Top tips: Cycling in groups

Fundraising Product Manager James Wright manages cycling events at Marie Curie. As RideLondon and its 100 miles approaches, he shares his top tips for cycling safely in a group.

RideLondon has become a must-do event for all cycle lovers and those who want to take on a tough cycling challenges. The event has become so popular that you’ll most likely be riding alongside other cyclists the majority of the route. Bearing this in mind, these tips will help you and your fellow riders get back to The Mall in one piece.

It's worth knowing that you’ll cover long distances much faster in a group, so actively try and stick to a group which moves at your pace. Tucking in behind other riders, known as drafting, can save you up to 30% of effort. The unwritten rule is that everyone takes their turn on the front, pulling the rest of the group like the wind-battered hero you are. When it's your turn out in front, try to maintain a steady, controlled pace and ride predictably – small changes increase as they pass down the line.

No matter how expensive, try not to stare longingly at the wheel in front. Instead use your peripheral vision and look further ahead to predict how the group will move. Highlighting potholes in the road to those following is appreciated. A point and a quick shout of ‘hole’ should cover it. It’s also a nice idea to warn riders behind if you are slowing down (by patting the dog) or by moving around an obstacle (pointing behind your back). Swinging out at the last minute might not give them time to react. 

Keeping to a maximum of two riders wide allows other groups to move around you, this also makes you look pro – a crucial element in all rides. What doesn’t look pro is a group tumbling down like dominoes, so never ride with your front wheel overlapping the rear of another rider, that’s just asking for trouble. Behind and six inches to the side is the perfect spot. Finally, make sure your bike is in good condition and you have some basic tools (inner tube, pump and levers), there would be nothing worse than carrying your bike down The Mall with everyone cheering. 

RideLondon is an amazing event, the closed roads give you a great chance to enjoy the views of London and the surrounding areas. And remember, by working together you’re more likely to beat your friends’ time around the course.

See you on The Mall!

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