SPBC Group Riding Practices
SPBC Saturday Group Rides
Our Saturday club rides go out as groups according to speed and objective. For the most part, the faster rides are fitness rides, whereas the slowest rides are more “social” rides.
Separate from our general group riding practices, the following are our set of expectations of cyclists joining our group ride and our conventions of how we ride:
Obey the law
- Stop at red lights!
- Slow down at stop signs until you are certain you have a clear right of way. Do not assume cars already at an intersection are letting the group go through. Any vehicle arriving at a 4-way stop intersection before the group has the right of way. Give it to them!
- Do not ride more than two abreast; it is illegal.
- Use the bike lane if possible. However, if the bike lane or the combination of bike lane and travel lane are too narrow for a car and a bike to share (generally considered to be 14 feet), control the lane to let motorists know that they must move to the adjacent lane to pass the group.
Group takes precedence
- The safety and well-being of the group is paramount. Either adhere to all of the group’s practices or don’t ride with our group.
- Don’t do anything that may jeopardize anyone in the group.
- The head of the group has responsibility: maintain speed and smoothness; call out hazards; anticipate problems; and make moves that everyone can follow safely.
SPBC group objectives
- Only the 16 & 18 mph rides and the social rides are “no drop” rides. If you are in one of the other rides and get dropped, you can wait for the slower group behind you and ride with them.
- The north ride is about 23 miles. The south ride is about 17 miles.
- Speeds ranges include: 24+, 24 controlled, 22 controlled, 20 controlled, 18 controlled.
- Social rides are about 14-16 mph.
- All but the 24+ mph ride are controlled, meaning the speed shouldn’t materially exceed the given pace for any extended time.
- Rides usually are NOT rotating pacelines. Rather, leads change hands informally.
SPBC group etiquette
- Most often we use the elbow flick to indicate that the rider in front is relinquishing the lead. But some members us a fist bump on the hip and others may simply wave the next rider through.
- We signal turns by extending either the left or right hand.
- Be courteous and respectful of all other road users.
- Do not ride with no hands on the bars when in the group. If you must stretch or make two-handed adjustments, please pull out of the group then re-enter when done or wait until the group stops for a traffic light.
- No headphones in both ears.
- Do not use aero bars if you are in the group. Use them only when leading the group or off the back.
Observe, listen, emulate
- First ride with a group isn’t the time to show how strong you are.
- At first, ride off the back to watch how the group operates.
- Listen to the signals and plan to emulate them when needed.
- When leading the group and transitioning from riding single file to double file or vice versa, call out the transition, e.g., “Single Up,” or “Double up.”
- Everyone should point out potholes, gravel, water, glass, road kill and anything else that could be a hazard. If the hazard is a major one—call it out, too.
- Let other riders know when you’re dropping off or going to the back to recover.
- When crossing an intersecting street that has no stop sign, call out “Clear.” If you suddenly see a vehicle as you go through, call “Car left” or “Car right.” Wait for everyone to re-group.
- Let the group know of other hazards, such as “Walker (or rider or car) up” or when an obstacle is ahead.
- “Car back” lets everyone know that a car is behind the group.
- Call out a lowering in speed with “Stopping” or “Slowing.”
- Learn to “soft pedal” to maintain a constant speed. Decreasing the pressure with which you’re turning the crank can mitigate slight changes in pace without exacerbating them by braking.
- Avoid using your brakes in a tight group.
- Don’t pull out of group without announcing your intention or pointing where you want to go.
- Don’t stare at the wheel in front of you. Look ahead one or two riders. When they slow down, soft pedal.
- Don’t overlap wheels with rider in front as it could cause an accident if front rider has to move laterally suddenly.
- Keep your line through corners.
- If on the front, don’t rapidly accelerate out of corners or after stops.Keep group together.
Be prepared to contribute
- Large groups do not require everyone to pull. The 22 mph ride, in particular, can be quite large. We’ll often break it into two groups, but still, each can be 15+ riders. In small groups, be prepared to take at least a short turn at the front (10-20 seconds).
- Don’t create gaps. If you can’t maintain the pace, move to the left and out of the paceline, then rotate to the back of the group.
- Maintain safe distance from rider in front and avoid accelerating to close a gap and then slowing down. This causes an “accordion” effect behind you. Attempt to ride a steady pace. Learn to soft pedal!
- Don’t ask to “get in” the middle of a paceline; it creates gaps, confusion, anxiety. Go to the back of the line and rotate through. An exception is if a particular rider is struggling; he may ask you to move in front of him.
- If you are struggling, we encourage you to either go to the back of the group or drop out and wait for the next group behind you rather than continually cause gaps. It isn’t fair to those behind you.
- Keep fingers on the brake levers so you can stop quickly if necessary.
St. Petersburg Bicycle Club, Inc.
PO Box 76023
St. Petersburg, FL 33734
The St. Petersburg Bicycle Club, Inc. (SPBC) is a non-profit, social and recreational club that exists to promote safe, satisfying bicycling opportunities to both club members and the general public of all ages and skill levels, through planned activities and events.
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