Rules of the Road: Cycling Legend Jens Voigt’s Do’s and Don’ts of Group Rides


You’ll often see cyclists riding in a group, and especially during a race, in a peloton. And there’s a reason for this: safety. You’ll be more visible to cars, can call for help if someone crashes, and as is the case with racing, can help each other keep pace. Even when riding for fun, though, it’s safety first, and only after that is group riding a social experience.

Here are few rules to keep your group rides safe (and still enjoy them):

DO consistently pay attention to your front wheel, and make sure it’s not close to touching the wheel of the rider in front of you.

DO warn the rider behind you if you intend to pedal out of the saddle. Make a signal with your hand and say, “Raising.” Standing out of the saddle can throw your bike back a little, so this way the person behind you gets a heads up.

DON’T spit or clear your nose—without first considering the wind direction. Move out of the line to make sure you don’t spit on the rider behind you! This is about the most disgusting thing that can happen on a group ride, believe me.

DON’T half-wheel—which is when you consistently stay a half-wheel’s distance in front of the person next to you. It can cause the pace to increase to uncomfortable standards. Instead, communicate. If one rider is clearly stronger than another, discuss the matter. Perhaps the weaker rider can pull a little harder, but only for short 2-minute bursts. The stronger rider can also agree to slow down out of courtesy. There is no need to humiliate a fellow rider.

DO bring your own food, water, and a spare tire. Every rider loves to help out, but you don’t want to be the person to always “forget” your stuff. You may become less welcome in the group!

DO define your group’s objectives. If some people want a harder ride, or race simulation, make sure everyone knows before the ride begins. That way whoever decides to join the particular ride knows what he or she is in for. Likewise, if the goal of the day is simply to cover base miles for four hours, then please respect the easier pace.

DON’T take both hands off the handlebars at once—if you’re a complete beginner. The pros take off gloves and rain jackets while in the middle of the peloton, but we have years of experience and are paid professionals.

DO keep your hands close to your brakes until you feel comfortable riding with a group. That rule also applies to anyone who’s riding with new group members. You simply don’t know about their riding skills, and will want to be able to brake if necessary. I keep my hands close to the brakes all the time when I show up at social rides, and I don’t know anybody there.

DO chat, laugh, and tell old stories. Safety comes first, but the rest is what group rides are best for: chatting and laughing and making new friends.


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  • I am 51 years old and just started ride long distances with a group. We do it for the fun of it, no racing for us. Great article, I hope to see more from Jens and about cycling. Thank you Fitbit!

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