Tip #1 – Communications
In a group ride there are all kinds of communications. There is the normal get acquainted or reacquainted chatter between riders, there is the occasional conversation with drivers at red traffic lights and then there is the essential and necessary exchange of information between riders about anything from road conditions to traffic, etc. The latter being the most important and crucial for a safe group-ride.
The first thing to consider is that given the road noise, the wind noise and the group ride chatter, it is important to ensure that all messages are communicated all throughout the group. So if the person in the back says something, members should repeat the message and ensure that it has been relayed all the way to the front of the group.
Even if the messages are annunciated clearly and projected strongly, it is advisable to use similar language to ensure that all in the group can comprehend the message to react to it in a timely fashion. In group rides, the following is a list of most commonly used terminology:
Hole – A hole, crater or missing chunk of the road that can possibly cause a flat if not cleared (Don’t forget to point to it)
Crack – A bridge expansion joint, or a crack in the direction of the ride (Don’t forget to point to it) that can potentially gobble up your wheel and send you head first over the bars
Slowing – When approaching a traffic light or slow traffic (You can also use this if you are totally out of gas and cannot maintain the group pace any longer, typically followed by yelling “gap”)
Gap – When there is an unrecoverable distance between a rider and the back of the group. In most cases that individual is either gasping for air or is embarrassed to announce their predicament. So, it is usually the responsibility of the last person in the group to recognize that a rider has lost contact with the group and yell “gap” to slow the group down especially in a no-drop ride.
All On – When the “gapped” rider has recovered
Right Turn – When turning right
Left Turn – When turning Left
Stopping – When approaching a stop sign or red light
Rolling – When starting from a stopped position to ensure that everyone is awake and moving
Green Up – Used when the light turns green after the group has stopped at a red light. This will ensure that everyone stops their traffic light chatter and move with the group
Single Up – This is used when for variety of reasons such as passing a slower rider, or for road/traffic condition the group is required to ride in single file
On Your Left- This is usually yelled out when passing a slower rider and commonly followed by a prayer that they are not riding with their ear-buds on and can actually hear you
Gravel – Used when approaching a patch of gravel and it is usually followed by “slowing”. Gravel is not our friend and can make us crash or give us flat tires
Turtles – Typically refer to speed pumps
Mechanical – Indication that one of the group members has a mechanical issue such as flat tire
Rider(s) Down – Everyone’s least favorite and indicative of an accident. This is almost always followed by “Is my bike ok?”
Car (up, back left, right)- When there is a car approaching from one of those directions
Car Passing – When a car passing on the left of the group, especially important in two a lane road
Expletives – Never used in group rides except for very rare occasions at an overly aggressive driver that is using their car as a weapon against the group or one its members
Pace Line – usually followed by clockwise or counterclockwise, this is typically used in more advance rides to start an active rotating pace line
STCC Members can get a more complete list of "on the ride communications" in our Group Riding Etiquette post!
Please feel free to comment back with any additions and the peanut gallery (JW) better keep it civil