We all like going out with our friends for a bike ride, it makes training so much easier, especially in the long winter months or when motivation is somewhat lacking which happens to us all! It can however be a bit intimidating when you turn up for the first time and get shouted at for what you seem to be no reason at all! Triathlete Philip Graves has been there - when he was 15 and going on the local chain gang he often used to get shouted at, and still does! But it's a quick learning curve and he has a few handy tips for etiquette to be aware of if your going to go on a group bike ride.
1. Get some mudguards on your bike
I know it might seem trivial but, especially in the UK, if you turn up in the depths of winter on a bike without mudguards your more than likely going to get shouted at before the group ride has even begun. Riding without mudguards is just grim for everyone involved during winter, the poor guy behind you gets covered in mud, cow muck, everything under the sun and there is nothing less unpleasant, so please, if you don't already have them, get some mudguards.
2. Don't Half Wheel
Many people half wheel without even knowing it, but when you're on the front, ride level with the person beside you, don't try and control the pace by riding half a wheel in front of the poor guy beside you. You are all there to train as a group so be courteous.
3. Don't try to ride to a power goal
This is my biggest bug bear on group rides, don't go on a group ride and try to ride to a power. Its very bad form to turn up and then announce your going to ride on the front at 300w, and then spend all day looking down every 5 seconds at your bike computer to check out your stats! There is nothing more scary than riding in a group and the guy in front of you isn't interested in looking where he is going but more in the numbers on his computer. You are there to ride together and look after each other, so if you want to ride to numbers, then my advice is to ride by yourself.
4. Be aware of the particular groups signals
Make yourself aware of the various signals the group use when pointing out potholes when you turn up too. There is nothing more embarrassing than the guy in front of you calling out a pothole, you not understanding and then clattering though it and busting your wheel! Again, the group will look after itself and its a quick learning curve as most calls are pretty straightforward, just keep your wits about you!
5. Changes places off the front with care
Finally, when you come to changing places after riding on the front, most people will tell you that the two people create a gap between them then the two behind come through onto the front. In my eyes this is quite dangerous as it means you're essentially riding 4 abreast on the road every time you change. It's much safer for the biker on the outside to pull in front of the inside one and then let the two bikers behind overtake you as you go to the back, it just means you're three abreast on the road and has to be safer right! Happy riding everyone!
Check out Philip Graves' website to learn more about this youngest Ironman in history and his biking prowess.