A glimpse at the top 5 points of etiquette for new riders, to help you avoid being labelled an ‘amateur’.
From an outsider’s perspective, cycling almost certainly doesn’t appear as ordered and respected as we know it to be. And, having only been a cyclist for little over 3 years myself, the confusion and embarrassment of being uninformed is all too fresh.
You might be a beginner cyclist now, but if you know what’s good for you, you’ll soon be hooked. And, more importantly, you’ll soon learn that looking like an ‘amateur’ is to be avoided at all costs.
Cycling Etiquette for New Riders
Wave at, or at least acknowledge, every cyclist you see. Even if they don’t look friendly. Even if they think they’re too cool for etiquette. Wave (or nod). If the person you’re acknowledging fails to reciprocate, they’re either uninitiated, or a massive douche-bag.
The only occasion on which this point of etiquette needn’t be respected is if the ‘acknowledgee’ is working so hard that he or, indeed she, can’t actually see your acknowledgement. Sarcastic waves directed toward beeping drivers are also encouraged.
Should you find yourself at the front of a group, make an effort to ride as level as possible with your partner. Riding half a wheel ahead is incredibly poor form – don’t do it, even if you’re feeling strong. For one thing, it disrupts the group behind you, encouraging dangerous cross-wheeling.
There is, however, an exception. As with all club riding, applying the pressure up hill is encouraged. But don’t toy with them too long, dropping your “friends” outright is what you should be aiming for.
Don’t Move Up, Only to Glass Pedal
You’re sitting in at a comfortable 25mph. Feeling strong, you decide it’s your turn to take a pull at the front, expect you misjudged the situation. Wary of going too close to the brink of blowing up, your ease off, slowing the pace to 21mph. Now everyone hates you.
The only time glass-pedalling is acceptable is when feigning an attack, usually on a climb. Going off the front, but falling immediately back is a good way of getting inside people’s heads. But make sure you can back it up.
Always Have Excuses
Excuses are as inseparable from club riding as coffee. Before embarking on a group ride, it’s important to have a few rehearsed to account for your strange, if persistent, ‘lack of form’. Common excuses include “I’m riding my winter bike”, and “How much do you weigh again? 50kg wasn’t it?”.
If you’ve completed any sort of ride the day before, it’s vital you make everyone aware of the fact. Something along the lines of “Dude, that ride yesterday was awesome – I haven’t gone that hard all year”. Remember, the louder you proclaim your fatigue, the more efficiently you can spread the important news throughout your peers.
Don’t Wheelsuck Strangers
Not contributing to a group ride with people you know is bad enough. But sitting on the wheel of a complete stranger is basically criminal. And yet, we’ve all had the pleasure of smashing past someone, only for them to sit in your wake for as long as they can manage it. Don’t do it. Benefiting from someone else’s hard work is rude, and won’t get you any fitter.