After viewing the pros race at the recent Tour of California, I was reminded how much skill it takes to ride in the peloton. It’s been a while since I rode with the boys and watching them cruise by at 40-60kph within inches of each other was impressive.
As a newer rider, one of the most intimidating aspects of participating in a Gran Fondo is riding safely in the group. You’ve got to follow a few simple rules in order to be a safe group rider:
1) Ride predictably – try not to make quick or sudden moves that will cause a chain reaction behind you.
2) Keep your fingers close to the brake levers – if you need to brake, simply squeeze gently on both levers with even pressure on both. Avoid sudden braking by looking ahead and anticipating what is happening in front of the group you are in.
3) Keep your cadence in the 90 RPM range so you can easily adjust your speed up or down – adjust your gearing for the terrain BEFORE you need to by looking ahead. Get used to changing your gears, WITHOUT LOOKING down!
4) Do NOT overlap the wheel of the rider in front of you – focus on looking ahead of the group you are in and use your peripheral vision to gauge the distance to the wheel in front.
5) Point out (and yell if you have to) when you see a dangerous object on the road in front of you.
6) Stay focused – 100% concentration is needed to continually scan the road ahead of you watching for any situation that could cause problems.
Finally, if you feel up to it, take a turn at the front to help the group along. No one likes a wheel sucker and after all, if everyone does their bit, you will all roll along faster to your destination.