Besides speed and distance, the biggest barrier for a new cyclist joining a club run is the prospect of riding in a tight-knit group, just inches from the rear wheel of the rider in front.
But while you can train solo to become fitter and faster, the only way to learn how to ride in a group is to, well, ride in a group. It takes time to learn how to confidently follow a wheel but it’s a skill worth mastering.
If it’s a new experience then let your fellow riders know at the start of the ride so they can offer a few pointers if need be – remember, we’ve all been there. Experienced members of cycling clubs have years of knowledge to draw upon and are normally more than willing to impart that wisdom.
The key to riding safely in a group is to relax and ride predictably. Most groups will ride two-abreast, unless there’s a hazard or the road narrows. Don’t become fixated on the wheel in front, don’t switch lines or brake suddenly, and while you should stay close to the rider in front to shelter from the wind, definitely don’t overlap wheels. Help the rider behind you by calling or pointing out hazards like cars and potholes.
Finally, most groups will share the workload by rotating the riders on the front. If you’re not sure how this works then ask at the start of the ride. When it’s your turn on the front, avoid accelerating and keep the pace steady.