11 ways to p*ss off your fellow cyclists on a group ride

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Eleven guaranteed ways to p*ss off your fellow cyclists on a group ride

Wheelsucking, over-braking and what else to avoid on the club run

As cyclists, we’d love to all get along – and most of the time we do – but we can also be a sensitive bunch, with plenty of things able to annoy us. From oblivious car drivers to poorly-surfaced roads and badly designed cycle lanes to being questioned about why and whether they shave their legs.

It’s probably no surprise then that there are plenty of things other cyclists do which irritate us, too.

Being part of a drilled group riding as one is a real joy as a cyclist, but, needless to say, a group ride is also one of the likeliest places you’ll encounter other riders, and that make for conflict.

Want to stay on the good side of your fellow riders? Don’t do any of these things… (Pic: Sirotti)

When it comes to the etiquette of riding in a group, there are so many unwritten rules it can be a little daunting at first – but that shouldn’t bet he case and with a little care, attention and know-how, a frantic, disorganised group can become a well-oiled machine.

With that in mind, here are some of the most common complaints by cyclists, about cyclists.

Wheelsucking

Wheelsucking is the term given by some cyclists to those who consistently sit on the back wheel of other riders, without contributing to the work by taking a turn on the front of the group.

In a Tour de France breakaway there are plenty of reasons why a rider might not fancy putting in a shift, but in a casual group ride there’s simply no excuse unless you’re really suffering and need to miss a turn on the front. Riding in a group is all about sharing the work, so don’t be afraid to do your bit!

Take your turn in the wind (Pic: Tinkoff-Saxo)

Going off-route

If you’re an experienced club rider then you may very well be asked to lead a group ride at some stage. This is as much an honour as it is a responsibility, so take your role seriously, research the route properly and make sure that everyone on the ride has an awesome time. No-one wants to be on a group ride when you’re following somebody who has no idea where they’re going.

“Erm, what way is it?”

Over-braking

Braking too often is a guaranteed way to peeve your ride companions, because it’s actually quite a dangerous thing to do in a group of riders. It may seem like braking a lot is a sign of caution, but when there are bikes behind you and they have to react to every variation in pace it can lead to a domino effect – with each rider behind you having to brake slightly more, reacting later and passing that back along the chain.

Snot rockets

This one is just plain gross. It would never occur to anyone to blow their nose then chuck the tissue in the face of their friend, so why launch a tiny bogey projectile in their direction while riding a bike? If you’ve never seen this in person, we’re referring to when a rider needs to clear their nostril, so places one finger on the other side of their nose and blows down hard. This’ll usually clear the blockage and restore normal airflow. The only thing we ask is that if you are going to do this, please make sure you’re at the back of the group!

If you do need to clear you nose, make sure you’re at the back of the group

Half-wheeling

Half-wheeling is when you’re supposed to be riding side-by-side with another rider, but you keep edging slightly ahead of them. This forces the other rider to catch up with you then slow down immediately, and is absolutely guaranteed to irritate your partner.

Mudguards don’t just keep you clean – they keep your fellow riders clean

Mudguards

Riding without mudguards typically gives you advantages in the weight and aerodynamic departments, but if you’re out on a ride with friends or clubmates and it’s winter (or expected to be extremely wet) you should really be using them regardless. Nobody wants to spend their Sunday morning getting pelted in the face with rain, dirt and road slime – so don’t be the one rider in the group who inflicts that on their companions.

Make sure you have enough food and water for the ride

Forgetting your packed lunch

If you’ve got a long ride planned, bring enough food and water to keep your body fuelled. Yes, someone else will probably have a spare gel or flapjack and will more than likely hand it over if you’re running low on energy – but do you really want to be that guy/girl who is known for always scrounging off others? (The answer is no, no you don’t).

Hole!

There are plenty of legitimate reasons to shout ‘Hole!’ while out on a bike ride in a group. Mainly though, it’s for alerting riders behind you that there’s a large pothole in the ground which needs to be avoided. It is not necessary however to shout every time you see a small dent in the tarmac. Nothing disrupts the peace and harmony of a group ride than a false warning about a pothole every two minutes.

Now THAT’s a pothole

Silent assassin

By the same token, a well-organised group relies on communication in order to warn your fellow riders of hazards, whether that be a pothole, approaching vehicle or gravel. If you’re at the front of the group, make sure you call out hazards to other riders, or if you’re in the middle of the group then do your bit by passing the ball back. You can find our complete guide to group riding signals and calls here.

Do your bit for the safety of the group by calling out hazards

Sunday boast

Nobody needs to hear about how this is ‘just a recovery ride’ for you, especially not when the rest of the group are absolutely blowing. If you really are one of the strongest on a given ride then don’t brag about it; be a good egg and take some long turns on the front to help everybody else out.

A group ride isn’t a race

Strava hunting

Chances are, when riding in a group, whether it’s on the club run or with a group of mates, you’ll come across a couple of hills – you’ve probably sought them out. And on those hills you might have a good old-fashioned dust-up and race to the top before re-grouping. But no-one wants the group to be torn apart on every single Strava segment, so pick your moments and try to agree in advance as to when everyone can have a blow out. If you want to go Strava hunting, do it on your own!

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