Riding in a bunch is one of the most important skills you can learn as a cyclist. Whether you enjoy riding in a small group with a few friends, want to learn to sit in a bunch on a training ride or are interested in trying your hand at racing, learning what to do and what not to do is critical. Riding in a bunch can be the most enjoyable experience if done in the right way. However, bunch riding can also be a huge pain if people in the group don’t understand the rules. Everyone needs to know these rules for everyone’s safety.
At least one person in the group should carry a mobile phone. Ensure that mobile phone numbers are shared amongst the phone holders. A base phone number, eg the pool, should also be recorded. Radios can also be useful in larger bunch rides and on longer rides. Repair Kits Each group should have a pump and at least one spare tube for each tyre size on the ride.
For longer rides it is suggested that a small first aid kit be carried. Regrouping Groups must stay together for the duration of the ride. This may require regrouping 3 or 4 times during the ride at designated points, usually major intersections. Ensure that the group leader and sweep rider keep in contact and know where to regroup.
For longer rides it is usually necessary to carry a small amount of food to replenish fuel supplies eg jelly lollies, jelly beans, barley sugar, muesli bars or sultanas. Water should be carried and consumed on all rides.
A group should stick to its predetermined ride route. If a change is made the group leader should communicate with base and ensure all members of their group are informed Be predictable with all actions Avoid sudden braking and changes of direction. Try to maintain a steady straight line. Remember that there are riders following closely behind. To slow down, gradually move out into the wind and slot back into position in the bunch. By putting your hands on the hoods on your brakes you can ‘sit up’ and put more of your body in the wind to slow down slightly without using your brakes.
Ride safely and try to stay off the brakes. If you are inexperienced and too nervous to ride close to the wheel in front of you, stay alone at the back and practice. When the pace eases, don’t brake suddenly, instead ride to the side of the wheel in front and ease the pedalling off, then drop back on the wheel. Practice on the back and soon you will be able to move up the line with a partner.
Do not become obsessed with the rear wheel directly in front of you. Try to focus four or five riders up the line so that any ‘problem’ will not suddenly affect you. Scan the road ahead for potential problems, red lights etc, and be ready.
Especially at traffic lights and intersections – if you are on the front, and the lights turn orange, they will definitely be red by the time the back of the bunch goes through the intersection. You will endanger the lives of others if you run it.
Remember when you are on the front, you are not only responsible for yourself but everyone in the group. When you are leading the bunch, try to monitor potential problems and give plenty of warning of impending stops or changes of pace. Make sure you know where you are going.
Experienced riders should point out any mistakes made by less experienced riders. This must be done diplomatically of course, but it is important to make people aware of unsafe riding and help them learn the right behaviour. Riding in a bunch is about everyone’s safety.
Information adapted from the Southbank Bunch website