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HomeGroup riding

Group riding

General principles of group riding include:
  • Group takes precedence.
  • Know group objectives.
  • Know group etiquette.
  • Observe, listen, emulate.
  • Communicate.
  • Be predictable.
  • Be prepared to contribute.
Applying these principles, here are tactics for group riding:

Group takes precedence

  • The safety and well-being of the group is paramount. Either adhere to all of the group’s practices or don’t ride with the group.
  • Don’t do anything that may jeopardize anyone in the group.
  • The head of the group has responsibility: maintain speed and smoothness; call out hazards; anticipate problems; and to make moves that everyone can follow safely.

Know group objectives

  • If new to the group, ask others before the ride what to expect with the group.
  • Ask about length, route and speed of the ride.
  • Ask whether it’s a rotating paceline or a more causal changing of the lead.

Know group etiquette

  • Ask about group hand and voice signals: flick of an elbow to come off the lead or a pat on the hip? Calling out or signaling turns, or both?
  • Single or double pacelines?

Observe, listen, emulate

  • First ride with a group isn’t the time to show how strong you are.
  • At first, ride off the back to watch how the group operates.
  • Listen to the signals and plan to emulate them when needed.


  • Point out potholes, gravel, water, glass, road kill and anything else that could be a hazard. If the hazard is a major one—call it out, too.
  • Let other riders know when you’re dropping off or going to the back to recover.
  • When crossing an intersecting street that has no stop sign, call out “Clear.” If you suddenly see a vehicle as you go through, call “Car left” or “Car right.” Wait for everyone to re-group.
  • Let the group know of other hazards, such as “Walker (or rider or car) up” or when an obstacle is ahead.
  • “Car back” lets everyone know that a car is behind the group.
  • Call out a lowering in speed with “Stopping” or “Slowing.”

Be predictable

  • Learn to “soft pedal” to maintain a constant speed. Decreasing the pressure with which you’re turning the crank can mitigate slight changes in pace without exacerbating them by braking.
  • Avoid using your brakes in a tight group.
  • Don’t pull out of group without announcing your intention or pointing where you want to go.
  • Don’t stare at the wheel in front of you. Look ahead one or two riders. When they slow down, soft pedal.
  • Don’t overlap wheels with rider in front as it could cause an accident if front rider has to move laterally suddenly.
  • Keep your line through corners.
  • If on the front, don’t rapidly accelerate out of corners or after stops. Keep group together.

Be prepared to contribute

  • Large groups do not require everyone to pull.  In small groups, be prepared to take at least a short turn at the front (10-20 seconds).
  • Don’t create gaps.  If you can’t maintain the pace, move to the left and out of the paceline, then rotate to the back of the group.
  • When joining a moving group, come in from the left, match speed and signal if desired to enter paceline or move to the back of the group.
  • Maintain safe distance from rider in front but avoid accelerating to close a gap and then slowing down. This causes an “accordion” effect behind you. Attempt to ride a steady pace.
  • Don’t ask to “get in” the middle of a rotating paceline; it creates gaps, confusion, anxiety. Go to the back of the line and rotate through.
  • Keep fingers on the brake levers so you can stop quickly if necessary.

St. Petersburg Bicycle Club, Inc.

PO Box 76023

St. Petersburg, FL 33734


The St. Petersburg Bicycle Club, Inc. (SPBC) is a non-profit, social and recreational club that exists to promote safe, satisfying bicycling opportunities to both club members and the general public of all ages and skill levels, through planned activities and events.

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