Group Cycling Guide

In general, a group ride involves multiple cyclists who travel together cooperatively. This covers anything from fast-paced races to easy-going coffee outings and everything in between.

The essence of a group ride is drafting – with one cyclist leading the group and pedalling against the wind, and the remaining cyclists lying in their air pressure, bringing down drag by up to fifty per cent.

A team of cyclists can conserve a great deal of power by alternating who pedals in the lead and who follows behind.

It is similar to how geese fly in a line when they move to different locations and since having to battle against wind resistance takes up the majority of a biker’s power (up to 95% at maximum speeds) it is an exceptionally successful and productive approach for biking.

The obvious benefit of travelling with other people carries potential dangers as well. It can be difficult to spot potential dangers ahead when riders are bunched up together, and any blunders or mishaps made by those in the lead can put people farther back in danger.

It is necessary to have an understanding of proper manners and abilities to have a secure group cycling experience.

Cycling Group Ride Types

Group rides can be divided into two main categories.

In a no-drop ride, the group pauses during the journey to let any slower riders catch up, making sure nobody gets left behind.

The speed of the group, when they come back together, can be slow and relaxed or swift, and the speed will be clear to everyone before the start of the activity.

Rides without any chance of getting left behind are ideal for people new to the activity, and advanced riders can use them as a stress-free way to work on their endurance and engage with other people. Including a break at a coffee shop is a popular type of cycling excursion.

Rides in which the pace rapidly accelerates and that are not as lenient are more quickly completed, leaving those who cannot keep with the speed to fend for themselves. Drop rides usually have a predefined pattern compared to non-drop rides.

One may maintain a consistently quick rate or it could be a make-believe competition with certain spots to sprint and finish lines. Many of these competitive races are humorously referred to as “world championships.”

It doesn’t matter if riders drop or stay together, the majority of group rides start at an agreed-upon spot at a specific time and follow a route of which all of the participants are aware.

Some large group rides divide into various cohorts of varying paces to provide an opportunity for everyone to participate. A lot of longer rides in groups will involve pauses to purchase items or top up on water, which could be planned out before the ride or just agreed upon while the ride is going on.

Basic Cycling Group Ride Skills and Etiquette

Pacelines and Drafting

The fundamental factor of the collective cycle is the paceline, in which the rider in the lead reduces air resistance and a string of riders behind them take advantage of the slipstream. Formations of bikers riding on open roads commonly follow a single or double-file line. In races on roads that are not open to the public, a bigger and disorderly crowd referred to as a peloton is prevalent.

Leading the group of cyclists by taking the front position is referred to as pulling. Typically, you take a turn at the front of the paceline, lasting from a few seconds to several minutes, before the succeeding person in the group steps up to their turn.

Once you have finished taking your turn at the front, you go to one side and follow the group of cyclists, eventually rejoining the line behind the last person.

A special type of ride called a rotating paceline, or what is sometimes called “through-and-off” in certain locations, can be used for extremely rapid rides. In a rotating paceline, after you reach the front of the bunch, you quickly peel off and go back to the end of the pack, allowing the process to be repeated.

This creates a perpetual flow in which riders are riding in the airflow of one another both when advancing to the top and when stepping back to the end of the group.

This style of riding is difficult to keep up with and requires the riders to be mindful of the speed at which they are going, however, it has been seen as a great way for experienced cyclists to maintain a swift velocity.

Paceline’s dos and don’ts

  • Do: ride smoothly and predictably
  • Don’t: swerve, surge, or brake suddenly.
  • Do: ride only as close to the wheel in front of you as you feel comfortable and safe doing
  • Don’t: overlap your wheel with the wheel ahead of you.
  • Do: Stay attentive and keep your hands where you can access the brakes if needed.
  • Don’t: use aero bars or positions that compromise control.


When you transition from riding in the draft and make your way to the front of the cycling line, it is your responsibility to do the pedalling and take a turn pulling the group. Lugging behind is more laborious than stowing in the company, in particular when running at high speeds or facing a headwind.

Nevertheless, it is easy to overestimate how much effort needs to be put in and thus unintentionally speed up the group’s pace as a consequence. It is annoying to other riders and can make everyone tire out quickly, so maintain a steady pace and it will benefit the entire group.

Resist the temptation to take up the front spot when the person ahead of you moves away. Do not accelerate too quickly; instead, just increase your exertion slightly to maintain your velocity and let the biker who is departing the rotation slow down on their own.

Maintain your speed while at the front and avoid any abrupt accelerations or decelerations.

Do not give in to the urge to exert more energy while going up hills; remain consistent in your effort, but your speed may be reduced. This assists in keeping the group as one and results in a better overall experience.

Peeling Off/ Rotating

When you’re done yanking, it’s an ideal opportunity to turn or “strip away” and go back to the back of the pack.

In group cycles, it is customary to initiate pulling off of the line by either a hand gesture or an elbow jerk to let the following person know that you are about to leave. Next, slowly draw over to the edge before slowing down slightly, thus causing you to gradually move back to the group in the line of cyclists.

Be careful not to veer too far away from the group when you separate from the front. You may find yourself amid oncoming traffic when you stray too far to the side, and will also no longer be able to take advantage of the slipstream.

It’s beneficial to remain in the vicinity of other cyclists, as this allows you to benefit from the aerodynamic benefits of the whole group and simplify rejoining the back of the pack.

Speed up a bit once you’ve reached the end of the group of riders and get back in the slipstream when they pass.

In a single-file line, the cyclists usually move inward towards the middle of the street. In double-file pacelines, it is typical for both riders in the front to come off simultaneously, with the individual on the left veering to the left and the one on the right swerving to the right.

The methods utilized may be altered depending on regional beliefs or the wind’s direction, thus it is advised to respect the particular group you are riding with’s way of doing things. Constantly be sure to look out for cars and other potential dangers on the road before you depart.

Cornering and Descending in a Group

The way to successfully manoeuvre in corners is to copy the rider ahead of you in terms of their line and pace. Before taking the turn, use your brakes, then make a graceful entrance and follow the shape of the curve while you’re going through it.

Those in the back of the group have to press down on their brakes with more force before the bend compared to the cyclists at the start, and this difference in timing is named the “accordion effect.”

Therefore, it is a good idea to change to an easier speed before making the corner so you can pick up the pace rapidly again afterwards.

When the group comes across a downward slope, the bikers towards the back of the group will move faster than those at the front, so it is sensible for the cyclist leading the pack to keep pedalling as much as they are able.

The most sensible approach when dealing with steep downhills is to exercise caution. It’s not necessary to crowd together and it would be wiser to keep a safe distance from other cyclists when moving quickly than to be dangerously close to them.

Once the group arrives at the bottom of the incline, the cyclists in the paceline will find that their momentum has brought them back together again.

Cycling Training Plan

To begin your cycling journey, it is wise to go at a pace that feels comfortable. This 8-week program is designed to help you transition from being a novice to a more intermediate rider, ending with the ability to go on a 10-mile ride.

In our scheme, you will ride your bike three days during the week with one of the Saturdays or Sundays being the longest ride, unless you have a job on the weekends.

Before beginning, choose which days are optimal for biking (it is recommended that one of them be a weekend day) and alternate them. We recommend Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

You are welcome to add more information to the given timeframe if you think you can do so. This plan is aimed at complete beginners. If you feel like you can bike for a lengthier time, do so, but make sure that the time intervals stay in sync with the schedule.

  1. The first two weeks are about getting to grips with cycling, so start off with a couple of 10-minute cycles on the first two outings, finishing with a 20-minute cycle on the weekend.
  2. Repeat Week 1.
  3. Cycle for 15 to 20 minutes for your first two allocated cycle days. Cycle for 30 minutes on the weekend.
  4. For this week, we’re going to remove one of the days, and cycle for longer on the remaining two days. We would recommend cycling for 25 minutes on Wednesday, and 35 minutes on the weekend.
  5. Back to three times a week again. Cycle for 30 minutes on your first two days, with a 45-minute cycle on the weekend.
  6. Repeat Week 5.
  7. Cycle for 30 minutes on your first day, reduce it to 20 for your second and finish the week with a 60-minute cycle on the weekend.
  8. For the final week, you’re going to add an extra day of cycling. Ride for 45 minutes on your first day. Cycle for an hour on your second day, and follow that with a 20-minute ride the very next day (Friday, if you’re using our recommended dates). For your last cycle of the plan, ride for 10 miles.

And there you have it. In eight weeks, you will be able to go from having no bike experience to completing a 10-mile bike ride with ease using this program.

The route you pick is up to you. For those who are brand new to biking, we suggest remaining on a relatively level course. If you want to stretch yourself, select a path that has some inclines.

If you’re near your job and trying to save money on transport by using a bike, this approach can be suitable.

To give you an impression of the length and rate of travel, a newbie cyclist has a velocity of approximately 12 mph. For the initial period, you can expect to walk up to a maximum of two miles. At the end of two months, the 10-mile journey should not seem intimidating at all.

Cycling Tips

There are a few things that aren’t immediately obvious to cycling novices, so here are a few top tips to note before you get started:

  • Keep your tyres pumped up. This will make cycling easier and reduce your chances of getting a puncture. 
  • As mentioned before, keeping a puncture repair kit (inner tube, Allen key, tyre levers and pump) on you at all times is highly recommended. 
  • Invest in some eyewear. They will protect your eyes from bugs, rain, stones and glare. You’ll be surprised at how many bugs will get in your eyes if you don’t protect them. 
  • Buy, and use, mudguards – especially when cycling to work. 
  • For long bike rides, make sure you keep yourself fuelled and hydrated. Energy bars, bits of cake, sweets and bananas – these are all great sources of energy for long rides and will keep you feeling energised. 

Road Cycling Tips for Beginners

When one is dealing with bicycle riding on roads, there are some other factors to think about and advice that will turn out to be handy.

  • If you’re going to get into road cycling, you should consider wearing a helmet. You’ll clock at much faster speeds than on most other types of bikes and you’ll be sharing the road with vehicles. Over half of all cycling fatalities are due to head injuries. 
  • Ensure you’ve chosen the right riding position. It’ll make a big difference to how comfortable you are and consequently, how long you can ride. 
  • If you’re using clip pedals, try to get into the habit of unclipping early and with the same foot first every time. Clip pedals will increase your power and speed; they just take some getting used to. 
  • If cycling in a group, learn how to ride? as a group. You’ll use your energy more efficiently and as a result can go on longer, faster rides. The social aspect will also motivate you to cycle more often. 
  • When taking corners, always put your outside pedal in the lowest position and apply downward pressure. This will help your bike grip the road. 
  • Make sure you’re up to speed with your highway code knowledge. You’ll also benefit from reading up more on the techniques of road positioning. 


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