Cycling in a pack is a great way of taking a little bit of pressure off on long rides. Drafting off each other will help to conserve your energy levels and makes the ride a whole lot more social too! However, sitting on a rider’s wheel, with your front tyre just inches from their back tyre takes a little bit of practice and can often be a bit daunting at first. But fear not, with a little bit of practice you’ll be riding confidently in the pack in no time.
Here are some top tips for riding in a pack that will definitely heighten your chances of survival (just kidding, you’ll be grand!)
1. Be predictable
It is absolutely crucial that you have no sudden movements in any direction. Ride smoothly and at a steady pace at all times. It is also important that you keep your line – don’t weave across the road, keep an eye on the edge of the road and stick to that position, even when you are cornering.
2. Maintain a constant speed
For drafting to work, the group needs to stay together. If you get to the front of the pack and start to hammer away, it won’t work as the other riders will struggle to keep up. If you are weak, spend less time at the front as this will give you more recovery time. The most crucial thing is to not lose contact with the group at any point.
3. Sudden braking is a sin
All it takes is for one member of the pack to slam on the brakes to cause a pile-up!
4. Give the rest of the pack a heads up
If you see a hazard that might affect the safety of the rest of the pack make sure you give them a heads up – these could range from an animal in the road to a massive pothole. If you accidentally drop your bottle, don’t stop, just let the rest of the riders know what’s happened.
5. Know your hand signals and use them
If you are a little bit rusty on your old hand signals we suggest a quick refresh before heading out. You should know the signals for turning, stopping, potholes, glass and train tracks. These signals are passed from rider to rider until they reach the end of the pack.
6. Don’t overlap your wheels
One sure fire way to cause an accident is to overlap your wheel with the rider in front of you. If the overlapped rider decides to pull out, a collision is sure to occur! Be sure to keep an eye on the position of your front wheel.
7. Don’t look back
It’s natural to spin your head around when you hear something abnormal behind you. However, resist the urge. A swift turn of the head can cause a rider to change their line and speed, resulting in chaos. If you hear a crash behind you, keep your eyes ahead as the pack will naturally slow and stop to deal with the situation.
8. Keep your cool if you get a puncture
Don’t go into panic mode if you get a puncture. Instead, raise your hand so that the guys behind you can see what has happened and that they need to ride around you. Be very careful if you get a front puncture and you are simultaneously going downhill as raising your hand can result in catastrophe. Instead you should use your back brake, and keep going until the rest of the bunch has passed you, at which time you can pull over to the side of the road.
9. Communication is key
Riding in a pack isn’t that scary once you get to grips with it. The most important thing is to be open with your fellow riders about how you are feeling. Communication is the key to a smooth ride.
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