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How to ride within a group

Riding in a group means it’s easier to set pace, challenge yourself to cycle harder and longer or distract yourself from tough inclines and bad weather. It’s the sense of camaraderie, the chance to have a good chat while you burn calories and it’s also the reassurance that if you get a flat or injury, you’re not alone. Not to mention, you’ll save energy thanks to the reduced drag.

There are common courtesies and signals every good cyclist sharing the road, trail or even race with others should keep in mind to help communicate dangers. Generally, this visible language – because words can be lost to the wind or traffic – will be performed by the cyclist at the top of the group and then repeated by those behind him/her, ensuring everyone sees the alert. Here’s our guide to group-cycling etiquette...


You won’t forget the first time you ride in a group. It can be quite daunting to have other cyclists so close to you! Before you embark, if you’re joining a club, be sure to check out their website or booklet to see if they have any specific rules and then once you set off, our top tip is to stick to the back, so you can watch and learn from the rest of the group. Consistency is key – hold your line and don’t make any sudden changes to speed or direction and you’re already on track to be a great group rider.

Ride to the side

The main idea here is to watch the back wheel of the person in front of you and follow that, making sure to look up often to see if there are any signals you need to react to (more on that further down). We suggest positioning your front wheel behind – that bit’s important because you don’t want to cross wheels – and a little to the side of the back wheel you’re tailing, allowing more room for mistakes or unexpected jerks.

Remember the rules of the road

Solo or in a group, every rider should abide by the rules of the road. That means stopping at red lights, giving way and allowing cars to overtake when that’s the best option. Even if you think you know better, keep in mind that your actions don’t just affect you when you’re riding en masse, and you could be putting someone else at risk by being flippant. And don’t forget to be polite to other road users. If a car has to wait a long time to pass you, give them a thumbs up.

Look out for each other

This means helping the group stay together – slowest rider included – by passing messages up the line and taking your turn up front where it’s tougher once you’re ready. It’s fine to separate out a bit on hills or long flats where you want to see who’s fastest or get your heart rate up, but make sure you get back into formation as soon as possible, otherwise, what’s the point in riding with others?

The signals to know

Left or right
Because bikes aren’t equipped with indicators, an extended arm pointed in the direction you’re about to turn is the most common of all the signals, and whether you’re a cyclist or not, you will have seen it. Remember to use this one in groups, when you’re riding solo and even when you think there’s no one behind you, so fellow riders know which way they need to go and cars give you the space and time you need to move.

Danger ahead!
If you see a pot hole, rogue branch, loose stone, shards of glass or anything dangerous in the road, you must point to the ground on the side where it lies. This will alert the rest of your teammates to the risk and signal that they should move over to avoid it.

If there’s something – say a speed bump, rail or grid – running across the width of the road which can’t be avoided, even by moving to the side, you need to let your cycling group know. To do this, swing your arm like a pendulum from left to right, adjacent to the road. Everyone will then be prepared for what’s ahead and change to a standing position to avoid too much shock to the wheels.

To show the rest of the group that you intend to overtake a slower cyclist or pedestrian, or that there’s a car parked up obstructing your route, fold your hand behind you.

When you’re riding with a group, and especially if you’re at the front leading the run, it’s your responsibility to signal when there’s a red light or intersection coming up. The same goes for if you need to stop to see to a puncture – or someone else’s near you – or use the bathroom. This one’s an obvious one: simply raise your hand high above your head, and if you feel it’s necessary and will be heard, shout “Stop”. Never come to an abrupt stop without signalling to your group because accidents can and will happen and no one wants to ruin a great day of riding with a ten-bike pile-up or worse.

What if you can’t signal?

When you’re riding on uneven ground, through gravel or going downhill, or find yourself dangerously close to less-respectful drivers and need to signal to your fellow cyclists to tighten up but can’t take your hands off the handlebars, use your voice. Common announcements include “car up”, “car back”, “slowing”, “clear”, “gravel”, “left” and “right”, but just use your common sense and be as clear as you can. In short, there’s no sense in risking anyone’s safety to send a message, so if in doubt, shout!