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How to ride in a bunch

El Presidente's picture

By El Presidente - Posted on 06 September 2011

The good thing about joining a cycling club is the opportunity to ride with other people of the same and varied ability. It is the opportunity to learn new skills, gauge your ability next to someone else or just catch up with mates for a coffee and chat.

While bunch rides can be motivating, challenging, thrilling, inspiring and provide security/safety in numbers (especially on Sydney roads) it can also be difficult, scary, dangerous and highly irresponsible if done incorrectly.

Cycling is about having fun and keeping fit and making sure your white socks stay as clean as possible for the entire ride, so most of us don't want to put a downer on the group when the sun is shining on a beautiful morning but sometimes, all bunches need to be kept in check.

No-one wants to crash if they can avoid it and least of all get hit by a motorist as a result of poor cycling. We cant see behind us so the least we can do is ride clean and be predictable in our behaviour on the road.

Here are a handful of Cycling's "Golden Rules" of Etiquette that all cyclist need to abide by when riding in a bunch. If you don't, you should expect to be pulled up on it.

1. Observe the road rules

Observe the road rules at all times. 2 riders must ride side by side within 1.5m from the curb. Firstly, a tight bunch looks pro AND maximises the draft effect while keeping out of the way of traffic.

2. Calling "Holes"

All riders are responsible for pointing out AND calling obstacles to warn fellow riders. Double puncturing or going over the hangers on a stray steel block of junk is NOT FUN!

3. Avoid the "Hubbard Flush"

This is when a rider from within the bunch pulls out from the line in any instance when the pace at the front slows. Riders in the bunch must avoid the temptation to roll past. In the event of the pace slowing (seemingly) unneccessarily (unless otherwise called by the front riders) - riders behind should call "pedal!" to boost the pace. Note** Front riders should always pedal on descents to avoid "Hubbard Flushes" occuring.

"Hubbard Flush" is the next step in the action of "wheel sucking" - when people at the front do all the work and the wheel suckers sit on. "Hubbard Flush" is when the "wheel suckers" get an easy roll past the bunch when the front riders tire or spin out on a descent.

Genuine over taking or attacking is exempt from being deemed "Hubbard Flushing"

4. "Hold the Wheel in Front"

All riders must "hold the wheel" in front of them (stay as close as possible directly in line - not off centre) at all times BUT NEVER overlap the wheel in front.
Sure you can't see much in front of you but riding off centre creates a flow on effect down the bunch.

Conversely, "dropping the wheel" in front creates a rubber band effect to the rider behind when you chase back on.

A gap of 20cm between your front wheel and the rear wheel of the rider in front is optimal.

More tips and tricks are detailed in the NSCC Guide to Bunch Rides & Etiquette under the club info page here. Please take the time to read it and if you see anyone who needs some guidance, please feel free to discuss the matter with them in the bunch.

The other riders will appreciate it.

Best Mountain Bike