Friday, 16 October 2009



Riding in a bunch can be the most enjoyable experience if done in the right way. However, bunch riding can also be a huge pain if people in the group don't understand the rules. Everyone needs to know these rules for everyone's safety.

1. Hold your wheel
An appropriate gap between your front wheel and the person in front is around 60cm (2 foot). Keep your hands close to the brakes in case of sudden slowing. Sometimes people who are not used to riding in a bunch will feel too nervous at this close range - riding on the right side is generally less nerve-racking for such people as they feel less hemmed in. Watching "through" the wheel in front of you to one or two riders ahead will help you hold a smooth, straight line.

2. Don't leave gaps when following wheels
Maximise your energy savings by staying close to the rider in front. Cyclists save about 30 per cent of their energy at high speed by following a wheel. Each time you leave a gap you are forcing yourself to ride alone to bridge it. Also, riders behind you will become annoyed and ride around you. If you are in the bunch and there is no one beside the person in front of you, you should move into that gap (otherwise you will be getting less windbreak than everyone else will). Conversely, if you are that person and no-one moves into that gap beside you, you should move to the back of the bunch, the next pair to roll off will come back and one of those riders will fall in beside you.

Keep the gap between you and your partner at the side to about 1ft (30cm) any more and it makes it more difficult for drivers to pass, also to the motorist behind it can look like you are riding 3-a-breast if you sit further out.

3. Don't overlap wheels
A slight direction change or gust of wind could easily cause you to touch wheels with the rider in front and fall.

4. Brake carefully
Ride safely and try to stay off the brakes. If you are inexperienced and too nervous to ride close to the wheel in front of you, stay alone at the back and practice. When the pace eases, don't brake suddenly, instead ride to the side of the wheel in front and ease the pedalling off, then drop back on the wheel. Practice on the back and soon you will be able to move up the line with a partner.

5. Rolling through - swapping off - taking a turn
After having a turn on the front, the right hand rider (i.e. the non-kerbside rider) moves in front of his/her partner and is joined at the front by the rider who was riding behind.
In addition to getting the opportunity to talk with everyone in the group this also means that the group never gets any wider than 2 riders.

6. Be smooth with turns at the front of the group
Avoid surges. acceleration causes gaps further back in the bunch which in turn create a "rubber band" effect as riders at the back have to continually chase to stay with the bunch. This is particularly evident in larger bunches when cornering or taking off from standing starts at traffic lights where the front of the bunch can be almost at full speed before the back of the bunch is moving.

7. No half wheeling
Make sure you know the general speed of the bunch, when you go to the front, keep your speed around the same, and keep your wheels and handlebars in line with the person next to you.

8. Always retire to the back of the bunch
If riders push in somewhere in the middle of the bunch rather than retiring to the back after taking a turn, it can get tricky and means other riders will have to wait longer for their turn on the front

9. Do not panic if you brush shoulders, hands or bars with another rider
Try to stay relaxed in your upper body to absorb any bumps. This is a part of riding in close bunches and is quite safe provided riders do not panic, brake or change direction.

10. Forward pressure
Many riders, even the experienced ones, freewheel momentarily when they first get out of the saddle to go over a rise or a hill. When doing this, the bike is forced backwards. Try to keep forward pressure on the pedals when you get out of the saddle to avoid this situation.

11. When climbing hills, avoid following a wheel too closely
Many riders often lose their momentum when rising out of the saddle on a hill which can cause a sudden deceleration. This can often catch a rider who is following too closely, resulting in a fall from a wheel touch.

12. Look ahead
Do not become obsessed with the rear wheel directly in front of you. Try to focus four or five riders up the line so that any 'problem' will not suddenly affect you. Scan the road ahead for potential problems, red lights etc, and be ready.

13. Lead in front
Remember when you are on the front, you are not only responsible for yourself but everyone in the group. When you are leading the bunch, try to monitor potential problems and give plenty of warning of impending stops or changes of pace. Make sure you know where you are going

14. Don't use your aero bars in a bunch ride
Never use your aero bars in a bunch ride - not even if you are at the front. Using aero bars means that your hands are away from the brakes. Aero bars are for time trial or non-draft triathlon use only.

15. Experienced riders should share their knowledge
Experienced riders should point out any mistakes made by less experienced riders. This must be done diplomatically of course, but it is important to make people aware of unsafe riding and help them learn the right behaviour. Riding in a bunch is about everyone's safety.

Many thanks to the ERC and

No comments: