But bear in mind that most of these guys have worked their way up through the various racing licences and ridden competitively since they were kids. Here are some tips for riding safely if you’re new to group riding…
Have a chat
Get to know your fellow riders – completing a route safely is dependent on trust, predictability, and communication. Even experienced riders will start at the back of a new group to observe and learn the dynamics of each group of riders.
Look past the wheel ahead
The closer to the cyclist ahead, the more benefit you’ll get from their slipstream, and by filling in the lead cyclists eddying air you’ll reduce their drag too. But keep your eyes on the road ahead rather than the leader’s back wheel, and following their line will make it easier to stay close.
No sudden braking
As close you are to the person ahead of you, there’s likely to be someone behind you. Even if you thought you were the last person in the peloton, a lone cyclist may have decided to join the group, and before he’s had the chance to introduce himself you’ve braked to avoid an obstacle. You’re now lying in the road with a random stranger on top of you.
Keep your position on the road relative to the peloton. When you need to move to the front, other cyclists will move out your way. If you need to drop back, you may do so after checking to see if the path is clear – if not, announce your intention and where you’re looking to move to.
Everyone should follow the above advice but, on a brisk Sunday morning ride club century, it only takes a moment’s loss of concentration for a cyclist to brake suddenly – or notice a pothole far too late. Give your fellow riders enough space so that they’re relaxed enough to stay focussed.
Unlearn bad habits
There are lots of phenomena that affect your bike’s speed that you don’t really notice when riding on your own – and they can really annoy your fellow riders if you keep doing them. For example, your bike loses momentum suddenly when you get out your saddle. You can prevent this by a burst of high cadence as you get out the saddle.
If you’re on point, don’t forget to point
Finally, be kind to your fellow riders. Point down to the left or right if you notice an obstacle in the road. Every rider down the peloton is expected to do the same – it’s courteous, and critical for road safety.
What other tips can you share with riders eager to join a peloton?