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For the enjoyment and safety of all, Birdwell Wheelers Cycling Club has a set of guidelines which all members and prospective members should familiarize themselves with.

1) Obey the Highway Code

Stop at red lights and don’t ride on the pavements. Ignoring this puts you and other road users and pedestrians at danger and also gives the club and all its members a bad name.

2) Bar-to-Bar

Whenever riding in a group you should be riding 2 by 2, side by side (with only a few centimetres between you, you should not be able to fit a bus between you and rider beside you) and be perfectly handlebar to handlebar, avoid half wheeling and keep the pace steady. Keep safe, no one wants to see their club mate hurt by the side of the road.

3) It’s Not a Race

A group training ride is NOT a race. The objective is to work as a group to keep the pace as advertised. Having an advertised and understood pace will allow other riders to join in or not and they will know what to expect. Deviating vastly from the projected speed will mean the ride is too fast or too slow for the riders and this leads to discontent. If you are feeling strong do more frequent or longer turns on the front. Don’t ‘Attack’ off the front or try to show everyone how strong you are. That’s what races are for. There may be some natural splitting of the group on longer hills and this is fine, regroup again at the summit.

4) Peeling Off

When you’ve had enough at the front, agree with the rider beside you it is time to peel off and gradually move to the outside as a pair, allow the group to pull through and move to the back of the group. The pair second in line then pulls through maintaining the same effort. On occasions the group might be riding as a chain gang with the riders on the right moving marginally faster than those on the left. When the front rider on the right is fully ahead of the front rider on the left he pulls over to the left, slows marginally and the rider behind him becomes the front rider on the right. The trick is to maintain a steady pace and not to speed up when you get to the front. If you do not want to ride at the front because you are tired then do not make your way up the line. Stay at the back and allow those coming back from the front to slot in ahead of you.

5) Gaps

The aim is not to have any gaps in a group ride. If you have a gap in front fill it by riding into the space in a controlled manner, remember safety at all times, don’t sprint to fill the gaps and then slam on the brakes.

6) Obstacles and hand signals

When you see a hole in the road, try and signal this by hand and give warning to your club mates. Try and avoid last minute weaving and shouting. Safety and enjoyment for all are the objectives. Point out only those obstacles that are likely to cause a problem, (deep potholes, glass, ice to name a few), not every tiny pothole or road blemish.

7) Slowing and Adjusting Speed

This is probably the biggest crash causer on group rides. For some reason, when someone slows down ahead of them, a lot of riders jump for their brakes and yank the heck out of them, almost skidding and taking everyone down with them. You should be riding ever so slightly to the side of the rider in front of you; so when they slow down, you either stop pedalling and start to slightly overlap your front wheel with their rear wheel, or you touch the brakes gradually, once again using the ‘wheel overlap’ as a buffer zone so as not to slow down too suddenly for the riders behind you.

8) Two become one

The Highway Code says two abreast where permissible, in heavy traffic or on narrow lanes you or the lead rider may decide single file is appropriate in the interests of safety. In these circumstances the rider on the left should always go forward and the rider on the right be allowed to slot in away from the danger. Three abreast is against the law and should be avoided at all times.

9) Other road users

Be respectful and courteous to other road users, a raise of the hand in thanks rather than abuse can make everyone feel better. Winding up other road users puts yourself and your club mates at danger and also gives the club a bad name.

10) Winters

Look after your club mates and fit full length mudguards, preferably with a flap. Have lights on, even during daylight hours they can be needed in winter. Always carry spare tubes and a pump (and know how to use them).

Wear your Birdwell Wheelers Cycling Club kit with pride, stay safe on the roads and make sure others around you are safe too, look after yourself and your club mates and most of all have fun.

This video illustrates some of the above demo