The goal of this post is to get a pulse from cyclists about group riding; more specifically etiquette. That means, getting your response and perspective will really be the most important part of this post.
The scene is a typical group ride on the open roads of rural metro Atlanta. Your group had about a dozen riders, all about the same riding level (meaning the ability to ride at the same speed…that’s it). However, on every little rise, roller or hill, you have one rider (we’ll refer to rider #1) who bolts up those inclines and immediately splits up the group…because not everyone can climb as fast as him. Then, when he arrives at the crest of these inclines, he stops pedaling and even coasts down just about every hill, or he continues to pedal but never shifts up. The point here is that because he is slowing down on a downhill, everyone behind him has to ride their brakes to stay behind him. That can’t be fun…
Now, you have another rider (rider #2) who never stops pedaling, no matter what the terrain…especially downhill. In addition to never stopping pedaling, he rides without any surges forward or any slow downs. The elimination of surges, etc. for this rider results in riding sort of how I would describe you keeping your foot on the gas at the same spot while driving, even though the terrain goes up and down. In other words, his speed changes with the terrain but the effort his engine creates stays the same.
Pay attention here, as I want to describe a visual scenario that occurs from these 2 riders’ styles. Rider 1 coasts downhill but rider 2 continues to pedal. That means rider 2 passes rider 1 on the downhill and starts the upcoming climb sooner (and at a faster speed) than rider 1. But, because rider 1 surges up every hill, he eventually catches rider 2 somewhere near the crest of the hill. In addition, because rider 2 keeps pedaling after reaching the crest, while rider 1 slows down, this creates a bad-forth passing between these 2 riders every time there is a downhill and uphill. Got the picture?
About 10-12 miles into the group ride, rider 2 yet again passes rider 1, because it’s just after a downhill and he hits the uphill at a greater speed than rider 1. When he passes, rider 2 moves over to the right side of the lane in front of rider 1 and he quite a bit of distance back from rider 2. But, because rider 2 typically surges up hills, he quickly closes this gap in front of him. But, rider 1 has ridden on the right side of the lane from the beginning of the ride, while rider 2 has always passed him on his left side. Oh, let’s throw in the mix that the group has been riding in a single pace line the whole time…except when riders are passing each other but they always move over back to the right. Makes sense?
OK, here’s where I want to get your feedback and perspective on group ride etiquette. When rider 2 passed rider 1 and moved back over to the right, rider 1 closed the gap but instead of passing rider 2 on his left side, he passed rider 2 on his right side…even though rider 2 was riding very close to the right edge of the road. There was only room for about half of a handlebar to get through safely but rider 1’s handlebar wasn’t cut in half. Rider 2 had to suddenly and abruptly jerk to his left, in order for rider 1 to not literally ram into him and cause a collision. You can imagine rider 2’s panic and his heart rate kick up.
After rider 2 calmed down from this near-miss, he rides up to rider 1 and tells him he should have never passed on his right; there was literally not enough room. He also tells rider 1 if he wanted to pass him, that he should have done so on the left side, where the entire middle and left side of the lane is wide open. But, instead of apologizing for the almost collision and almost guaranteed resulting crash, rider 1 blasts back by saying he has been riding on the right side the whole ride, as to say that just because he had been riding in this part of the lane, that it gave him the right to stay there and shove his way through on the right where there was no room.
So, here’s my questions to you:
1. should rider 1 have passed to the right of rider 2? If so, why?
2. should rider 1 have passed to the left of rider 2? If so, why?
3. Because rider 1 had been riding on the right side of the lane for the 10-12 miles, did that give him the right to never move but force his way through where there was really no room at all? If so, why?
4. What have you learned about passing riders during a group ride, especially in a scenario of riding in a single pace line? Where did you learn it?
5. Here’s the biggie: What would you have done if you were rider 1 and wanted to pass rider 2 in this exact scenario? Now, explain why?
When you respond, make sure your reply stays focused on the actions of both riders and not on what you think about the “person”. I want to create healthy discussion.
OK, it’s your turn now. Can’t wait to read your responses. Oh, pass this post along to any cyclists you know; the more responses we get, the better. Once I’ve received a good amount of responses, then I’ll continue this post with what I would advocate in this scenario…and why. That may spark some more responses from you; ya never know.