This page describes some of the group riding skills that we use on our rides. This page is not a substitute for our Group Riding Class and it is strongly recommended that you take this class before you join us on any of our rides. Please see our calendar for the next class date.
That said, here are some of the important points about how we ride together:
We obey all traffic rules except the speed limit law in some cases.
We ride in staggered formation, 2 seconds behind the bike directly in front of us, 1 second behind the bike to our left or to our right. The safe riding distance is 2 seconds.
We fill gaps by moving directly ahead. We NEVER cross in front of the path of the bike behind us, except during passing.
When making a turn or passing, check your mirrors. Both of them.
This animation illustrates how we pass a car on a divided highway. You can play, stop, and restart these animations as many times as you like.
Here are some things to look out for:
a) We never take the slot occupied by the passing bike until that bike completes the pass. He might need to come back.
b) We pass as individuals after checking both mirrors and doing a head check.
c) After passing, pull far ahead of the car to keep it from slowing down and ruining the ride for your buddies behind you.
d) Always pass on the left!
Changing lanes is less tricky. Sometimes the sweep will clear the road behind to make this maneuver easier, but don't count on it. Changing lanes to the right is similar.
Taking turns in a group requires that you be skilled enough to feel comfortable negotiating and carving turns at the posted speed limit or above. We ride through the turn staggered in a group, but we don't violate the space to the side of the bike in front of us, in the event they need to do an emergency maneuver.
If you've taken a Team Oregon class (if you haven't, you really should) you may have learned the OUT - IN - OUT rule demonstrated in the animation below:
The white lines in front of the bike show the moving straight line that is available to you through the turn if you need to straighten up and stop suddenly. You always stop straight up, with your handlebars square, to take advantage of the tires' maximum traction. Straighten up first - then slow down. Notice how these straight lines don't immediately cross the double yellow lines or the edge of the road, giving you some braking distance before you get in real trouble.
We ride similarly in a group, except that we stay in our half of the lane through the turn. The following animation demonstrates this:
However, notice that the 5th bike is following the path taken by the solo rider in the first animation. Since we don't violate the space to the side of the bike in front of us, the group was able to handle this less experienced rider, but he really should go get some practice so he can take turns like the others in the group, which brings us to the next point...
If you are a new member, new to riding, new to group riding, or are not yet skilled enough to be able to take a turn at the posted maximum safe speed limit, or higher, then PLEASE ride in the rear or the last group. This will let you and others in the group enjoy the ride more.
We ride in a group as individuals. We ride within our own skill ability & comfort zone. If you get caught in a situation where you are uncomfortable with the speed of the bikes around you, then ride at the speed that you are comfortable with. If you need to pull over and stop, then scan ahead for a safe location, signal your intent, and do so. See #10 and #11 below.
We always use our turn signals. We also use hand signals and these will be described by the road captains before the ride. They are also taught in our Group Riding class.
We NEVER leave anyone behind. That's why we have a sweep road captain. He/she will help you or help you to get help.
Check your mirrors often! If you notice the person behind you is missing, then please wait at a safe and visible location at the next turn to help that person find us. The following animation shows what we call the bread crumb (or cookie crumb) method:
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