When riding in a group you not only let the legs do the talking, but also your mouth 😉 Communication is important to ride smoothly and safely.
If you are in a group ride, you often have insufficient or a late insight into what is about to happen in front of you. For traffic coming from behind, the reverse holds true.
Signals are used to warn others in time.
Signals are not only called out, but are also indicated with gestures. Because sometimes cries are not heard, and gestures sometimes not seen, it’s best to use both.
Please note: be aware that signals are like any other means of communications, they can vary from country to country. If you are unsure what signals are used in your group, do ask an experienced rider in your group.
“In front” is called when something or someone is on or is about to come onto your own lane. Most likely, the group will veer a bit to the other side to overtake. Of course, you signal that, too.
“Oncoming” you call at oncoming traffic. Then you may need to move somewhat to the side of your lane or you have to weave. Also use a gesture.
NB you see the gesture of the left arm / hand swinging backwards that says, as it were: “Go behind me to the right side of the road”.
A common mistake is that the person who gives that gesture looks back to check whether the gesture is being picked up, and then diverts a little to the left and, moreover, does not look forward at that moment. Do not do that! You give the signal, continue to look forward and continue to drive a straight line. In the picture below the riders do that perfectly.
The country wise nation’s honor: in other regions is not only the language differently, but sometimes the gesture.
“Behind“ you call for example if a car would pass the group. Everybody knows that he or she must (continue to) ride to side of the road. It may be necessary to weave (do call “weave” or “single line”). Possibly the last rider signals the traffic behind.
See also: Other road users
“Weave” or “Single line” is called you if you ride side by side and you need to ride in a single line. For example, if the road is narrowing and there is oncoming traffic.
”Pole ” you can call for any obstacle. Even if it’s not a pole. 🙂 You also point at the object.
“Bit left” or “Bit right” call you want the rider in front of you to move a little to the left or to the right, for example, to form a better echelon.
‘The elbow signal‘ as a signal that the person behind you has to take the lead.
Two elbows is the signal that you are to stand up on the paddels en thereby your bike will come a bit backwarts.
“In between” you call when someone moves to the rear of the echelon and you want to have that rider move in in front of you.
See also: room to move
“Hold” when the group needs to stop or to ride very slowly. A call and a gesture! Because the slowing down can surprise the last ones in the group. You make a damping, or pumping downward motion with your arm. You may also raise your arm straight up.
Pass the signals along
It is important to pass these signals on to those behind you. Sometimes signals are called by the foremost riders and they are heard by the next in line. They are engaged in a lively conversation, and they forget to pass the signal on. Those behind them do not know what’s goint to happen and they will be unpleasantly surprised.
Don’t cry wolf
Don’t call or signal for any small hole in the road or three grains of sand in a curve, for example, when everyone can ride through it without problem. You soon will go crazy from all these unnecessary calls. And the distinction between signals that really matter and those that can be ignored rapidly fades away. Do limit yourself to what is really important, it will keep everyone more alert. Especially when ohter people can hear you, be selective in the shouting.
In an experienced group, or on a well-known stretch, everyone sees it coming when, say, there needs to be weaved for a blind curve. If everyone is executing it quietly and well in advance, there is far less need for signals, and the weaving goes automatically. As a group you ride much more controlled around all kinds of obstacles. The average speed remains high and you have fewer problems with the ‘accordion’-effect. In that sense, messaging, calling and gesturing, is Communication v1.0. Anticipating together without communications is then Communication v2.0.
Example: group in the hills
Observe the situational awareness. Signaling: “Stay behind”, “Slow down”, and so on. Using the full width of the road when possible. When entering a village, slowing down. Waiting on the sidewalk, and not on the road.
See also: Anticipation and slowly make changes