The Do’s and Don’ts of Bunch Riding

The bunch is a living animal – moody and aggressive, sometimes intimidating, often nervous. Here are the essential do’s and don'ts.

Bicycling Editors |

DO Focus on the upper body and head of the rider in front of you.

DON’T Spend too much time looking at his/her back wheel.

DON’T Get scared. Or at least, cowboy up and don’t ride as though you are. A nervous, scared bunch is a dangerous animal. In this vein, don’t turn it into a ‘brake-fest’.

DO Stay abreast of riders beside you, and make sure your wheels don’t overlap.

DO Take your turn at the front – you can’t hide in the bunch and then sprint to the finish. The dynamic in a big race is slightly different, and you need to gauge the bunch. And if it’s not quite a bunch…

DON’T Speed up when you take your turn at the front – consistency is key. The two front riders determine the bunch pace and you don’t want to be responsible for splitting the group, so judge the speed (or check your computer when you’re in the middle) and do the same speed.

DON’T Spit or blow your nose when sitting at the front. Signal when you’re about to void and – weird as it sounds – do it well. Practise on your next ride.

DO Act as the eyes when in front. Warn the rest of upcoming dangers and obstacles while at the front. The lead riders are responsible for the entire group. Point towards the obstacle while calling it out.

DO Indicate when you’re going to have a drink. Take your bottle out (without looking down if you can) and hold it horizontally out to the right (or left if you’re so handed) before lifting it to your mouth. Please don’t punch the guy next to you in the process.

DON’T Change your line (i.e. that of the rider in front of you) when cornering; that way, you’ll avoid bumping into riders or pushing them out across the road, and upsetting the pace and flow of the bunch.

DON’T Force your ways onto the group. It can be pretty medieval in there (the masses decide), so just go with the flow.

DO Ride ‘obvious’ – trust the riders around you, but (not unlike driving) make sure you ride so that they don’t make mistakes.

DO Apologise if you get yelled at. If you’re the one doing the yelling, be reasonable…

DON’T Look back at the bunch. Ever.

DON’T Take it too seriously. This point should really have gone first, but then you probably wouldn’t have read any further.

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