Group ride etiquette

“Car in the hole” = car in the opposite lane of a turn.

A lot of Varia users are unaware of the feature….not sure why Garmin doesn’t talk it up more. Maybe because they think it will limit sales? “ oh, Joe has one…we can just link to his”.

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Sales seems unlikely - if anything I think it would drive sales up as people realised how useful it was and wanted their own for every ride. Certainly I’ve struggled to convey to people how good the Varia is, until they try it for themselves and it suddenly clicks! Trying to show them the screen while riding alongside with a car approaching from behind never worked well for some reason…

That said I think multiple people pairing would be pretty annoying for all concerned. Lots of disconnecting and reconnecting depending how close together the group was. And my Varia quite often mistakes riders for a car when a gap forms in the group and then gets closed up - I guess multiple riders closing a gap with a significant speed differential looks enough like a car to throw it off. It’s useful for me as I’m not always aware the group has split behind me. But would be pretty confusing if you were a rider behind and showing up as a dot on your own screen!

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On my last group rides some of the riders were worried I was giving them 2 extra feet and was in the middle of the road as I passed back in the chain gang . I wasn’t, in addition to a very quick glance I had the varia on a very flat straight road telling me if it was clear or not for 250m and if not an indication of vehicle speed (red or amber and dot progression) and they are less than smooth riders, so I’d rather keep an eye on their wheel when slotting back in. Other groups I ride in all have Varia’s and understand its capabilities, these riders didn’t, perhaps I should encourage them to pair to mine, although I doubt they’d want to take that 15secs at the start :thinking:

Surely in a chaingang if you have two continuous lines you’re just moving across in front of another rider?

We usually have ours with the slower moving line on the inside, to make that easier with traffic (so the faster line is always moving up on the outside). I know if you were pro you’d alternate the rotation based on the wind, but we aren’t so we do what works best on the road…

Unless you mean more like a paceline? Where there’s one line of riders and the front rider pulls out when they’re done?

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good reason to buy a varia…

hey guys, I have this new varia you can all connect too, I’ll just chill in the back of the pack :wink:


Not this version, its one long line with the person on the front pulling off, like the paceline you describe :+1: It was until a few months ago the traditional chaingang with the two pacelines. My first clubs in Scotland were like how you describe the chaingang with the inside was slower regardless of the wind. But since I’ve moved down here 9 years ago the majority of group rides have alternated at some point or at least tried to :joy:

Just don’t tell them it works at the front of the pack too :joy:

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Yeah, we do pacelines too but normally in smaller groups. And yes you need to be aware of traffic when pulling out…

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Exactly, the quick shoulder check and constant monitoring of the Varia allows that. If its clear I can pull out that bit further keep my eye on erratic wheels and slot in smoothly without wasting energy. On occasions when its not clear I won’t pull out until I can do so (if that means an extra 10-20s on the front so-be-it, it wastes less energy than the alternative giving that erratic wheel more room lengthwise and then having to chase back on when theyve decided to sprint).

Group rides are like parties - every group ride has its own rules and standards, and no one set of expectations will describe all group rides.

Varia is certainly great at telling you when there is a car behind you but I think what most non users miss is how game changing it can be for that vast majority of your ride when its telling you there isn’t a car behind you!

It’s totally changed how I ride when riding solo. I am much more comfortable using the entire lane now that it’s so easy to know if its clear or when I have to move over. And the pavement sucks so bad on several of my routes that freedom to pick my line with confidence has totally changed my outdoor riding experience.


Agreed! Love knowing when it’s safe to just pick my lines or rotate off the front of a group without worrying that I’m about to move into the path of a car.


@cecle posted a similar story a while ago in this group, but I recently had a crash and a couple of close calls because of miscalculating the braking distance needed to come to a stop descending on my rim brakes. This has caused me to feather the brakes a lot, which I feel like the other riders in the group get annoyed with. I don’t mind chilling in the back, but I often find myself alone in between two groups. My self-conscious mentality hopes its not because the riders behind me don’t want to be near me because I may look squirrely descending. How do you get more comfortable descending in a group especially on rim brakes? Or what’s the best way to communicate this with the group?

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I’m a terrible descender, I use rim brakes too but on my gravel bike with discs I am just as bad. You can only stop as fast as your tyres anyway. My descending was just as bad and other folk good when everyone had rim brakes. IMO it’s not really about the brakes but more to do with confidence/skill. Practice makes it better but I just descend with what I am comfortable at, there’s usually someone worse anyway. Observing riders going through the downhill bend immediately in front of me usually boosts my confidence too. What helps I am usually at the front or near it before the descent so when I naturally fall back, it’s not too much of an effort to get back on at the bottom.

I think it depends a lot how familiar you are with both the group and the roads. I’m much more comfortable following wheels closely on a descent if I know the rider(s) in front have similar descending skills and risk appetite to me, and/or if it’s a descent I know well enough to form my own view on whether the way they’re riding it is appropriate. If I’m in a group with people I know descend better than me or who take more risks than I’m comfortable with, then I do my best to get out of the way so I’m not holding them up. Sounds like you’re already doing that. If you think the second group might be steering clear of your wheel then just drop right to the back a few times at the start of a descent and see what kind of pace they’re descending at without you. I suspect they’re probably just slower descenders than you and you have nothing to worry about. Worst case scenario - if it turns out that you’re the problem and with you at the back the rest of the group all sticks together then at least you know where you stand and can work on it!

Worst thing you can do descending in a group IMO is to end up feeling pressured to go faster than you’re comfortable with. Either chasing wheels or overdoing it on the front because you’re self-conscious about holding people up and end up taking unnecessary risks. I’ve had this in the past - had switched from triathlons to just cycling a few years back and had just started riding with a group of racers who were a lot more experienced than me, so I was generally trying to hang back on descents and follow wheels, found myself on the front on one and pushed myself right to the limits of my descending ability in the misplaced belief that I would annoy the group otherwise. Got to the bottom having slightly scared myself but relieved that nobody had felt the need to come past me. Only to realise that I’d dropped half the group and a couple of the riders who had followed me told me to calm it down and not take so many risks on a training ride.


Same when following wheels on trails…better to leave a gap and be confident railing turns vs. being tense due to nervousness.

Thanks for your reply. This is helpful because I don’t see myself upgrading to disc brakes anytime soon, so practice is probably the thing I can work on. I am a new member to this group but they are all really nice people who ride every single day with each other. I think my plan is going to be like what you do and float to the back on the descents. I usually join on the hill ride which involves riding to the top and then riding back down as a group. I will position myself towards the back before the descent.

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Thanks. I like this plan of sticking the back on the descents and watching what the others do. I’m definitely not the type of rider to push boundaries with this group because these riders ride with each other almost every day and the last thing I want to do is be that one rider who shows up once a week and messes with the vibe. The weather is starting to get colder here in the Northeast, so I don’t know how often I will be joining these rides for much longer, but I really appreciate your insight. Its like that age-old saying that nobody is paying attention as much as you are (something like that lol).

Completely agree - makes a huge positive difference :+1:t2:

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