cyclists/friends.