RACE ETIQUETTE AND BUNCH RIDING TIPS (from SIRCycling)
For those taking part in their first cycle race on the road or are new to group training there are a few points to be aware of, to prevent a crash and gain the confidence of others around you:
Be predictable with all actions. Maintain a steady straight line and avoid braking or changing direction suddenly, especially if contesting a sprint. Remember that there are riders following closely behind you. To slow down gradually move out into the wind and slot back into position into the bunch.
Point and call out any road hazards ahead. These include potholes, drain grates, stray animals, car doors, parked cars, broken bottles etc.
Don't overlap wheels. A slight direction change or a gust of wind could cause a touch of wheels.
Pedal down hill while you are at the front of a bunch. Cyclists dislike having to ride constantly under brakes.
Stay to the left when in front to allow room for others to pass safely on your right, particularly in traffic. Pass other riders on their right hand side when ever possible.
Be smooth with turns at the front of a group. Avoid surges unless trying to break from the bunch. A group will travel faster when turns are completed smoothly.
Dont leave gaps when following wheels. Cyclists save about 30% of their energy at high speed by following a wheel. Whenever a gap is left riding is so much more difficult. Also, riders behind you will become annoyed and ride around you, especially if the bunch is working together to break away or catch a break away group.
When climbing hills avoid following a wheel too closely. Many riders lose their momentum when rising out of the seat on a hill which can cause sudden deceleration. This can catch a rider who is following too closely, resulting in a fall from touching wheels.
Don't panic if contact is made with other riders. Try to stay relaxed in the upper body to absorb any bumps. Contact is part of cycle racing in close bunches and is quite safe provided riders do not panic, brake or change direction suddenly.
BUNCH ETIQUETTE AND RIDING TIPS II
Riding in a bunch or "peleton" can be the most enjoyable experience, camaraderie and conversation with new or old friends and all the while traveling faster than you would normally ride along by yourself at the same heart rate. However, bunch riding can also be a huge pain if people in the group don't understand a few basic rules. Some of them are:-
NO HALF WHEELING
This is the very annoying symptom usually of somebody who is a bit nervous and excited. You finally get to the front and the guy next to you speeds up until his wheel is about half a wheel (or more) in front of yours. Not wanting the rest of the group to end up not being next to each other in their pairs, (or not wanting the other guy to think that he's better than you), you speed up to match his pace. But, he still needs to be that little bit in front so he speeds up - again, until everyone in the bunch has gone up two or three gears and 10km/hr and no-one is particularly happy. REMEDY - when you are second wheel, make sure you know the general speed of the bunch, when you go to the front, keep your speed around the same, and keep your wheels and handlebars in line with the person next to you.
POINT OUT OBSTACLES
such as holes, rocks or debris on the road, calling out "hole" etc as well as pointing is helpful in case someone is not looking at your hand when you point. It is just as important to pass the message on, not just letting those close to the front know. Another obstacle is a parked car, call out "car" and sweep your hand around your back to let people behind know. Other things to point out are runners or walkers on bike tracks and slower bikes if you are passing someone on the road.
Can be done one of two ways. Firstly and most commonly by each pair staying together until they get to the front. After having a turn on the front (generally about the same amount of time as everyone else is taking),the pair separates and moves to each side, allowing the riders behind to come through to the front. To get to the back, stop pedaling for a while to slow down, keep an eye out for the end of the bunch and fall back into line there. It is safer for everyone if you get to the back as quickly as possible as the group is effectively riding 4 abreast until those two riders are back in. The other, safer way is for the whole group to move in a circular motion through the bunch. One side (say the left) moves forward, when you get to the front, halfway through your turn, move across to the right (tell the person next to you!) you will then be required to move back to second wheel when the person on your left is ready to move over. This way is definitely safer in traffic as the bunch is never more than two abreast and is also more social as you get to ride next to different people.
If you are on a training program where you are required to do intervals, always do them from the back of the bunch. Tell the people around you what you are doing and move out of the line safely, then go your hardest! When you are finished, slow down, and get back into the bunch where you were if there is still a gap or go to the very back.
DON'T LEAVE GAPS
If you are in the bunch and there is no-one beside the person in front of you , you should move into that gap (otherwise you will be getting less wind-break than everyone else). Conversely, if you are that person and no-one moves into that gap beside you, you should move to the back of the bunch, the next pair to roll off will come back and one of those riders will fall in beside you.
HOLD YOUR WHEEL
An appropriate gap between your front wheel and the person in front is around 50cm. Keep your hands close to the brakes in case of sudden slowing. Sometimes people who are not used to riding in a bunch will feel too nervous at this close range - riding on the right side is generally less nerve-racking for such people as they feel less hemmed in. Watching "through" the wheel in front of you to one or two riders ahead will help you hold a smooth, straight line.
OBEY THE ROAD RULES
Especially at traffic lights - if you are on the front, and the lights turn orange, they will definitely be red by the time the back of the bunch goes through the intersection and you will be endangering the lives of others if you run it.
CALL OUT TRAFFIC AT INTERSECTIONS
Generally the call will be "clear" if there is nothing coming at a turn and 'car" if there is something coming.
DON'T LEAVE PEOPLE ALONE AT THE ROADSIDE
If somebody gets a puncture or mechanical, either the whole bunch should wait with him or her and make sure they have everything for the repair and are OK. Courteous riders will wait with the person and then help them to pace back onto the bunch. Of course it will depend on the length of the ride and the distance from the destination.