GUIDELINES FOR GROUP RIDES
When registering with the OCA as a member of the East Side Riders Cycling Club you are required to agree on a liability waiver. To review the waiver click go to bottom of this webpage.
Cycling in general can and often does result in crashes, injury, and even death. Bikes riding on open roads within close proximately to each other can increase the chance of collisions. Below are additional rules to increase the safety of cyclists riding in a group. These rules are not a guarantee of safety but are the best way to ensure that we minimize the risks associated with what can be a dangerous sport. Although the club makes a reasonable attempt to conduct its events safely, you should recognize that riding a bicycle on public roads is very hazardous and there are no guarantees for your safety.
The following 7 rules will be strictly adhered to:
- You must be a fully paid up member to join an ESR ride.
- You must wear a helmet at all times when riding your bike during an ESR ride.
- You must not wear earphones or any other device that may impede your hearing during an ESR ride.
- You must ride with your hands on the handlebars preferably with fingers on the brake levers at all times.
- You must know Ontario roads and highway rules and regulations and agree to ride accordingly at all times.
- You must read and sign the OCA waiver.
- You must show respect for other club members. You may ride competitively but not ride aggressively.
Good Group Riding Behaviour
Riding in the peloton: A peloton is a group of riders who travel as an integrated unit saving energy by riding in formation. Riders take turns riding on the front to create a draft for the riders behind. The reduction in drag is dramatic; in the middle of a well-developed group it can be as much as 40%. The effectiveness of the group depends as much on the skills of riders within it as it does upon their strength and conditioning.
- Ride predictably and consistently: Be a rider the other cyclists can trust. Sudden swerving or braking is dangerous. Other riders will not want to ride close to you, and this affects good group form. Most of the other good behaviors are variations of this.
- Avoid sudden braking at all costs. Be aware that the front brake has a very abrupt stopping affect whereas the back brake is less abrupt. Know which is which. To reduce speed slightly come out of the draft and sit up a bit.
- Do not overlap wheels: Touching a front wheel is the cause of many crashes. You should never overlap wheels with the person in front of you as doing this could result in your wheels crossing and could cause you and others to crash. Always protect your front wheel.
- Hold your line. Veering into another cyclist's path / line is dangerous and not acceptable.
- Hands on brake leavers: Keep your hands on your handlebars with your fingers on the brake levers at all times so that you can react quickly in an emergency.
- How to ride in a group: Follow the rider in front of you, but with a slight offset to provide extra braking distance in case of emergency. Ideally, your front wheel should be a several inches behind the back wheel of the person in front of you. Increase that distance according to your skill level and comfort, the skill level of the person you are following and the skill level of the group as a whole. You will also want to increase that distance a little to account for rough road conditions, higher speeds during descents or any other time you need more visibility.
- Change of Position: All changes should be smooth and gradual. There must be no sudden movements to the left or right (switching). Switching is very dangerous in a group and can lead to serious injury for fellow riders as a result of a crash. If you need to make a change in position left or right, hand signal, voice your intent, and shoulder check to ensure you are not cutting off another rider.
- Shoulder Checks: Ensure that you check over your shoulder, signal and move smoothly over if you need to break from the group. Do not make sudden changes in speed or direction. Remember, other riders are very close behind you and they depend on your consistent and predictable riding to be safe.
- Look up and ahead at all times. Look to the front of the group or at least a few riders ahead of you to be aware of any problems, turns or hand signals well in advance.
- Pedal Consistently: Concentrate on a smooth even pace if you get too close to the wheel in front of you, then simply soft pedal and drift back away from the wheel in front of you. Newer riders will tend to pedal and get up close to the rider in front of them, then coast and slowly drift off the wheel only to pedal and get up close again. This creates an accordion like effect on all the riders behind you and will make you very unpopular in the group.
- Cadence: Your cadence should be between 80 and 100 rpm in flats. On climbs and sprints it can go as low as 60 rpm or as high as 120 rpm. If you are outside of this range, you are in the wrong gear and are risking injury.
- Pace: Ride the group's pace set by the ride captain. If you need more speed and would still like to ride with the group, you are welcome to do jump sprints off the back of the group.
- Pulling and Rotating: When you are pulling on the front, keep your tire parallel to your partner’s. Do not “half’-wheel”. (See the part about maintaining a consistent speed.) Rotation off the front should only occur when traffic is clear. When you are ready to rotate, tell your partner, signal to the riders behind, take two strong pedal strokes to come off the front and rotate according to the group formation. In a double pace line that is right if you are on the right and left if you are on the left. Soft pedal, or reduce speed to rotate to the back of the group. Be sure to save enough energy for the strong pedal needed to come back into the draft. It is a common mistake to pull too long or too hard, and not have the strength to get back on afterward.
- Wait for other Riders: The group will wait if it becomes split because of a busy intersection, mechanical problem, or need to regroup after a sprint. Waiting may mean stopping and waiting well over to the side of the road away from traffic or it may mean riding on SLOWLY (soft pedaling) in proper formation, so that the back riders can easily catch up
- Be courteous and Respectful: As members of a cycling club we have a responsibility to be good examples to other riders, and to demonstrate appropriate cycling behavior to motorists, pedestrians and other cyclists. It is also expected that all members of ESR are courteous and respectful to one another as well as members of the communities in which we ride. Within the club we must remember that each member has their own goals and abilities.
- Use Due Care: Avoid actions that may result in an erratic movement. Do not remove things from pockets, eat, drink, take off clothing, startle another rider, suddenly break ranks etc. It is preferable to eat, drink, remove arm warmers etc when you are at the back of the group. Drinking and a safe shoulder check should be practiced ahead of time to ensure that they can be performed without swerving.
- Communication: Riders in the group may call or use hand signals to communicate if there something of relevance the group needs to know about. Please signal all turns and stops with regular arm signals, well in advance. Also, point out potholes and hazardous objects in the road so that following riders can avoid them. Communicate with other riders about your intentions at all times.
- Leaving the Ride: Inform the ride captain if for any reason you do not want the group to wait for you or if you wish to return home on your own.
- Traffic and Intersections: At intersections, you MUST look for yourself to see if it safe to cross. Do not depend on another rider to determine the "all clear". You are responsible for your own safety. It is easier and safer for cars to pass groups riding in tight formations.
Size: As a rule of thumb, group rides should be no more than 16 members. If more than 16 members are present at the start, the Group Ride may be divided into smaller groups by the ride captain(s).
Pace lines: Ride captains will determine the pace line based on traffic and road conditions. The default formation is always a double pace line but if conditions are unsafe for this, single file is used. Rotating pace lines may be used depending on the wind conditions and experience of the group.
An experienced group member may order "Single file" if necessary, but under normal circumstances even on narrow roads, it is safer to ride in double file since it forces the traffic to slow down and pass safely, rather than to try to squeeze past when there isn't quite enough room
Echelon: Echelon formations are used in cross-winds to reduce drag and improve the efficiency and speed of the group. Echelons formations should not force riders at the back to cross the centre line of the road or to be forced to ride at the very edge of the road.
ESR CLUB WAIVER
Members are required to agree to a waiver including the following:
- Agree that this club, its agents, servants and representatives shall be released from any liability for damage or injury cause to me, the applicant, to my family or to my family's personal property.
- Grant permission to the ESR Cycling Club to use my likeness in the form of photographs or video for promotional purposes without notification or remuneration.
- Understand and agree that my participation in ESR Cycling Club events is prohibited without insurance obtained through the Ontario Cycling Association.
- Agree that I have read and will abide by the ESR Cycling Club Practices for Group Rides, Time Trials and Pursuits.
Group Riding Rules of Thumb, Safety, and Etiquette:
Inappropriate and unsafe behavior on rides is to be reported to the Ride Captain Committee who will make recommendations to the board of directors. If a rider has consistently demonstrated unsafe behavior he or she may be asked to ride in another ride level, or to practice cycling skills before returning to group rides.
- Group Ride: ESR Rides are group rides, so you should be prepared to ride as a group in proper formation and within the speed parameters of that group. If you prefer to ride at your own pace, in your own way, please choose to ride on your own at another time and place.
- Maintain your bike: Keep your bike and your gear in good order.
- Obey the law: You must ride according to the Highway Traffic Act, which means things like: staying to the right hand side of the yellow line, yielding right of way, stopping at STOP signs and red traffic lights; signaling turns; waiting in line at the back of a traffic queue (no filtering to the front) and using good observation at all times.
- Communicate: Communication is important to a good group ride. Communicating verbally or with hand signals is essential to group safety. Signaling when a pull is done, when going over railroad tracks, when there are poor road conditions, gravel, approaching cars etc. are all routinely communicated. Let other riders know if you are not feeling well, if you want to stop to check a mechanical issue, if you feel like the ride is too difficult. etc.
- Be Prepared: It is up to you to carry enough spare money, food, drink, clothing, medical supplies, repair kit, extra tubes, pump, multi-tool cell phone and anything else you may need to satisfy your level of risk. Ride captains will not carry such items for the group.