Tips for social rides

14 February 2024
This is a crash course on social rides for all levels of cyclists. You are supposed to know this if you come to DBB rides, but also helpful for anyone who rides with any cycling club.

In season 2024 in addition to our weekly ride for anybody and everybody — DBB Coffee Ride — we’re adding the DBB Double Espresso, which is a bit faster and require at least some experience.

I. No experience required — DBB Coffee Ride — how to ride comfortably and not get dropped

The Coffee Ride is paced by a ride leader from start to finish. The group members keep behind him and each other — in one or two lines (files), depending on the road conditions.

The closer you are behind another rider, the easier it is for you to keep the pace — due to the lesser air resistance — and the difference can be huge! This, the draft, is the key to not getting dropped.

There is no need to be centimeters-close if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. About half a meter is a good distance that is safe enough, but also will let you have most of the aero benefit.
Cycling etiquette assumes the riders in front of you show potholes & speed bumps by hand signals — and you pass those further to those behind. However, this is not always possible.

If you don’t feel comfortable taking your hands off the bars, or if the rider in front of you skips signaling, consider shifting to the outside of the group by about half a meter.

That way, you’ll see obstacles far in front of you, and the cyclist behind will see signals of the front one, or at least will have more time to react to a pothole. There’ll still be plenty of draft.
If you see a sign for a speed bump — or the speed bump itself — don’t stop pedaling or brake. Remember that suddenly slowing down in the group, even slightly, causes chaos behind you.

Again, shift to the side, away from the other line of riders or from the curb in a single file, and hold onto your handlebar — you should be fine hitting that bump even at speed.

Try to not overlap your wheels with the rider in front. If it’s them who has shifted sideways, stay where you are to maintain the checkboard order — don’t squeeze them out!
After a corner or a traffic light the group will stretch. The ride leader shall be gaining speed gradually, allowing each of the group to catch up. Don’t rush, but also don’t hesitate.

When catching up, imagine you are a boat that wants to “moor” to the rider in front as soon as viable — but without brakes. Try to close the distance but do it without sudden changes in speed.

If you overshoot, try not to brake, but shift sideways more than half a meter. You will lose the draft and the air will slow you down softly — and the rider in the back will not run into you.
If you have a puncture, or just cannot keep riding at the pace of the group, don’t panic. Say loud and clear that you need to slow down — as soon as the ride leader knows, he will do just that.

Specific to the DBB Saturday rides — if suddenly everyone is accelerating, don’t feel that you must do that. We have certain segments where some push, but then they wait for everyone else.

If there is side wind, it may be difficult to keep the pace, as the draft is compromised. First, it’s easier to be in the line that is away from the wind. Also, you can try shifting a bit sideways from it.
II. Some experience required — DBB Double Espresso — how to go faster together, safe

The Double Espresso differs from the Coffee Ride ride in that:
• it is not strictly paced — the group rides as fast as it works for everyone,
• the route is not flat, which means both less draft on the uphills, and more speed on the downhills,
• due to the higher speeds, it is expected of everyone to show obstacles with hand signals.

This is still a social ride, which means that you are not necessarily expected to work in the front, and the group is not going to drop you. Again, if you’re falling behind, let us know that loudly.

You are supposed to know how to take pulls and rotate off. The most important in taking over a pull — do not increase the speed. Just glance at your speedometer and try to keep the number the same.
Before rotating off — if in pairs — decide with the one beside you, which way you go. Show your intention clearly with a gesture. Care to not overlap wheels with each other when shifting away.

Remember, the group is a cruise ship, and those who rotate off are little boats. The ship shall keep moving in a straight line and with the constant speed. It’s the boats’ job to go around it.
If, and as soon as (!), you see an obstacle that can cause a flat tyre or a crash (sharp pothole, deep crack, large speed bump, broken glass, etc.) signal to the respective side with your finger or elbow.

Also, if there is enough time and space, try to shift away from such an obstacle. Just gesturing is not enough if you then ride unnecessarily close next to it.

Don’t show small stuff with signals — too much pointing distracts from real dangers. If there is a risk of collision (car, pedestrian, parking post, etc.), point away from the danger behind your back.
Finally, don’t think that Double Espresso is something crazy fast. If the above seem clear to you, you should definitely try it — and then our weekday rides which are faster (and crazier on Thursdays).