Fact sheet - bunch riding

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					                        CYCLING FACT SHEET No. 6

     Being part of a bunch adds a new riding dimension
Cycling in a group has a number of advantages over riding solo, such as a reduction in energy expended
through the use of slipstreaming and having someone to talk with along the way. If you are new to this type of
activity, try to find a group that suits your level of fitness. Some bike shops have notices displayed that give
details of clubs looking for participants and the average speed of their rides.

Once you have joined a ride, try to use a similar gear ratio to the rest of the bunch and don’t just focus on the
rear wheel of the bike directly in front. Always scan a few riders ahead so that you can anticipate any problems.
Be prepared to point out obstacles such as potholes, loose gravel or broken glass for any riders behind you. A
simple call of “hole” or “glass” can save a puncture or damaged rim.

Novices have a tendency to freewheel momentarily when they rise out of the saddle to tackle a hill, but this
causes their bike to slow down dramatically and can create chaos in a tight bunch of riders.

When starting a hill climb, try to maintain forward pressure on the pedals as you get out of the saddle so your
speed remains constant.

Never overtake on the inside and avoid “half-wheeling” (or keeping
half of your wheel in front of the second rider) when you are at the
front of the bunch, because the rider behind you then has a natural
tendency to speed up to pull alongside you, which in turn causes you
to speed up and forces the entire group to travel at an uncomfortably
high speed.

The people at the front of the bunch have an important role to play,
because they are responsible for not only themselves but every other
rider as well.

At traffic signals, the lead riders should stop when the light turns amber rather than trying to sprint through the
intersection, because riders at the rear of the bunch will not have enough time to get through before the lights
turn red. All members of a riding group need to be aware of what the law says about where they can and
cannot ride. Bunch riding on shared paths should only be considered if the group is small and everyone is
prepared to show care and courtesy towards other path users. The Over 55 Cycle Club regularly uses shared
paths as part of its scheduled rides, but always does so with great caution and restricts the number of riders to
no more than a dozen or so. By law, groups using a shared path must be in single file unless overtaking. Except
when using a shared path, cyclists are permitted to ride two abreast providing they are not more than 1.5
metres apart.

On a single lane carriageway, riders must keep as far to the left as practicable. If the road has a sealed
shoulder, it is considered part of the actual carriageway. Because most sealed shoulders are at least 1.5 metres
wide, this means that a bunch not in the process of overtaking or avoiding an obstruction would need to be
almost entirely contained within the sealed shoulder even when riding two abreast. On multi-lane roads, riders
can use the sealed shoulder or the left lane. If a sign-posted designated bicycle lane is available (along parts
of Tonkin Highway for example), the bunch must use it exclusively and not the road. This often means having
to travel in single file.

This fact sheet is one of a series dealing with the use of bicycles       Bikewest
for recreation and transport in Western Australia. The series looks       Department of Transport
at a range of cycling-related topics including ride routes, touring       441 Murray Street, Perth WA 6000
tips, maintenance, safety, road rules, insurance and product              Tel: (08) 9216 8000
reviews. You can find more cycling fact sheets online at                  Fax: (08) 9216 8497
www.transport.wa.gov.au/cycling                                           Email: cycling@transport.wa.gov.au

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