Group Riding – Top Tips

Over the past 12-18 months the Nomads’ Membership has swelled to record levels. For newcomers to cycling there are a range of things to get to grips with. These include the basics such as getting fit enough to cover the distance and speeds cycling clubs cover as well as getting a bike, kit and nutrition factors right.

One aspect common to all newbies is having to ride in close proximity to other riders in a manner which is safe (for all riders) and which respects the Highway Code and also makes good progression on the road. The Highway Code is available online, check rule 66 for the myth-busting “single file” statements. Most “commentary” from motorists is usually related to riding single file. A response of “Read Rule 66″ may be a polite version of the various Anglo-Saxon retorts which may have been employed on occasion.

Riding directly behind the rider in front at roughly half a wheel’s distance from their back wheel requires concentration and above all, progressive, smooth and predictable manoeuvres. In the shelter of a group you will save energy and also share the load as you head out on whichever route you are on. Riding in a group is good fun, increases your skills and stamina and sharpens up your bike handling.

Top tips for this endeavour include:

  • Watch the SHOULDERS of the rider in front, not their wheel. Looking forward and up helps you to scan the road ahead. Looking down will cause you to lose sight of what is approaching or happening ahead.
  • Ride in a straight line. Or as near to straight as the road allows. Veering all over the place makes it hard to follow you and also increase the chances of a collision.
  • Do NOT brake erratically or perform sudden or jerky movements. This kind of activity sends ripples in to the following riders and, at worst, will cause a crash.
  • When changing gears be smooth and plan your change, the staccato clunk-clank of the front mech as it pulls a tantrum on a gear change will cause you to pause (even if very slightly) and this will create a similar effect as braking suddenly.
  • NEVER overlap wheels with the rider in front. “Half-wheeling” will increase the chances of wheels touching.
  • When peeling off the front always look around you and check that it is safe to do so, look over your shoulders and around you. A flick of the arm is the usual sign that the front rider needs a breather, so be observant. Riders coming through should maintain the same, steady speed and not simply hammer off in front. Increasing tempo as you hit the front of a group will cause it to stretch out and splinter and it will be much harder for the former front markers to get back on.
  • Do indicate and communicate your intentions to your co-riders. “It’s good to talk”. It’s even better to listen.
  • If you are at the front, indicate pot-holes and obstructions/hazards by pointing and/or calling them out. Remember that three or four lengths back riders will have limited visibility. The wind can also carry sound the wrong way so if you see or hear something DO relay it to the riders behind you. They may not hear it otherwise.
  • When you approach junctions and roundabouts, bring the speed down progressively and check for traffic before either stopping or moving off. Do NOT hammer off at the junction in the style of Eddie Merckx. It is likely that the group will become splintered at these road features so be sensible and check that everyone is still in contact. You will not be popular at the Cafe stop.
  • When you get to a hill or incline and you have almost religious quality visions of being the Eagle of Toledo or Marco Pantani in his prime, check around you before you make any increase in speed. Hill riding out of the saddle and sudden bursts of speed can lead to some of the things listed above coming in to fruition, e.g. overlapping wheels and sudden increases in speed. Check around you, if you do something like this in a road race and cause a touch of wheels you will be visiting the Commissaire. If you do it on a club run expect to be sent to Coventry, or worse, get a round of teas and cake in.
  • If someone (i.e. one of the old hands) is shouting instructions, listen and heed them. It’ll be because they are more experienced and however much like Froomie or Cav you think you are, you aren’t.
  • It is easier to get a gel or grab a bottle when you are near the back of the group. If and when you grab a drink, try not to look down as you replace the bottle on your bike.
  • Similarly if you want to clear your nose or throat out, check the wind direction and do it from the back. Nothing will endear you less to your new muckers than an assemblage of phlegm on their new Rapha merino wool top (other clothing brands are available although Rapha branded material could be said to be a legit target for bio-waste – this may not necessarily by HNCC policy ;-) ).
  • If you get a mechanical or puncture, shout it out. This will allow the group to come to a steady stop.

These aren’t exhaustive rules and there are a myriad of online articles you can check for yourself.

The British Cycling Insight Zone offers some great videos, posts and articles too.

Briercliffe 10 19/08/2014 – Report

The final Briercliffe of the season saw 15 riders lining up in Southall on a cool and blustery evening.

Of note were Stephen Oliver who improved on last week’s PB, and Jon Traynor who was riding in his 3rd Time Trial in 4 days. The fastest Nomad of the evening was Gavin Ashfield, who saved his best for last to achieve a course PB at the last time of asking for the 2014 Briercliffe series.

Clocks and number spotting were by Frank Turner & Meliné Fletcher, pushing off by Nigel Wilson. Finish line cabaret was performed by Meliné (Engine-ear, Motor wrist).
General start and finish support was provided by Leanne Cutler and Ethan, Ann Collins, a too late to ride Oscar Rielly and Mark Collins.

 

Report by Mark Collins

Nomads

G.Ashfield 23:36; B.Wilson 23:50; A.Herbert 24:12; N. Tooke 26:58; J.Traynor 27:07; D.Rickels 27:39; D.Summerell 30:21; S.Oliver 30:56
PTT’s
J.Moffat Virgin Active 22:51; T Weir 23:50 UoS; P.Gell 24:24 BRCC; L.Barral 24:57 Twenty3C; P.French 25:40; D.Ledgerton 27:31 TSE; J.Roots 29:01

Autumn series round 1 Report – 17/08/2014

There was a rather autumnal feel to the weather for the 9 riders who lined up for the first round of the Autumn series on Sunday. A strong south-westerly blew across the course on a cool morning.

Domestic bragging rights were secured by Jason Dynes who beat Leanne Cutler by 47 seconds. Whilst conditions weren’t ideal, Mark Desborough managed to post a course PB of 25:49 which also made him the fastest Nomad of the day.

The fastest ride of the day was posted by Jason Stuart of CC Ashwell who went round the course in an impressive 23:22.

Thanks go to that illustrious double-act of Turner and Smith who performed timekeeping and pushing-off duties with their inimitable style.

Tuesday evening at 6:30pm sees the final event in the Briercliffe series for 2014, whilst the Autumn Series moves to the Whitwell course next Sunday at 9am. A bit shorter than the Southill course at (9 miles) and a bit hillier.

Report by Nigel Wilson

Results:

Nomads: Mark Desborough 25:49; Jon Traynor 26:41; Nigel Tooke 27:21; Nigel Wilson 28:43; Jason Dynes 29:41; Leanne Cutler 30:28.

Guests: Jason Stuart (CCA) 23:22; Chris Pearce (Cambridge) 23:29; Lindz Barral (Twenty3c) 24:52.

BRIERCLIFFE 10 12/08/2014 – REPORT

Holidays and the earlier start time led to just a Baker’s dozen taking on the penultimate Briercliffe event of the season. Conditions were favourable again, dry and warm with a south-westerly wind helping from Ireland to Growers (Strava segment PBs were set).

Good enough conditions for four Briercliffe PBs tonight from Nick Senechal, Jon Traynor, Nigel Wilson and notably Stephen Oliver who sliced almost 3 and a half minutes from last week’s time. It was good to see James Cornell post a course season’s best too.

Ryan Witchell set the fastest time of the night albeit 30 seconds slower than last week. He was followed by Ben Wilson also in the 23s on his 50th Briefcliffe ride and Lindz Barral in the 24s which equalled his course PB exactly.

Stalwart timekeeper Frank Turner was persuaded to give his newly acquired tribars and frame a try despite the blustery conditions and is currently still coming up with an excuse for being 90 seconds slower than his non-aero ride!

Clocks and number spotting were by Steve Smith and Meline Fletcher, pushing off Nick Hickman (PB), creche Janice and Hannah Wilson, support Ethan and last but not least banter from Simon Young. Thanks all.

Last one next week, let’s make it a good one!

Report by Steve Smith

Results:
Nomads:
Ben Wilson – 23:45, Nick Senechal – 25:20 (CB), Jon Traynor – 26:12 (CB), James Cornell – 26:19 (CSB), Nigel Tooke – 27:02, Nigel Wilson – 27:39 (CB), Oscar Riley – 29:17, David Summerell – 29:20, Leanne Cutler – 29:40, Stephen Oliver – 31:22 (CB), Frank Turner – 36:03

PTTs:
Ryan Witchell (Univ. of Bristol)- 23:04, Lindz Barral (twenty3.cc) – 24:35

Beds Road CC 25 Report – 10/08/2014

Three Nomads set their alarms for an early wake up call to compete at the Beds Road CC 25 TT on the F1/25 course before the remnants of Hurricane Bertha blew in. The team (consisting Ben Wilson, Leanne Cutler and Nick Hickman) convened at the Stuart Memorial Hall in Tempsford to collect their race numbers and compare notes on their targets for the morning. Wilson was looking for a time quick enough to qualify for an event on a fast course in South Wales next month. A “long 56” would probably be enough. Cutler was hoping for a personal best. Perhaps less than 01:10:00 and, most importantly, not being overtaken by a work colleague riding for another club and setting off behind her. Hickman’s aim was to get a sub-hour on F1, which had been eluding him for a couple of seasons on both the regular and “B” course.

The team all set off within 20 minutes of each other, receiving the usual boisterous encouragement at the start from Timekeeper John Pick. Heading south on the A1 the weather was still fair but a block headwind to the turn at Baldock before the start of the motorway made for hard riding. Hopes of some assistance on the return leg were then dashed as the rain started and the turbines at Langford slowed right down while the wind dropped to almost a still calm.

The winner of the event was Simon Norman riding for the host club and completing the course in an impressive 00:53:40. Wilson was fastest Nomad on the day, with a 00:58:22. A new personal best but probably not fast enough to qualify for the Welsh event. Cutler finished on 01:12:24, missing out on her time target but achieving the second Nomads’ personal best for the day, and not getting caught by her work mate. She also took third position on the women’s podium. Hickman’s aim for a sub hour on F1 will have to wait until next season. He finished in 01:02:04.

While taking tea at the hall the heavens really opened and the general consensus was that “the weather wasn’t nearly as bad as it might have been”, and “hope the Nomads’ Club Runners and Ride London 100 competitors don’t get it too bad”.

The event was organised to the usual high standard by our friends at Beds Road CC.
Photographs courtesy Davey Jones.

Report by Nick Hickamn

Nick Hickman

Nick Hickman

Leanne Cutler

Leanne Cutler

Ben Wilson

Ben Wilson

Time Trials – Safety Notice – A Reminder of CTT Regulations

Please note the following guidance as set out by Cycling Time Trials, the governing body for the discipline in England and Wales. Full details can be found on the CTT site: http://www.cyclingtimetrials.org.uk/Regulations

Note – dangerous riding can and will be reported to the District and will, in most cases, lead to a ban.

Safety

When time trial courses are designed, safety is a major consideration. However, a competitor’s safety remains entirely his or her own responsibility. Events are held on open roads, and competitors must obey the relevant laws and the Highway Code before, during and after a race. Competitors must avoid creating situations that are unsafe for other road users.

There are a number of other points that will help everyone to enjoy safer racing:
Cyclists are less visible than most other road users. You should remember this when approaching junctions.

To improve visibility from the rear, race numbers are printed on a bright, reflective background. The number must be placed on your shorts from the waistband downwards, and must not be covered by other clothing. Your number cannot be positioned in the middle of your back, as with a runner’s number, because it would then face upwards when you’re in a riding position.

You should avoid doing U-turns in the road, both while warming up for an event, and after you’ve passed the finish. Drivers do not normally expect other road users to make this manoeuvre, which means it can be dangerous. It is CTT policy to eliminate U-turns from courses, and to reduce their use where they cannot be avoided.

You must avoid riding with your head down. Even on a Clearway, cars may stop for a variety of reasons, and the responsibility for avoiding them rests with the rider. In the event of a collision, the fact that the car was contravening the Clearway regulations will not be an excuse. A rider can expect a suspension from competition for any failure to watch where they are going.

Any road junction or roundabout can constitute a hazard in a race. You will often be approaching much faster than drivers expect of a cyclist, which can lead to errors of judgement on their part. Be ready for this. Care is particularly necessary at slip roads joining and leaving dual carriageways and other major roads, due to the long period when a cyclist can be between two lanes of merging traffic or exposed to vehicles leaving the main carriageway at high speed.

Awareness of Surroundings

(a)           Competitors must not wear head/earphones associated with audio equipment except hearing aids.

Briercliffe 10 Report – 05/08/2014

Warm & cloudy with a helpful breeze blowing from the south, perfect atmospheric conditions to slice through the air, or had everyone had 3 portions of a certain wheat based cereal? Out of 27 riders (25 rides, more of that in a minute), 7 records beaten. Well done to everyone.

Congratulations to Justin Layne of CC Ashwell for beating the course record for the second consecutive week. Welcome to Freddy Bulmer at his first 10m TT. His excellent time might have been even better if he hadn’t needed to reconnoitre the course first.

Nomads
B Wilson 22.58 PB; A Saunders 23.45 SB; A Herbert 23.57; N Hickman 25.07 SB; F Bulmer 25.28 (début); M Desborough 25.53; J Traynor 26.21 SB; N Tooke 26.33 SB; M Collins 27.02; Three Musketeers 27.14; K Todd 27.56; N Wilson 28.21; L Cutler 29.28 PB; S Smith 30.25; S Oliver 34.48

PTTs
J Layne, CC Ashwell 22.09 (new course record); R Witchell 22.34; T Weir, University of Swansea 24.00; L Barral, Twenty3C 25.43; W Richards 26.55; D Ledgerton, Team Sales Engine 27.02; C Corney 28.16; D Carter, CC Ashwell 28.17; K Carne, CC Ashwell 28.49; E Fredrickson 29.12

Playing fast & loose with my literary references, the Three Musketeers set the first ever time around the course on a 3-Seat Thorn. D’Artganan (Dave Rickels) on controls and steering. Milady De Winter (Meliné Fletcher) in the middle watching the clock and any traffic coming from the right. Porthos (Paul Riley) at the rear calling the gears, warning of traffic behind, coaching over the course and also managed to find time to measure me up for a pair of Nomads shorts!! Averaging 22mph with a max of 34.5mph and banking over at 45 degrees at the right hand bend through Old Warden. Truly awesome fun and with no practice to speak of. The Benchmark is set. Who’s next?

Huge gratitude as always to Frank Turner for timekeeping, ably assisted by Ann Collins. Thanks also to Simon Young for pushing off. However not even Skipper was strong enough to hold up the **Triplet, ** Trandem, **3-up (** delete as appropriate) so thanks also to Andy Stevenson for stepping in. Sue Clifford-Smith was on camera duty…watch this space.

Great to see so many turn out to ride and offer roadside support, including Jane Hickman making an appearance on her recumbent. The debrief at the White Horse in Southill might have gone one for some time if failing light hadn’t been the limiting factor.

Report by Melanie Fetcher