Ride Etiquette

 

The purpose of this page is to outline some basic etiquette, rules, and knowledge that every member of the Velocity Cycling Club rides should be aware of including the following:

  • Basics
  • Learn to Ride Clinics
  • Starting the Ride
  • Intersections
  • Group Formations
  • Single File
  • Rotating Pace Line
  • Echelon
  • Dos and Don’ts of Riding in a Group
  • Roles in Formations:
  • Common Terms:
  • What to Bring

If you’d like to download a PDF of the following information, please click on the link (Ride Etiquette PDF)


Basics

  • All traffic laws should be obeyed
  • Courtesy to other users of the roadways should be extended at every possible opportunity
  • Everyone on a Velocity Cycling Club must wear a helmet to start the ride. No exceptions will be made.
  • To take part in a Velocity Cycling Club group ride you must first become a member of the Velocity Cycling Club (link). Again, there are no exceptions to this rule as having non-members present invalidates the ABA insurance benefits for ALL participating riders for the duration of the ride.

Learn to Ride Clinics

All Velocity Cycling Club members who do not have experience riding in a group are strongly encouraged to take part in at least one ‘Learn to Ride’ clinic. The Learn to Ride clinics are focused on building the experience, confidence, and technique that is essential to riding comfortably in a group.

Learn to Ride clinics are held regularly in the beginning of the season and are lead by an experienced instructor. Please see our Weekly Update on the Club website for more details about our next Learn to Ride clinic.

If a member joins the club during the latter part of the season when the Learn to Ride clinics have ended, please contact a Ride Leader to see which ride would be best to start with. The Tuesday Urban Hills nights are usually a good start because of the repeat format.


Starting the Ride

VCC Rides should always start at a casual rolling pace The ride leader will signal the start of the ride and move off slowly. When all riders are present and in formation, the pace will gradually increase until it reaches a comfortable endurance pace.

VCC Rides often start together before splitting off into smaller groups doing longer and shorter routes. As such, the beginning ride pace should be set at an intensity that is comfortable for all members during the first 10-20km of the ride. Once the ride leader splits the group into smaller groups, there will be ample opportunity for stronger riders to increase the ride intensity, however the first portion of every ride should be viewed as a warm-up and an opportunity to meet members of the club whom you otherwise wouldn’t meet.


Intersections

During rides the club is often required to stop at intersections and cross busy highways and this section outlines a number of key things to remember when crossing multiple lanes or merging into traffic.

When stopping at an intersection, it is not necessary for the group to maintain its formation. Rather, it is acceptable to spread across an entire lane for the duration of the intersection. This ensures that the club can cross as quickly and as safely as possible. Once on the opposite side of the intersection, the pace should remain slow as riders quickly move to reform their single or double pace-line formation. Once everyone is together, the pace will again accelerate gradually to the level that it was at prior to the intersection.

At stop signs and red lights, the group should operate like a single unit. A ride leader will signal when it is clear to cross each intersection and, when it is safe to do so, the entire group should cross at the same time.

When vehicles have the right of way, do not proceed even if they have stopped and have given way to the group. Instead, wave the vehicle on and wait for an appropriate break in traffic. The reasoning behind this is that visibility may not allow following full-speed drivers to see the stopped car or the group with enough time to also stop. It is sometimes difficult to tell if another lane of traffic may pose a danger, and we cannot encourage drivers to stop on busy highways for a group of cyclists. While the drivers’ intentions are no doubt kind, it poses a serious safety risk for both the club members and the driver if a vehicle is stopping to wait for the group on a busy road. One way to prevent this from happening is to come to a stop a few meters back of the highway crossing as to not given the appearance of encroaching into traffic.

 


Group Formations

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Single File

At times, road conditions may deem it necessary to ride in a single-file line. When this is the case, the ride leader will signal for the group to “Single-Up”. For example, VCC rides occasionally use busier secondary highways for short periods of the ride. The ride leader may determine that these routes are safer to travel as a single file. When this signal is made, riders on the left side of the double-pace line will move forward and ahead of their partners (see diagram). When done properly, this process should take no more than 10 seconds. When forming a single file line, please remember, that riding single files does not mean the pace should increase. Rather, the pace should be consistent with whatever it was a previous and riders should fight the temptation to increase their intensity.  

Although it is always important to accommodate the needs of other road users, this must never be done in a way that compromises cyclist safety.

Rotating (Circular) Pace Line

For the majority of most rides, the Velocity Cycling Club will ride in a rotating pace line. As the diagram demonstrates, a rotating paceline sees a double file line of riders in which one side moves forward in the group and the other side moves backwards in the group. In other words, a rotating paceline line sees one line of riders continually passing another line. When the rider in the faster moving line moves past the front of the slower moving line, they will switch lines and become part of the slower moving line.

When a rider switches from the faster to the slower moving line, they should be sure to move predictably and smoothly. Once in the slower moving line, they should lighten up on the pedals and allow the next rider in the faster moving line to move over and join with the slower moving line. It is the responsibility of the rider in the slower moving line to adjust his/her speed to accommodate the front rider (ie: don’t force the next rider to accelerate to get around you. Once the next rider is parallel with you, you can start to go ‘backwards’, and that way the average pace stays relatively constant).

Each rider’s time on the front can range from as a little as a few seconds to up a minute. When riding on the front, each rider should maintain the same intensity and pace as the rider that preceded them (unless otherwise directed) and should take extra care to avoid the temptation to accelerate once they reach the front.

Echelon

An Echelon is similar in many ways to a rotating paceline, however, while a rotating paceline occurs when both lines are riding in a perpendicular line, and echelon forms when there is a strong cross wind and resembles two horizontal lines of riders. As the diagram shows, forming an echelon in a cross wind allows each rider in the pack to get as much shelter from the wind as possible. The side of the echelon that moves forward should always be on the protected side of the group while the side of the group that moves backwards should be on the exposed side. Typically, the pace in the slower moving line is often 1-3 km/h slower than the faster moving line. Riders in an echelon should ride as close to each other as is safely practicable.

Unlike in a rotating paceline, each riders turn at the front of an echelon should only last a few seconds. While this is sometimes the case in a rotating paceline, this should always be the case in an efficient echelon. It is helpful to visualize an echelon as a continually moving formation. Riders will constantly be either moving up in the group or moving back in the group. The key to allow this to happen smoothly, efficiently, and safely is for riders to constantly communicate with each other.


Dos and Don’ts of Riding in a Group

  • Do continuing pedalling at the same intensity when you are on the front on a downhill section
  • Do maintain the same intensity up climbs as you were on the flat sections of the ride
  • Don’t accelerate when you reach the front of the group
  • Don’t halfwheel (see common terms for description) the rider in front of you.
  • Do indicate the presence of debris, railways crossings, stop signs, potholes, etc. on the ride
  • Do ensure that the entire group is together before resuming your previous intensity after railway crossings and intersections
  • Do stop the group to wait for and assist riders with mechanicals or flats and alert the front of group when this is necessary
  • Do communicate with your fellow ride members as much as possible
  • Don’t be late for the start of a ride. Rides leave on time.

Roles in Formations:

Front: Maintain constant speed, indicate debris/railways/stop-signs/etc.

Middle: Stay alert and responsive to signals from in front

Back: Monitor upcoming traffic from behind, stay alert and responsive to signals from in front


Common Terms:

“Car Back” – Means a car is approaching from the rear of the group and an action is required to allow it to safely pass the group

“Car Up” – Means a car is approaching from in front of the group and an action is required to increase safety margins

“Flat!” – Means that a rider in the group is experiencing a mechanical issue and the entire groups should wait for them

“Half Wheeling” – When a rider who is drafting behind another rider moves so so close to the rider ahead that their front wheel begins to overlap with the rear wheel of the rider they are drafting. This can be dangerous because the front rider may have to swerve to avoid a road debris and, in doing so, hit the front wheel of the rider behind. Half wheeling should be avoided in all formations except for the echelon.

“Whoa”, “Ease Up”, or “Easy” – Means that the pace of the group needs to decrease gradually.


Conclusion

Riding in safely and effectively in a group can be a daunting task for new riders, so if all this sounds complicated and confusing, don’t worry! Mastering the rotating paceline and echelon takes lots of practice and the the Velocity Cycling Club spends a considerable amount of time explaining and working on these skills each year.


What to Bring

  • Helmet
  • A safe and well maintained Bike
  • Shoes, kit, etc.
  • Bell (required for Urban Rides only)
  • Extra clothing in case changing weather conditions (ie. Rain jacket, warmer gloves, hat, etc.)
  • Piece of photo ID and cash
  • Hand Pump or adequate CO2
  • 1-2 tubes
  • Multitool
  • Tire levers
  • 2 water bottles
  • Ride Food (Most riders need to consume 1 bar or equivalent per hour of riding)