The group ride is a hallmark of cycling and a major reason many cyclists enjoy riding their bikes. Most of our routes and daily rides take the shape of some version of a group ride. It could be a handful or less of your closest friends planning something the night before on a text thread. Or it could be a regularly schedule local group ride you want to hop on.
Fact is we all LOVE group rides. They are fun, social, and often can push us to a physical effort level we may not reach on an individual ride. Whatever your reason for joining a group ride, make sure you CLEARLY UNDERSTAND the #1 One Tip. Knowing this can build trust between your fellow riders, ensure your safety and theirs, and boost confidence.
The #1 Group Ride Tip is:
Point out hazards. It sounds easy, and even lame to some people. But it is hands down the number one group ride tip out there. There are hundreds of suggestions and even unwritten group riding rules of etiquette related to group riding. There are rules on how to properly wear your sunglasses and the proper length of your socks. There are really important tips related to drafting and wheel overlapping. Not sprinting from the middle of a pack, and more. All of these are incredible and worth learning. Why is pointing out hazards the #1 tip? Because pointing out hazards can not only save you but can save the group from devastating crashes. It takes no bike handling skill. It requires no real experience. And yet it can help avoid gnarly bike crashes. ANYONE can do it. EVERYONE should do it. You can show up to your first group ride and be an expert at it simply by learning what is expected of you without having ridden much at all. Plus, some of us more experienced riders get to casual in our hazard pointing. We get too comfortable thinking “surely everyone behind me can see this…” – when in fact, rarely can your fellow cyclists see anything in front of you, or even next to you. Call it out. Point it out. Nail this down or get nailed out there.
Everyone appreciates the cyclist who points out hazards. Do your part in the group and ensure everyone sees what you are pointing out. Make sure if you see another cyclist pointing something out that you also gesture, and make your gesture big. Ensure the message is received all the way down through the group. It creates a feeling of safety, security, and trust. Be the cyclist that points out hazards. Don’t be the cyclist not paying attention, or not effectively pointing out hazards. No one wants to ride behind or with the careless cyclist. We all have been in group rides where we instantly mark the guy to avoid.
There may be too many to list them all. However, anything that poses a risk to you and/or your group is a hazard. Especially when you are in the front of the group you may be able to easily avoid a bump, dip, crack, pothole, etc in the road but in the middle of back of the group it may be much more difficult to see. Hazards may include:
- Road defects such as cracks, potholes, uneven surfaces, dips, bumps, and more.
- Construction issues such as cones, metal plates, ditches, incomplete road surfaces, signs, and more.
- Traffic Signals and stop signs and other road signs and indicators.
- Traffic issues such as heavy traffic, car up ahead, car back, passing cars, parked cars, big trucks, cars at intersections.
- Intersections and directions such as right and or left turns, slowing, and stopping.
- Road debris such as branches, rocks, gravel, sand, bits of car tires, the million weird things that fall out of cars and end up in the bike lane (one time I had to avoid hitting a refrigerator!), etc and more.
- Dogs, runners, pedestrians, and other living things. ;-0 Seriously – so many possibilities here that must be called out. Stray dogs, or even dogs on a leash in the sidewalk that get too close to your bike lane can be a disaster.
- Even other cyclists or other cycling groups you come upon that are slower than you. They must be called out and provided plenty of room when passing (3′ at a minimum).
There are seriously more. This is just a quick list of the basics. Every town, and country will likely have its own unique set of “hazards” you may encounter. Point them out!
Proper Hazard Pointing
Not every cyclist points out hazards, and many don’t even do it the right way. Lets discuss how you can do it the right way. The general principle here is that small gestures are hard to see, especially when dark. Think big. Think big gestures (except for verbal cues can be over done – see below). Be certain your pointing is seen. When done right many cyclists behind you can see. When done wrong the cyclist immediately behind you may not even see you point.
If you’re thinking it is unsafe to remove your hand from your handle bar longer than a nano second then you’re wrong. This fear based mindset will only allow you to make short, quick, and small gestures. The people who crash behind you because you’re uncomfortable riding with one hand won’t appreciate your lack of bike handling skills. And yes, if you ride in a group of other cyclists and hop on “the group” ride then you better be able to demonstrate some basic bike handling skills such as pointing out hazards. Others are depending on you doing it. I have a good friend and local cyclist named Saul who only has the use of his left arm. His right arm had been damaged and is permanently in a sling. He rides his bicycle with one hand at all times. And yes, he is COMFORTABLE pointing out hazards. Not only is he comfortable, he is one of the safest cyclists in a group ride I know. What’s your excuse? Saul can do it and ride momentarily long enough without any hands on the handlebar to ensure the safety of those he rides with.
Get comfortable pointing out in big gestures. Make sure you have some basic bike handling skills nailed down. Your comfort level needs to be there before you put others at risk.
Finger Pointing & Hand Gestures
I’ll start with a personal pet peeve of mine. The cyclist who pints something out with a finger but holds his/her hand so close to their body that unless you’re on that side of the cyclist you stand no chance of seeing it. Even if you are right behind him you may not see the gesture. Especially if it is dark! It’s as if the cyclist is trying to not allow any air space between his arm and his body. While it is great that this guy at least points something out, it is a very ineffective way to do so. The guys riding directly behind him may not see him, and you know the guys in the middle and back of the group can never see such a gesture. It’s simply ineffective.
When it comes to finger pointing and hand gestures, it is best to exaggerate your movement and your pointing. Instead of keeping your arm tight along side you, point by holding your arm directly extended all the way out perpendicular to your body. Also – some motion is even more effective. Not only will the cyclists directly behind you see you, but even many of the cyclists in the back of the group may still see it. This is the proper way to point hazards regardless of where your position in the pack/group. Even if you are in the very back, you never know when someone or some other group may be coming up behind you. Plus it is good to make it a habit. Point out hazards even in the back.
Another common hand gesture worth making big is the “slowing” or “stopping” hand gesture. Make sure to emphasize this big like all hand gestures. Ensure the guys behind you see it. In this case you may also want to call it out verbally as we discuss later in this article.
Verbal Calling Out
This is often best accompanied with literal finger pointing. The two combined are unmistakable. However, on it’s own verbal calling out may be effective when warning of an approaching car. A classic example, is someone in the back yells out “Car Back” – indicating that a car is coming from behind. This is fine. It is best when like the old telephone game when you hear it you repeat it. This way you ensure the warning makes it’s way through the peleton. “Car up”, “Slowing”, “Stopping”, “Right Turn”, “Left Turn” are all common verbal calls. All of which are also best accompanied with some hand signals as well.
Remember hand gestures are hard to see unless they are big movements. Imagine you are on a stage and performing in a theater production. How will you guarantee the people in the back of the theater can still see and understand what you are conveying? Simple, by over exaggerating. This is what actors must do, even down to their stage makeup. We ought to do it as well. Their very facial expressions and body movements must be exaggerated or they are missed and their production was ineffective at conveying the message they intended. So it is with group cycling. Again, especially in the dark.
Verbal call outs can at times be over exaggerated. One important thing to bring up here is that the temptation to scream out some word like “debris” or “hole” can sometimes scare the hell out of the other cyclists in your group. Often they can’t hear exactly what you are yelling. And if it sounds like you’re about to die and all you intended was to point out a stick next to you then you must be mindful of the risks. Don’t over yell. Screaming like your about to die is not necessarily helpful. This is the one example if how over exaggeration doesn’t fit. A calm and controlled strong tone is important. Screaming for your life is scary. Remember what it feels like when a car drives by and honks unexpectedly at you. Scary! It is the same when you hear someone over yelling. Be safe. Be smart. Be calm and controlled in all of your gestures, call outs, and in all things bike handling.
Pre Ride Call Outs
Last but not least, before a ride starts is an awesome time to draw attention to anything in the route you already know is a hazard. Many of our routes are common. If we remember some construction, or a particular hole, etc. bring it up to the group before you even start. This could likely save someone a lot of pain.
Don’t be afraid to call/point out hazards. Be comfortable with your bicycle before joining a group ride. Be the cyclist everyone can trust. Regardless of your experience as a cyclist, we are here for you. My practice is exclusively for cyclists. I manage a national network of cycling attorneys as well. I ride. I race. I advocate. I choose to live and ride. #mylawyerdoesntsuck #arizonabicyclelawyer #bicyclelawyer
Ben Dodge, Esq., Endurance/Ultra Cyclist
Bicycle crash and bicycle accident lawyer Ben Dodge
A bicycle crash is not always an accident. If you, or someone you know has been injured in a bicycle crash or accident caused by a road hazard or dangerous road condition, hire a personal injury attorney who is experienced and has a successful track record. Ben Dodge, a licensed Arizona bicycle accident lawyer, has dedicated his entire firm to one purpose: representing cyclists. Bicycle accident cases are the only cases Bike Accident Attorneys, PLC handles. Home based out of the great state of Arizona, Ben can still help cyclists in the entire United States. Ben also founded Bike Accident Attorneys Network, a national network of attorneys who focus on representing cyclists. He can find you help anywhere in the country.
Ben Dodge has represented and assisted bicycle accident victims across the entire United States. As an avid and competitive cyclist himself, Mr. Dodge currently participates in national and local cycling events all over the world. It isn’t uncommon to spot him in early morning hours out riding his bike. Having competed in 8 Ironman triathlons, numerous local and national cycling races, and a successful finish in the Race Across the West 2016, he really knows what it’s like to ride and race a bike. Ben competed in the first ever Race Across France – 2018. This was a non stop 1500+ mile race across the entire country of France. He and his teammate finished 3rd. He is registered for a 2 man Race Across America (RAAM) team as well in 2019.
The day he fell in love with his job was the day he devoted himself completely to bicycle accident cases. Ben represents cyclists injured in bicycle accidents, at the police station, with insurance companies, and in the courts. He advocates for the rights of all cyclists, not just his clients. He teaches police about bike laws and bike safety, he educates drivers about the rules of the road, and he trains cyclists and clubs to ride more safely.
A consultation with experienced Arizona bicycle accident attorney Ben Dodge is free
In recent years there has been approximately 700 bicycle fatalities in the United States every single year. Approximately 2,000 bicycle accidents are reported in Arizona every year. Approximately 30 fatal bicycle accidents are reported in Arizona every year. Bicycle fatalities are terrible and horrific tragedies that affect the lives of too many families and friends to count. Understanding your rights and obligations as a cyclist can bring clarity to your specific accident situation. It will always be in your best interest to be represented by an attorney who knows the bicycle laws and has a successful track record of winning bicycle accident cases. The negotiation tactics and strategies of winning a case are extremely important, but should always take a back row seat to the litigation experience and knowledge of court room rules, local, state, and federal rules of civil procedure that can have significant impact on your bicycle accident case. Ben is certified through the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA) as having completed extensive litigation courses and has demonstrated these skills over and over again. Most lawyers are pencil pushers and shouldn’t be in a court room… not Ben Dodge. He is a gifted and aggressive litigator. It is wise to be represented by someone well versed in bicycle accident law, local and state bicycle ordinances, rules, regulations, policies, and laws. You should hire someone very familiar with negligence and tort law, civil procedure, and the rules of evidence as they all relate specifically to bicycle accident cases.
Ben Dodge always offers a complimentary in person consultation to all local cyclists and a complimentary phone consultation to any cyclist injured in a bike accident. Typically the consultations are schedule from 30-60 minutes depending on the severity of the accident. You can expect to get answers to questions, clarity, information, and reassurance of your personal bike accident liability and potential for recovery. In your free consultation you can generally expect to discuss such topics as:
- Your specific bike accident details, diagrams, and pictures from your perspective and then from the perspective of your bike accident attorney.
- The applicable local, state, and federal laws underlying your case.
- Your rights as a cyclist, obligations, and any potential liability.
- The process, procedure (in and out of court), and the time frame required to conclude your case.
- The value of your case and what you might expect as compensation.
You can call Arizona bicycle lawyer Ben Dodge of Bike Accident Attorneys, PLC at 1.855.663.3922. Mr. Dodge’s staff is standing and ready to accept your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every single day of the year. Ben will personally return your call within 24 hours. There is never an obligation past a complimentary consultation with Mr. Dodge. His passion is in representing cyclists and his entire office stands ready to serve with kindness and patience.
Bike Accident Attorneys, PLC
Call Ben Dodge, the Bicycle Lawyer today at 1.855.663.3922. Reach him by fax at 1.800.958.8902.
Mr. Dodge can also be reached by email at email@example.com
His main Arizona offices are located at:
Mesa Arizona (home base office)
4824 E. Baseline Rd., Suite 124
Mesa, Arizona 85206
Phoenix Arizona office
2415 e. Camelback Rd., suite 700
Phoenix, Arizona 85016
Tucson Arizona office
One South Church Avenue, 12th Floor
Tucson, Arizona 85701
Mr. Dodge represents cyclists in the entire state of Arizona including but not limited to Mesa, Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma, Gilbert, Peoria, Glendale, Scottsdale, Ahwatukee, Tempe, Chandler, Prescott, Sedona, Flagstaff, Surprise, Kingman, Page, Lake Havasu City, Payson, Goodyear, Buckeye, Queen Creek, Paradise Valley, Show Low, Winslow, Maricopa, Nogales, Globe, Avondale, Cave Creek, Fountain Hills, Apache Junction, Carefree, Wickenburg, Pinetop-Lakeside, Strawberry, Anthem, Safford, and more. Ben Dodge is currently involved with bicycle accident cases all over the country and has founded BikeAccidentAttorneys.com a National Network of independent and incredible bicycle lawyers that can assist in representation in all 50 states.