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

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