Lining up with thousands of cyclists isn’t something you do every day. Follow these tips to make it safe and fun for everyone. – By Elspeth Huyett
You’ll be riding so close to others that you can smell their chain lube. Those tight quarters can lead to accidents, even at slow speeds. “The most common crashes come from people feeling claustrophobic, or someone bumping them, and they just overreact,” Slaton said. Before your big ride, practice riding with friends or training partners so you become accustomed to pedalling in a group. You’ll be more confident and less shaky during your event.
It’s Unlikely You’ll Win The Race
If you want to go fast, make sure you start at the front and keep the pace high. Accidents happen when you fly through a crowd of cyclists travelling at a slower speed. There are people who just push the pace and testing their fitness levels, and then there are people who are just looking at the sights. It’s important to be patient, and keep in mind that this might be some people’s first substantial ride.
During the first few kilometres, the group will usually be packed with little room between riders. Keep your hands trigger-ready on the brakes—it’ll help you react quickly should you need to slow down. Even if the roads are closed to cars, you need to watch out for pedestrians, road debris, and other obstacles that might be hard to see through the crowd of riders. Keep your head up and pay attention.
Especially at Rest Stops
Be extra cautious near rest stops. Riders will often swerve across multiple lanes when they see a free porta-potty or a table of food. And watch for cyclists rejoining the flow of riders—they’ll often be distracted, or trying to stuff a few extra ride snacks into their pockets. Inexperienced riders may be a bit wobbly and unpredictable as they start from a full stop.
Because visibility can be limited when you’re riding with a crowd of cyclists, help each other by announcing potential hazards: intersections, potholes, turns, traffic, or anything else that might cause an accident. And let others know when you are turning, passing, and slowing to prevent any unnecessary mishaps.
Don’t Be a Jerk
This golden rule also applies to cycling. Talk to people, say hi, and smile lots—you’ll have more fun, we promise.