Group Riding Tips
Our monthly Road and Gravel Rides are all led by Hotchillee Ride Captains and the perfect way to start meeting your fellow Chillees, hone your group riding skills and get some social kilometres under your belt.
There are groups for all levels and all have a no-drop policy so, even if you’ve never been on a group or club ride, you’ll be made to feel very welcome and will soon be at ease in a group.
If you’re joining a Hotchillee ride for the first time, introduce yourself. You’ll easily be able to identify the Ride Captains by their distinctive kit. If you’re new to group riding or a bit rusty, be honest about this and let other riders know. Similarly, if you are an experienced rider, introduce yourself to new riders, help them out, give them pointers in a friendly way and make them feel welcome. Don’t forget, social distancing measures are still in place so no hugs or handshakes quite yet.
Before heading off make sure you understand what sort of group ride it is and what’s expected. There’s a big difference between a no-drop ride where no rider is left behind and a chain-gang where the opposite is true. If you’re unsure about anything, ask.
There are no stupid questions, we were all novices once. A good tip is to set off near the back of the group behind a reliable wheel. It’ll give you confidence and a chance to see how the group works and rotates.
1. Ride smoothly and predictably
The key thing to remember is that any deviations you make in direction or pace will be magnified back through the group. Keep it smooth, hold your line and don’t be grabby with your brakes. Also, if you stand up out of the saddle, don’t allow your rear wheel to kick back.
2. Look through the bunch
Don’t fixate on the backside of the rider in-front or their rear wheel. Look through the bunch to the front and ahead down the road. This will allow you to anticipate how the bunch is going to move, give you much more time to react to any changes of direction and give you a heads up for shifting and braking.
3. Not for training
Don’t turn up for a group ride with your own training agenda. That’s not to say that you can’t bank some valuable kilometres on a group ride but it’s not the time for trying to stick to heart rate or power zones. If you’ve got a set workout to do, either ride solo or get your intervals done before or after the group ride.
4. Don’t overlap wheels
It’s fine to ride to the side of the rear wheel of the rider in-front, especially if you’re building your confidence in following a wheel. However, never allow your wheel to overlap their’s. If they have to move to avoid something, there’s a good chance that they will clip your front wheel and possibly bring you down.
5. How close is close enough?
A tightly grouped bunch of well drilled riders is a beautiful thing to behold but don’t feel pressured to stick limpet like to the wheel ahead. Ride as close as you feel comfortable with and, as you build confidence in your own ability and in the riders around you, close the gap a bit at a time.
6. Be on time and ready to roll
Or ideally be 5 minutes early for the meet-up. Don’t be that rider who arrives just at or after the planned roll-off time and then has to faff around with pumping tyres up, getting the route on their computer or fiddling about adjusting their saddle height. Especially if the weather’s poor, holding up setting off isn’t going to make you very popular.
7. Look after your bike
One of the few downsides of group rides is that, with a greater number of riders, the chance of punctures or mechanicals increases. This is inevitable but, by making sure that your bike is well maintained, you can improve the group’s odds. Every group seems to have a rider who’s more plagued by mechanical woes and, although luck may play a part, you can almost guarantee they’re neglecting basic maintenance.
8. Be self-sufficient
Even though you’re in a group, you should still carry the same kit and spares as you would if you were riding on your own. The same applies to hydration and fuelling. Make sure you keep on top of it and don’t be reliant on a café stop. Try to stay aware of roughly where you are and if the route has been shared beforehand, make sure you’ve downloaded it onto your GPS.
Most importantly – have fun!
We put these tips together as a guideline and we hope that they give you a good idea for what to expect on a group ride. We hope that by taking these on, you’ll be able to have more fun than ever before and relax in the company of some great cyclists and friends.
We’ll see you there!
Hopefully after reading these tips, you’ll be feeling ready to come along on one of our monthly social rides. To save your spot, head to our Rides & Activities calendar and choose a group. We usually set off with around 4 ability groups on road and 2 groups on gravel.