Group ride etiquette

Hi all,

I just started group riding a couple weeks ago. These are relatively fast rides with a regroup after a climb.

I have some questions for those who ride groups regularly:

  • How aggressive should you be riding in the group? I had several riders fight me for drafts at various times. I didn’t want to cause a crash so I gave up the wheels. Is it OK to fight for drafts?
  • Is there a “written in stone” rule about crossing double yellow lines? We had a strong crosswind on one of the rides and the group echeloned out into oncoming traffic. A few riders, including myself, got dropped because we didn’t want to cross the double yellow.
  • Why is it dangerous to hammer on slight descents? I can understand steep descents being neutralized for safety, but 1% or 2% shouldn’t be an issue. I was berated by a senior member of the group for opening a gap on a slight downgrade which caused people to chase.

I’ve only been on a handful of group rides previously, and those were leisure/social pace. These are the first fast rides I’ve been on so I’m a total noob on what is OK and not OK. Thanks for any advice.

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This doesn’t sound like a particularly social group ride. I’ve only had to fight for a draft during a race and I’ve never echeloned out over to the other side of the road even during a race.

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Depends on the group. If it’s a ‘racey’ ride… then fight for wheels but don’t crash anyone out. If it’s a double column social ride… don’t be a douche.

Depends on the ride and the route. If it’s an aggressive ride and it is a low traffic road with good sight lines echelons will often end up going into the other lane. The real answer is fight for the wheels so you’re not on the back of the echelon if you don’t want to deal with that.

I live in Texas, so don’t have an opinion on this. Generally it’s a waste of time to attack on the downhills because the big guys will just roll up on you with momentum 5s after it goes flat again.

tldr; every group has their own culture. If you don’t like it find a different group.

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yeah, from what your wrote, doesn’t sound like a super fun time. The crossing double yellow line is bonkers. a “hey - go close that gap!” in an encouraging way is an OK way to help you know the preferences. Getting berated isn’t.

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Or just straight up ask the folks you’re riding with what the rules of the game are…

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The answer to your first two questions will depend on the group. There are broad statements about etiquette that mostly will hold true - but all groups are different and the dynamics will be different in all of them.

Ultimately - if you aren’t comfortable with the rules/traditions of a given group ride you should stop attending.

Now, having said that - I ride both with groups where the behavior you describe would be way out of line and considered standard fare. You just need to know what you’re signing up for and make your own decisions on safety

As for your third question - I don’t know, that doesn’t make a lick of sense to me either. Perhaps it was less to do with the descent and more to do with road conditions or something? Most of the seriously aggressive/competitive groups I’m aware of have general rules about where and when things get serious (i.e. - way out is conversational, turn X everything is fare game) but they don’t include drawing the line at specific gradients (either up or down)

There’s often not a rule book. Just what people do. People that do things in that group that other people in that group don’t like get un-invited.

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I should clarify that it wasn’t everyone, certainly. It was actually pretty social until we got out of town into the countryside. I’m fine going fast and I’m learning how to pace line, but it caught me off guard when some riders tried to push me out of someone else’s draft.

Thanks. It’s a “racey” ride for sure so I’m assuming anything goes then, short of crashing someone out. Definitely not a low-traffic road that we echeloned out on, lots of double-stacked trailer tractors and construction vehicles. I am that big guy that uses momentum on the downhill, so was I chastised because I can go faster then the lighter guys on the downhills? But they can drop me on the uphills.

Doesn’t sound like a “group ride” at all, sounds like a race simulation. We have a local “Thursday night crit practice” and “Tuesday Night World Championship” that sound like this ride, but those are clearly race simulations.

I wouldn’t ride with that group.

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So it actually was super fun :smiley: . I actually really like the fast pace of the ride, I’ve never been able to hit 30+mph on the road by myself. I just want to make sure I’m riding correctly with the group, like if it’s ok to fight someone for a wheel then I’ll do that.

personal opinion, but my feeling has always been thatif you are new to a group and have not established yourself yet, you defer to senior members of the group. It is a group ride, not a race. So let the other guy have the wheel, slot in behind him and keep doing the work. Before long, you’ll be one of the guys who will be deferred to.

If you consider traffic laws “written in stone”, then yeah…

seriously, there is never a need to cross a double yellow on a group ride…and it will only flag you as a guy to stay away from. See point #1 above.

Dangerous? No. “Unwelcome” perhaps? Depends on the group. At the risk of returning again to my first point, learn the ins & outs of the ride, earn your stripes and then you’ll be less likely to be called out. If someone new starts showing up on an established grooup ride and starts going against the “norms” of the group, it is going to ruffle feathers. Don’t be that guy…or find another group that won’t care.

There is a HUGE difference between “social rides” and fast-paced group rides. Know that some practices will be acceptable on one type of ride and not the other (and vice versa).

Sit in, take your pulls, be a good guy, chat up the established riders and have fun. Pretty simple rules, really.

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Haha, there were some discussions after the ride, especially about the echeloning. Those that got dropped were furious about how dangerous the group was acting, the rest of the group just shrugged and said it’s part of road riding.

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I’m actually OK with riding aggressively as long as that’s what is expected in group rides. I’ve been on leisure-paced social rides and love them too, but those rides clearly have a ride leader and well-defined rules. This ride was fast (which was great) but with no defined leader and no consensus on what is OK.

I guess I’m just trying to bring order to chaos?

I’d just ask around- I think most people appreciate will appreciate you making the effort to be considerate of others and be open to improvement, as well as potentially being more forgiving of any potential rookie mistakes. (Not saying that’s the case, but I certainly made some on my first few group rides and people were pretty understanding that I was just learning- rather than just being an asshole- despite the dynamic being more aggressive.)

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Again, see above…not your job to do that. If it is an established ride, then follow their rules / etiquette. If you don’t like their rules, just find another group.

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Wow. Echeloning across a double yellow line is “just part of road riding”, but going fast on a 1-2% descent gets you yelled at for being dangerous.
Sounds like a group to not pick up habits from :slight_smile:

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Personal opinion only for group rides that I participate in:

I don’t “fight” for wheels if it’s me and another rider trying to get on someone else’s wheel, since I’m fine with just getting the draft from someone. But I don’t let riders push in on me and if I am clearly on someone’s wheel and not under any duress, I try to avoid any issues and say something like “I’m going to pull through soon” to discourage someone from trying. If a person still wants to push it, I start verbalizing pretty loudly in advance of any contact like “find another wheel”.

Most riders stupid enough to try and bump a stranger on a public group rides are usually weaker riders and can be verbally berated into backing off.

Don’t cross the double yellow unless you have a large life insurance policy. If you do, it’s your life, do what you want. The courts and public opinion protect motorists in situations even where there is clear fault on the drivers behalf, and there is going to be no recourse for you if you cross the double yellow and get injured.

If there is a group ride that regularly crosses double yellow, find a different group.

Depending on the course, the speeds can get very high if there is a chase that happens on a slight downgrade. You can go from 22-24mph to 30-35mph which creates much larger braking distances and ratchets the overall risk to the group substantially. In these instances, defer to the more experienced riders or ride leaders.

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If the group is going over the yellow, start a 2nd echelon. Issue is if no one comes with you and rotates in your line, you will be dropped.

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Thanks for the advice. Yes I think I’m conflating group rides with “race pace” rides. This is definitely more of a race pace ride than a group ride.