Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Signals and Calls for bunch riding - SAFETY

Since its inception, Fluid Movements has always seen the benefits of outdoor cycling sessions and weekly bunch riding for our riders. This environment teaches many things that indoor and solo riding cannot.

These include:

  • Building a riders confidence through exposure to varied terrain, traffic and climatic conditions.
  • Increased bike handling skills through experience and constant skill refinement.
  • Develops awareness of how to stay safe and ride defensively on public roads.
  • How to dose rider effort when training and racing in wind, heat and rain.

The importance of staying safe when training this way brings us to cycling etiquette and pack riding.
To ride safely in a bunch requires a number of important factors including – matched rider experience and ability within a bunch, constant rider communication through clear and universally understood signals and riders being consistent and predictable with their riding behaviour.
If these rules are not followed, riders can put themselves and others in the bunch at risk of injury. Here are some basic calls that everyone should know.

Riders back or riders
When you are approaching riders let them know you are passing by calling ‘riders’ in advance of the pass. If you are at the rear of the bunch and you are calling that riders are passing the bunch then you call ‘riders back.’

Car up or car back
When you are approaching a parked car and you are going to deviate right and change direction to pass, call ‘car up’ and motion with your left hand coming behind your back. If you are at the rear of the bunch and a car is approaching in your lane, call ‘car back.’

Pot holes and debris (Glass)
If you are approaching a pot hole, the lead rider points out the hole by possibly calling ‘hole’ and signalling with a pointed left or right depending on which side they are passing. For glass, definitely yell out ‘glass and point it out on the left or right

Stopping for lights
Ideally, in this instance think of the bunch as one vehicle.  The leaders will decide if the bunch stops at the light or goes through.  As soon as the light turns Amber, the leaders will call out loudly “STOPPING” or “LIGHTS” if they are bringing the group to a halt.  If they decide there is not enough space to stop the group safely, they will call out “ROLLING” and the whole group goes through.
A few very important considerations:
  • The call the leaders make applies to the whole group.  If they call STOPPING and someone three wheels back calls ROLLING you can imagine what could happen.  Likewise, if they call ROLLING but someone in the middle of the group makes a unilateral decision to stop, everyone behind doing the right thing will crash into the back of them.  The call BY the leaders is all that matters.
  • The leaders might make a call that doesn’t make sense to you, but they can see more than you can, so do what they say.  The only thing you can do wrong as a leader is make no call.  If you’re in a bunch and you’re not happy with the leadership of it you should always pull out.
  • If you deem it unsafe to stop based on the proximity to the orange lights and the speed of the bunch, then call out ‘rolling’, and accelerate reasonably through the lights. If it’s a sizable bunch, then riders down the line must eventually decide to stop the bunch once it has been orange for a time or becomes red and is dangerous to proceed. The riders that went through should wait or soft pedal on the other side of the lights to allow the rest of the bunch to catch up, depending on the ride type.

When you need to call ‘Single’ file
When the road narrows or there is an approaching obstruction, the lead rider sometimes must call single file. This requires the bunch to form a single line to maintain safety due to the circumstance. This is done by the lead rider raising one arm above their head and calling ‘Single’. Normally the left hand rider maintains the lead and pace, and the rider on the right will slow and fall in behind. This is mirrored down the line
For more info on Fluid Movements Riding etiquette, go to
Coach Foz

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Types of Fluid Movements Training Rides

Choosing your bunch
Usually there are a couple of options for the bunch rides. Put yourself with the bunch that closest resembles your ability. This will make your ride more effective and enjoyable. If unsure ask the supervising coach.

The nature of bunch riding
Triathletes can sometimes struggle with changes of pace in bunch rides. Being generally TT riders, when riding solo at midweek sessions holding a prescribed intensity is the norm. The nature of bunch riding is that you have moments when bunches inevitably surge when passing, on lumpier terrain, or from the concertina effect when you are further back in the bunch.  This is all part of bunch riding, and as long as the surges are reasonable and not sustained, and don’t go against the ride objectives then this is ok and to be expected.

The only time when there is very stringent monitoring of this is when the bunch ride range of intensity is very narrow. This is when the bunch is doing an aerobic recovery or a social (no drop) ride. As a rule this type of ride happens infrequently but would be clearly called pre ride.

NOTE: Fluid Movements weekly Long Bunch Rides are generally aerobic conditioning intensity and often have scheduled tempo efforts following the control period at the beginning.

Social (No Drop) bunch ride
Aerobic recovery intensity where heart rate is low and riders go as easily as they can. If the riders are well matched then they should not be dropped. Intensity should stay below 70-75%mhr if on a flat course

Aerobic conditioning bunch ride
This ride is similar to the majority of long bunch rides Fluid Movements does. Intensity should stay between 70-80%mhr and be easy to moderate in aerobic intensity. Unless there is an efforts schedule set pre ride, this intensity is maintained to develop aerobic fitness and condition.

Tempo bunch ride
Usually this ride has a specific intensity above 78-85%mhr, and riders in the bunch should be very evenly matched. Smaller bunches of 3-5riders are suited to this type of ride, often with rolling turns or pace line formations used. Intensity should be from moderate to hard sustainable.

Solo weekend ride
Often after a designated period as a bunch at the start of the ride, riders will be asked to split off and ride solo off the wheel following their effort schedule for the rest of the ride in the aero position. It’s very important as triathletes to have this solo time in the aero especially as riders move into their specific training phases.

Solo weekday ride
The majority of midweek training should be done solo and off the wheel as per the rider’s individual training program. Intensity and duration is very specific, so bunch riding isn’t appropriate unless warming up or cooling down.

Commuting IS training, so riders must account for it when planning or reviewing their weekly ride mileage. All commuting should be done at an easy aerobic intensity. 

For the complete Fluid Movements manual go to

Coach Foz