Room to move

A group runs most efficiently when everyone rides close together. But in doing so you still need room to move. For example: The wind comes from the left, so you’re to the right of the rider in front of you. If the road then sightly leads to the right. The group as a whole will tend move towards the right and if you’re not careful you’ll be forced into the shoulder. The same happens if there’s oncoming traffic, and the group moves to the right in response to that.

Look ahead
You can anticipate many of these situations. You can avoid potential problems by ensuring that you do not get stuck in a rut, so to speak. You move back slightly so that when the rear wheel of your predecessor moves to the right, it moves in front of your front wheel, and it does not clip your front wheel.

No overlap
At the end of a ride, a group may loose its close formation, and riders deviate more from their line than at the start of the ride. If you don’t let your front wheel overlap with the rear wheel in front of you, there’s no cause for concern. No matter how much that rear wheel moves laterally, it will not clip your front wheel. That’s not only reassuring for you, but also for the ones riding behind you.

When riding in an echelon, especially with crosswinds, you tend to ride with overlapping wheels. You can have reasons to not riding so closely together, creating some room to move (and precious reaction time), but still keeping the advantage of being on the lee side, though a little farther away.


Using the full width of the road

Using the full width
When riding in a crosswind, you form an echelon: you ride diagonally behind each other, keeping each other on the lee side. Except the one up front, but he or she likes to pound against the wind, right?
If the road is clear and there is no traffic in front or behind you, you can use the full width of the road, from shoulder to shoulder. Or the entire lane in case of solid white line. That way, more riders can profit from the echelon.

Keep front and back in check
When you’re using the full width of the road, is’t not without risk. It is important that you always know what is in front and behind you. In particular, the rear rider best look back in order to check the situation. But it does require skills: keeping your line while looking behind you.
See also: keeping your line
See also: room to move

By checking the conditions on a (very) regular basis, you can form a single line in an orderly fashion well in time.
See also: Weaving
See also: Anticipation

Blind curves

Preventive weaving
As the road meanders through the countryside, vegetation or buildings may keep you from looking ahead. You may then have a blind curve ahead for you: you cannot see any oncoming traffic, or even the next stretch of road.
If you’re on a narrow road when that happens, it’s not smart to stay riding side by side. If there is an oncoming vehicle, it’s a hassle to weave quickly. It’s much better to weave beforehand. You thus anticipate on possible oncoming traffic. If there is no oncoming traffic, it was a superfluous weave, but that’s no problem, right? Better be safe than sorry.
You give with signals that you want to weave. You call “Weave” or “Single line”. You can also give signals about what you want your fellow riders to do: ride before me or ride behind me.

In blind curves, you can also send a scout: someone who rides a few meters in front of the group and, when needed, signals in time. Those in the group will than have ample time to respond. The group must not catch up with the scout, as the group then looses valuable reaction time.

To wait
If your group wants to overtake another rider or group, it may be better to wait until you’re past a blind curve. You then have a clear view of the road.

Looking further ahead
When you encounter a blind curve to the right, it may be useful to start riding on the left hand side of the road well before that curve. You can then better see what comes after the curve. You must, however, be able to return back to the right hand side on the road quickly, in case that is needed. While you’re riding on the left hand side, it is important that no one starts riding to the right of you, as you will then be unable to return to the right hand side quick enough.


In a group, you usually ride side by side, or even with more people if there is enough space. When you then encounter oncoming traffic on a narrow road, you should make your group more slender. Rather than riding side by side, you start to ride behind one another. In other words, you weave.


Weaving in the right way

Of the first pair, the one riding on the right speeds up, and thus makes room behind him, so the one on the left can tuck in behind him. Then, the following pair does the same, and so on. In this way your are weaving ‘away from the danger’ and thus creating more time to get in a single line that if left goes over right.



Signals and coaching
You need to give a signal that you need to weave. You call “Weave” or “Single line”. Or you might you call “Oncoming”. You may also make gestures, so  that your fellow riders know what to do.
See also Signals

Note: The natural reflex, both riders braking, is not correct. You loose reaction time, you cannot create the required space for tucking in in time, and you may get those behind you in a fix as they now have to brake and maneuver at the same time. Those further down the group may even be forced to stop.

The ones riding on the right should only be concerned with accelerating, and thus make room behind. The others will then resolve further things.

This proper reaction should be trained. It is important to coach each other. That could be with words, or with hand signals. It’s important to train both. Once you have that part down, you may quicken making room by having the one on the left push the one on the right forward. Do take care that one one on the left doesn’t loose his or her speed while pushing.

If you drive on a public road in a echelon and you have to weave,
it may be that the echelon of six for example has to go back to two or three riders diagonally next to each other. Actually it becomes a series of small echelons. It is then convenient or social if a stronger rider takes the lead position in one of the following small echelons, instead of a weaker rider one who ends up there by chance. Unless you, as a stronger rider, choose to stay out of the wind as much as possible 🙂


Anticipate without sudden movements

You ride differently in a group compared to riding on your own. If you ride on your own, and there is a puddle or a pot hole on your path, you steer around it. If the road is narrow and you need to make room for an oncoming vehicle, you can quickly move to the side.

If you made these movements just as quickly in a group, there is a fair chance that someone behind you will be surprised. In the worst case, withe a crash as a result. In any case, it makes riding in a group erratic.

botenLook ahead and change slowly
The trick is to look well ahead of you for changes in direction or speed and then execute these changes slowly.

On the open waters, there are differences between large and small boats as to how quickly they can change direction or speed.

As a cyclist, you are on your own more like a speedboat, as a group more like an oil tanker.

In a group, you’ll find yourself riding through rather than around puddles a whole lot more than on your own. Because you don’t want to make it too dangerously for the ones behind you. It’s better to be a bit wet then to be a liability.

Most often, changes in direction are also notified by signaling.
See also Signals

In a group you take much more time for stopping than when riding alone. Of course you signal that you’re stopping.

If you anticipate possible changes, you then have time to change slowly and you will find that the group will maneuver around various obstacles much more fluently. The speed remains higher and you have fewer problems with the ‘accordion’ effect. Also, there’s a lot less screaming and shouting, and your group will ride in a nice kind of flow.
If you’re at the rear of the group, it is easier to anticipate on what’s going to happen by looking forward through the group. Just looking at the rear wheel of the rider in front of you is literally being shortsighted :).