Race Etiquette

Race Etiquette and Bunch Riding Safety Tips

If you are taking part in your first cycle race, or are new to group training, there are a few points you should be aware of to avoid falls and to gain the confidence of others around you:

  1. Be predictable with all your actions. Maintain a steady straight line and avoid braking or changing direction suddenly, especially if contesting a sprint. Remember that there are riders following you closely from behind. To slow down gradually, move out into the wind and slot back into your position in the bunch.
  2. Point out and call out any road hazards ahead. These include potholes, drain grates, stray animals, opening car doors, parked cars, etc.
  3. Don't overlap wheels. A slight direction change or gust of wind could easily cause you to touch wheels and fall.
  4. Pedal down hill when you are at the head of the bunch. Cyclists dislike having to ride constantly under brakes.
  5. Stay to the left when in front to allow room for others to pass safely on your right, particularly in traffic. Pass other riders on their right hand side whenever possible.
  6. Be smooth with your turn at the front of a group. Avoid surges unless trying to break from the bunch. A group will travel quicker when turns are completed smoothly.
  7. Avoid leaving gaps when following wheels. Cyclists save about 30% of their energy at high speed by following a wheel. Each time you leave a gap you are forcing yourself to ride alone to bridge it. Also, riders behind you will become annoyed and ride around you, especially if the bunch is working together to break away or catch a breakaway in a race.
  8. Don't panic if you bump shoulders, hands or bars with another rider. Try to stay relaxed in your upper body to absorb any bumps. This is a part of cycle racing in close bunches and is quite safe provided riders do not panic, brake or change direction.
  9. When climbing hills avoid following a wheel too closely. Many riders often lose their momentum when rising out of the saddle in a hill which can cause a sudden deceleration. This can often catch a rider who is following too closely, resulting in a fall from a wheel touch. When getting out of the saddle shift to a harder gear to avoid the bike shifting back onto other riders.
  10. If anyone has a crash during a race, the whole bunch must stop to assist in any way they can until the situation is under control. This does not include the final sprint. If anyone has a flat or a mechanical or any other problem during a training ride, the bunch should stop and wait or assist.
  11. Remember the Law - we are entitled to ride 2 abreast... never take up more of the road than is needed and never cross the middle lines, even if not marked as you risk a fine or disqualification, or worse still a serious accident. When a cycle path is provided (such as over the bridge) you should ride single file to allow traffic to get by without undue stress. Call out to the rest of the bunch when traffic is approaching.
  12. Stereo headphones should not be used in any bunch rides or races as they don’t allow you to hear what is going on around you. Mobile phones should not be used whilst riding in a bunch. This is against the law, unless you have a single hands-free earpiece. Aerobars should not be used in a bunch as they make it unsafe. If you want to use them, get out of the bunch and drop at least 10 m to the back or go off the front.
  13. There are a lot more minor points that could be mentioned here as becoming a proficient bunch rider takes time and experience to achieve. The most important point however is to be aware of others around you and respect other riders, your actions will have a direct response on their safety.