Group Riding Etiquette
Group rides can be difficult. Each rider in a group has their own ideas and expectations for each outing. Some might want to ride hard and fast while others want to sight-see and take photos. Additionally, each rider will have varying skill levels and equipment capabilities. As the size of your group increases so does the diversity of opinions and abilities. Drastic diversity can easily ruin an otherwise good ride! Thus, larger groups require better planning.
Here is my short list of items that I have found to be problematic when riding with a group. If each rider can minimize violating these etiquette suggestions then the trip becomes more enjoyable and safer for everyone.
#1 GOLDEN RULE: DON'T HOLD UP THE GROUP!
- We came to ride! It's difficult to keep a large group moving; therefore, keep personal breaks short. Unecessary breaks include too many photo stops, taking your helmet off at every stop, stopping your engine at every stop, etc. Such breaks signal other members of the group to do the same after which it takes several minutes to get going again. Nothing is more annoying when you are raring to ride than a group that keeps stopping to chat! On long adventures, you'll find the sun going down sooner than you think—a dangerous situation! To minimize stops, plan designated rest stops for group rehab/hydration ahead of time and let everyone know. Also, designate a group leader to watch the clock and keep the pace up.
- Plan and provide yourself with enough sleep and nutrition so that you are healthy and ready to ride the entire outing. Don't cut others' adventure short because you can't finish. Multi-day adventures require additional planning/provisioning.
- Make certain that your equipment is in top shape and ready to ride BEFORE leaving on your trip. Performing work on your bike while everyone is waiting on you is discourteous! A bike that breaks down due to lack of maintenence ruins everyone's day—especially when it's ten miles back to camp!
- Don't impinge on others by asking them to provide supplies that you failed to bring. Plan well and keep a checklist that you can refine and reuse for future trips.
- Don't invite a friend without checking with the group first. If your friend doesn't mesh with the group or can't keep up then no one will want him along again and he won't enjoy himself. Wait for a different trip or plan your own trip where your friend can fit in well.
- Ride together. Don't lose track of who is in front of, and behind you. Maintaining unity is everyone's responsibility.
- Wait for others to catch up periodically. This ensures they haven't fallen or strayed off-track.
- STOP at all vague wyes and turns in the trail. Make sure the rider behind you doesn't become lost.
- If you lose someone or become lost, STOP! ALWAYS RETURN TO THE POINT WHERE LAST SEEN AND WAIT.
- Never ride beyond your ability! Slowing down the group is much better than ending the whole trip due to an injury. An injury twenty miles into the wilderness might mean a cold night and discomfort for all involved.
- Always know where you are at in case YOU become the rescuer. Know where and how to get help.
Etiquette For Planning A Group Ride
- Consider everyone in the group and their abilities and expections. It's not fair to plan an outing that EVERYONE will not enjoy!
- Make certain that everyone knows exactly what type of outing you are planning and what is to be expected as far as skill-level and intensity. An average rider might not want to join an advanced trip. Likewise, an advanced rider might opt out if there is little challenge; but not necessarily! Advanced riders enjoy social, casual rides, too—just not every time. Let everyone know what to expect.
- If the size and diversity of your group is too great, consider breaking into two groups, each with a different plan matching their ability or expectations. For example: a longer, more difficult ride for advanced riders. Just make sure each group has a competent leader.
- If you do break into separate groups, remember this: If you invited someone on a trip, it's not right to put them with another group of people unless that was their expectation to begin with! If you invited them, you are obligated to accomodate them.
- Plan multiple rides. Invite smaller groups to more advanced rides, and invite everybody to the easier fun rides. This makes everyone feel included.