One South Carolina Club's Approach to Group Rides
Me: I can think of no better way to spend a Saturday morning.
Also me: I can think of no worse way to spend a Saturday morning.
My lament on the subject, The Lost Art of the Group Ride, was published in September 1, 2011, and has been read hundreds of thousands of times since. It turns out that many of you also love/hate group rides. Bicycle safety, bicycle culture, and bicycle community are clearly reflected in local group ride ethos.
As we ride with various clubs around the country, Rachael and I are looking for models of how to do it right, or at least better than wrong. The Greenville Spinners in Greenville, South Carolina is one such model.
I spoke to Lewis McWhite, a Spinners Board Member and the C Ride Leader, about his club’s approach:
“Thank you for your inquiry about our weekly rides at SCTAC. We consider safety the top priority in our oversight of the weekly Spinners rides. We publish specific ride guidelines we expect everyone to follow, and try to have a ride leader (and sweeper if possible on big groups) that can help identify and address safety issues and keep the group on the announced pace/speed.
We do not have a formal “ride leader program”. It has always been a challenge to get people to step up and take the ride leader role for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s just that they think they always have to be out front and they may not think they are capable of maintaining that position. That is not really what we are looking for. Ideally, a ride leader is an experienced rider that is comfortable riding at different speeds, can accelerate to the front (or move to the back) as necessary to take control, and to identify and address unsafe riding practices or behaviors. They should also be the one to call the group to stop as necessary and identify when it is safe to start again. They also need to be able to identify any riders that are struggling or can’t quite keep up and potentially slow the pace as necessary, or give them extra time at a stop. They should also ensure that anyone that has a flat or mechanical issue is not left behind or alone if possible.
Fortunately, there are some that are “regulars” that enjoy the role and are good at it. As the board member responsible for the “C” rides, I try to reach out informally to friends and ask in advance or let them know I may be calling on them to step up as needed.
Here are the guidelines we publish for the general ridership for the SCTAC rides (and really any rides that the Spinners sponsors or initiates). We ask the ride leaders (who we require to be Spinners members in good standing) to follow, model and enforce these. I also ask them to report to me any situations or individuals that have violated or seem to want to ignore these.”
Country Loop Route Cycling Rules
Most of you are aware of and follow these road-riding tips. However it’s always good to be reminded of them and the cycling behavior expected on the Spinners SCTAC Country Route Rides.
- Obey all traffic laws.
- If you hear or see emergency vehicles approaching please stop and get off the road as quickly and safely as possible.
- Always have emergency contact information on you.
- The ride leader decides when to go and stop. Please respect the ride leader’s position and instructions.
- You must stop at all stop signs and red lights.
- Do not chase cyclists going beyond the posted group speed. This will break up the group.
- Regroup at stop signs and allow the people at the back of the group to get a drink or snack and catch their breath if needed.
- Listen and respect the ride leader and ride support volunteers. They are there to keep everyone safe and to ensure the posted ride pace is maintained.
- Never leave a stop sign or red light until the ride leader says it is clear to proceed.
- Stay to the right side of the yellow line at all times. Never cross the yellow line.
- Always ride no more than 2 abreast on the right side of the road.
- Be respectful of each other. Aggressive attitudes are not welcome.
- Call out and/or point out road hazards and traffic situations for others.
Car approaching from ahead = “car up”
Car approaching from behind = “car back”
Car passing group = “car passing” or “coming around”
Point out potholes/glass/rocks/gravel/sand or other hazards
Indicate turns or group slowing/stopping with hand signals
- No headphones or earbuds allowed.
- All riders must wear a cycling helmet.
For more information about the Spinners’ Rides, check out here.
Bike Law founder and bicycle crash lawyer Peter Wilborn has raced, toured, commuted, and ridden his bike daily for fun. In 1998, Peter had a bike tragedy in his own family, realized firsthand the need for lawyers who understand cycling, and devoted his law practice to Bike Law.