The etiquette of group riding

For those new to club cycling, riding in a group can sometimes seem rather daunting. When riding with a club it is usual to ride in pairs and to observe certain rules which are important for the safety and enjoyment of the ride. There are good reasons for this.......

  • Riding in pairs is more sociable, you can talk to the person next to you.
  • It makes cycling easier, the person in behind “slipstreams” you meaning less effort, particularly into a headwind.
  • It helps ensure everybody stays together so riders don’t get dropped.
  • It makes it less likely that riders at the back get caught at traffic lights and roundabouts.
  • It makes it easier for those at the front to communicate with those at the back and vice versa.


Group Riding Dos.....

If you haven’t ridden in a group before (or even if you have), listed below are some guidelines that will help you become proficient at group riding as quickly as possible.

  1. Ride directly behind the person in front, and alongside the riders on your outside and as close as conditions safety allow. The group then rides in two parallel lines. 
  2. Do not ride off the front, stay in formation. Allow more room amongst the group if the group is descending. 
  3. Uphill, go at your own speed and regroup at the hill-top.
  4. Watch for hand signals from the front and give them yourself to those behind. The hand signals are generally turning to the left/right, slowing down, obstruction to the left/right and poor road surface.
  5. Listen to commands to “single out” from back riders. Single out generally by moving into a gap in the left-hand line of riders.  Riders at the very front of the group should increase speed a little before they move over to help create road space behind them.
  6. If you are at the front or back warn the group of approaching or overtaking vehicles on narrow roads by calling out “car down” (your throat!) for vehicles ahead and “car up” (your bum!) for vehicles behind. Please avoid a generic shout of ‘car’ as this gives no indication of direction.
  7. Signal bad obstructions, holes or bumps to the rider behind by signalling with the hand or shouting “hole” or “bump” or “on your left (or right)”.
  8. Avoid sudden loud shouts that might make riders brake suddenly unless really necessary.
  9. Avoid using your brakes sharply unless really necessary. If you have to brake hard to avoid an accident, shout out loudly that you are going to do so. 
  10. If you are at the back of a group and you know there is a rider or riders “off the back” let the leaders know. If the group turns off the main road wait at the junction or roundabout to let those off the back know where to go.
  11. If you are at the back DO NOT wave cars on to overtake. A mistake could put the whole group in jeopardy so leave it up to the driver.
  12. If you are not a strong rider then try to keep as near the front of the group as possible, this will mean less effort for you and the leader as he/she will not need to worry about riders off the back.
  13. If you have a puncture yell “puncture” to make sure those in front and behind know and pull OFF the road to the side to replace the tube, the rest will wait for you.
  14. As a general safety point always ride with your hands gripping the bars not just resting on top. This ensures that if you hit a hole or a bump you do not lose control and endanger those behind.

Finally some important DON’Ts!


  • Overlap wheels, or nudge in between the wheels of the riders in front. You will come off if they move off their line.
  • Ride on tri / aero bars in packs as you will not be able to brake or steer quickly.
  • Make any sudden movements/changes in direction off your line when in the pack. You are responsible for the cyclist behind you, they are following YOUR wheel they need to trust you. 
  • Stop pedalling if you are on the front, even on downhills. The cyclists behind you will read this as you slowing and could be forced to brake and bunch up.
  • "Zone out" on the wheel in front. Keep aware of everything that is going on around you, look ahead and that way you can avoid most hazards.
  • Whip round the outside of the pack to get to the front unless in an emergency. Shout up the pack any communication. If you do need to get to the front then make sure you check in front and behind for cars, remember three abreast will push you out into oncoming traffic.
  • Pull out at junctions without looking, having heard the "Clear" call from a fellow cyclist. Check whether there is a vehicle coming yourself.