Former Pro Cyclist & Ambassador for Coast to Coast, Stephen Cunningham goes over the unwritten rules of riding in a peloton.
There’s something great about riding along in a group and that’s why the Coast to Coast ride appeals to so many. Not only is it a whole lot of fun, it can help you ride faster and further, with up to 30% less effort needed if you do it right!
That said, riding in a bunch can also be a bit of a pain if fellow cyclists don’t follow the ‘unwritten rules’. There’s certainly a bit to know about bunch riding, so I’ve jotted down some below that even the more experienced riders tend to forget from time to time.
If you find yourself in a peloton, the most important thing to consider is being predictable. Avoid sudden movements, changes of direction and maintain a steady straight line. It’s best to think about the effect ANY of your movements will have on a rider behind or alongside of you.
PAY ATTENTION TO BOTH RIDERS AND POTENTIAL HAZARDS – LOOK AHEAD!
Being alert and aware of the riders and hazards around you cannot be emphasised enough. I see so many riders in a group simply relying on the rider in front of them to point out pot holes, parked cars and so on. Take it upon yourself to take responsibility for your own safety and others behind you. Even if I’m 10 wheels back from the front, I’m looking ahead of the peloton and seeing what is coming up, and getting prepared well before someone calls out the hazard.
Brake carefully and only when absolutely necessary. Remember every sudden change in speed you make in a group will have a huge effect on those behind you. If someone does slow in front of you, instead of grabbing a fist full of brakes, think about moving to the outside of your line to avoid hitting the wheel.
DONT RIDE DIRECTLY BEHIND ANOTHER RIDER
NEVER ride directly behind the wheel in front of you. It’s far safer to be slightly off to to the right or left, depending on which way the wind is coming from. If they brake or jolt back from getting out of the saddle, you need to have a quick escape route!
BE CONSIDERATE WHEN OUT OF THE SADDLE
If you find you need to get out of the saddle, be sure to remember the riders behind you. Many riders, even the experienced ones, freewheel momentarily when they first get out of the saddle and the bike jolts backwards. If this is something you’ve seen or you have a tendency to do this, aim to accelerate slightly just before you hop up, so as to create a little gap between you and the rider behind. Another technique is to maintain the pressure on your pedals to avoid the kickback entirely!
I could go on and on, there’s quite a bit to know for those attempting a bunch ride for the first time, but don’t let the potential risks of bunch riding deter you. It’s a lot of fun riding in a group, especially with people you know and trust. I operate bunch riding sessions and go through a range of tips, so please feel free to get in touch if you would like to know more.
Happy pedalling, only 6 weeks to go – The next article will be on a March Coast to Coast Program to help you fine tune for the big event!
As well as being the Coast to Coast ambassador, Stephen Cunningham operates 1 on 1 and small group technique sessions through the summer months in Adelaide. Sign up for his free training tips here as well as a chance to take part in a free group ride.