Group Dynamics

There are many great reasons to train in a group – and a bit of banter over coffee and cake after a ride is only one of them. It’s easier and faster riding in a bunch, but everyone needs to know the rules, says Andy Cook. Here’s how to stay safe when you’re riding in a group…


Nose blowing, eating, drinking and chatting are best saved for further back in the group – not out front. Remember this and others will respect you more.

How close is too close?

If you’re riding with someone you draft regularly, your front tyre needs to be inches from their back tyre to get the most benefit. But during sportives, where large groups ride close together, it’s a good idea to give people as much room as possible.

On the wheel

If you find yourself in the middle of a strong, smooth chaingang (line of riders), enjoy the rest but don’t lose concentration. Ride slightly offset, so you can keep an eye out for any potential problems further up the road.

On the front

If you’re at the front of the group, pedal smoothly and efficiently on the flat, and if you do have to get out of the saddle, try your utmost not to shoot your bike backwards as you stand up.

Know your limits

If the group starts pulling away, don’t destroy yourself by trying to keep up. In a sportive, you’re better off conserving energy and waiting for the next group to come through to ride with them.

Steady as she goes

One of the biggest mistakes people make is overreacting to hazards. Remember there are people riding close to you; brake softly and don’t make sudden movements. The further back you are in a chaingang, the less time you’ll have to react.

Sitting up and moving

When you’ve done your turn at the front, don’t stop pedalling or sit up suddenly. Keep your pace while you pull out. That way the rider on your wheel can get a pull onto the wheel you’ve been drafting. Once you’re out of the way then you can sit up.

Look where you’re going!

Before you move, put in a ‘life-saver’ glance in the direction you want to go. Following riders will see your head movement and know you’re about to move.

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