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Cycling etiquette for triathletes

Dear triathlete, here are the unwritten rules of your local group ride. From your local cyclist.

Group rides are a huge part of cycling. It’s where we meet new friends, learn new skills, socialize, build confidence and improve fitness with long rides and sprints for town signs. Riding with people can be enjoyable, but there are a lot of unwritten rules to the group ride. Especially if you’re a triathlete, who does the majority of your rides on the trainer in the aero position. When speed and egos mix, even a fun group ride can spell disaster.

Dear triathlete, here are the unwritten rules of your local group ride.

1. No tri-bikes are allowed (or clip-on aerobars)

Yes, spending time in aero is important, but if you’re out for a group ride, you should not be trying to get extra time in aero. It is dangerous, and it makes the riders around you nervous. If you have no other bike option, ride at the front or back of the pack.

2. Signal holes and debris on the road

Nothing is worse than being at the back of a group and barreling full speed into a giant pothole you didn’t see coming up. Use hand and verbal signals to point out obstacles on the road.

Related: 5 tips for spring riding

3. Don’t ride erratically

Frequently deviating from your line suddenly and without notice can make everyone riding around you very nervous. While there’s no problem changing your line to navigate the road safely, do so predictably by letting your riding companions know or try and do it preemptively, so you aren’t swerving erratically at the last minute.

4. Don’t join a ride or rider uninvited

This is a big pet-peeve for most riders, especially if you (a rider on a tri-bike) insert yourself into a local group ride uninvited.

When you meet another rider or group on the road, be courteous and ask before just latching on to the draft. Sure they may be going your pace or a little faster, so you figure riding with them will be enjoyable but just introducing yourself, saying hi and asking is the right thing to do.

Related: 8 tips for your bike tune-up

5. Obey the rules of the road

This one should be a given, but you’d be surprised to see the number of riders that will risk it all in their attempt to try to climb up the Strava leaderboard…There’s absolutely no reason you should be recklessly running red lights or flaunting the rules of the road while out for a ride. It puts you and anybody you are riding with at risk.

6. Don’t overlap wheels

This one can sneak up on you without you realizing it until you’re on the ground with some nasty road rashes.

If you are riding side-by-side with someone, ride with your handlebars aligned. Remember to check the spacing between you and the rider ahead of you.

7. Be mindful when you spit and snot rocket

There are few things grosser than riding through your riding companion’s snot. Instead of just indiscriminately aiming away from your own body, look back or move slightly out of the pace line to ensure you don’t hit anyone you are riding with.

8. Arrive on time and prepared

There is nothing more annoying than waiting around for late riders. Come prepared with sufficient food, water, money, identification and a flat kit, so you don’t have to rely on others during the ride.

9. Don’t surge or attack the group ride

A good way to get the wrong reputation on a non-drop ride is to up the pace to the point riders are struggling and dropping off. If you are feeling strong and want to prove it don’t lift the pace to the point it blows the group apart. Instead, sit on the front and take long, steady pulls.

Thanks, and we hope to see you on the road this spring/summer.

From your local cyclist.