When there are a bunch of riders showing up for a group ride, you can bet the level of ability (based on speed) is all over the board; really fast to those new to the sport. Unfortunately, newer riders default to the premise that faster riders know more about riding (and for this post, I’m specifically spotlighting riding in a group). Hate to break the news to you but just because a rider can ride fast (or faster than you) doesn’t mean they are a better rider, know more than you OR automatically know the correct way to do things. Did you catch that? There are countless fast group rides that I’ve ridden in for 18 years and I can tell you without hesitation that there are way too many fast riders that are dangerous and certainly don’t automatically know the correct way to function in a group ride. Which leads me to my most common Robert’ism:
” just because you can ride FAST doesn’t mean you are a good (or safe) rider….it just means you can ride fast”
That said, let me propose a scenario and see what your response is to what you think is the correct action. Ready?
You are riding in a group ride and you are approaching a dead end, where you will be turning right onto a 2 lane road that is known to have quite a bit of traffic. As you would expect, as everyone is approaching this dead end, they are braking and fully expecting to come to a full and complete stop. As you get to the dead end, there is no traffic to your left, so you actually don’t completely stop but pretty close. All of the sudden, you realize another rider who is barreling thru on your right, going much faster than everyone else, and dives around you while barely keeping his tires from leaving the asphalt. To know surprise, the 3 riders he barreled past, were caught off guard and were quite startled that someone would dive in past them on their right side.
QUESTION #1: While riding your bike on the road, do you think it is appropriate and widely accepted to pass another rider on their right side….even though those riders are riding on the far right side already?
ANSWER #1: _______________
OK, I have to give the answer away because after witnessing this incident, this rider is approached and told that passing on the right is not tolerated and he put the safety of those he barreled past in jeopardy. The 3 riders eventually come up to you and thank you for actually saying something and ‘calling them out’.
Approximately 2 1/2 miles later, you are riding down an incredibly steep hill that has you going 45 mph and you are on the far right side of the road, less than 1 foot from the edge of the road. All the sudden, that same guy that dove on the inside edge of the road earlier, is doing again by you. Instead of 10 mph (earlier), it’s now 45 mph. Oh, I forgot to highlight that the entire left side of the lane was wide open; no other riders, no traffic…nothing.
QUESTION #2: I guess it’s a no-brainer, but for fairness, do you think it is appropriate (and safe) to pass another rider like this?
ANSWER #2: _________________
Just from a common sense standpoint, which apparently doesn’t seem to be very common at all, trying to pass on the right side when there is not enough room, is just crazy, unsafe and like a disregard for the safety of others.
To no surprise, this is exactly what happened on a group ride today. You would think that the 1st warning would be enough to deter this rider from doing it again. Obviously not. From a road cycling perspective, it is NOT correct group ride etiquette to pass another rider on their right, when they are already riding on the far right side of the road. Doing so, eliminates their ‘room for error’ for being able to move, divert, etc. to the right for any road hazards, swerving riders close to you or from getting ‘buzzed’ by passing vehicles.
On the other hand, if you are riding on a track, like the Dick Lane Velodrome, then passing on the right is how and where you are suppose to pass. This is the safe and correct action…for a track…but NOT when you are riding on the road. My guess is that if you have been riding long enough, then you have certainly experienced this.
The take-away from this post is the fact that you NEVER pass on a rider’s right side when they are already riding on the far right side of the road. You not only put yourself at risk for a potential crash but you also endanger those who you startle as you squeeze into a space that is NOT for you to pass.
Want access to the most in-depth, descriptive group riding etiquette resource around? Then you need to read IT’S NOT ABOUT SPEED: The Lost Art of Group Riding. This easy e-book resource evens offers embedded video to help further illustrate specific dynamics that are present in every single group ride.
Is it REALLY worth it to gain a spot or two in a group ride at the expense of rogue, unsafe acts like this? Remember, there is no one waiting in the parking lot at the end of a group ride with a big fat check for you because you finished first or because you improved your position by a few spots.
With 3 cycling deaths and a miraculous survival from an almost head-on collision in just 10 days in metro Atlanta, I think this is exactly the time that we re-evaluate group rides and ourselves and realize what is really important….and it isn’t how well you did on the ride. It’s enjoying a fantastic sport and coming home after each ride to our families.