Rider Guidelines for Charles River Wheelers Rides

This information is for riders new to the club or new to group riding, and describes what to expect on our rides, and what is expected of riders. Riding in a group is very different than riding on your own or with a few friends, and we ask that you pay close attention to the recommendations below. We wish to increase your enjoyment of the ride as well as promote safe riding.

CRW Safety Policy

The CRW promotes safe, courteous, and lawful cycling practices. CRW members are expected to cycle in a safe, courteous, and lawful manner when participating in CRW rides, and to encourage the same among fellow members and CRW guests.

Before the Ride

Read the ride announcement carefully and make sure that you are prepared for the distance and terrain as described. Contact the ride leader if you have questions.

Make sure your bike is in working order. Check that there are no loose parts, the brakes work, wheels secure, and derailleurs work. The tires should be inflated to the stated specifications.

Helmets are required on CRW rides. They should be properly adjusted and secured.

You should be able to fix a flat if you have one and should carry a pump or CO2 cartridge, a spare tube and/or patch kit and tire irons. If you've never fixed a flat and don't know how to, consider taking a course such as the AMC Bicycle Repair workshop, or courses offered by local bike shops.

It's a good idea to carry tools to make minor adjustments,. The basic tools required to fix most things on modern bikes are 4,5 and 6 millimeter Allen wrenches and 8, 9, and 10 millimeter wrenches. A universal tool, available at your local bike shop, has all these, as well as a chain tool, which is very handy to have should your chain break.

Carry some form of identification, along with the number of someone to contact in case of emergency. If you have a cell phone, you can program that number under the name ”ICE” which responders are trained to look for. It is also useful to bring along your health insurance ID, some money and a credit card.

Bring sufficient water or energy drink to stay hydrated over the course of the ride. You can either use water bottles attached to the bike or a hydration pack, such as a Camelbak.

At the Ride Start

All our rides have one or more start times listed in the calendar. This is the time that the ride will actually start, i.e., riders leave on their bikes. You should plan on arriving at least 15 minutes before the start time to allow time for assembling your bike, signing the release form if not a member, listening to the pre-ride talk, etc. Arriving late is not fair to the ride leaders and the other riders.

Pay close attention to the ride leader’s pre-ride talk. It often conveys essential information about the ride.

When there is a large group, the riders will be staggered. The ride leader will generally announce that the faster riders should leave first with others to follow in stages. Please cooperate so we can achieve the desired result of spreading out the riders.

Ride Types

Ride Type Description
Arrowed Our Sunday rides from April to November are all arrowed, as are many of our other rides. By "arrowed" we mean that there are markings, often in the shape of an arrow, on the ground before each turn indicating the direction the ride goes. There are at least two such arrows before each turn, and one confirming arrow after a turn. Cue sheets are also available and you should be sure to take one as a safeguard in case you go off the route.
Cue sheet
Cue Sheets are lists of "cues" to follow when you ride. They generally follow the format below:
 
Leg Total Turn Road
3.0 12.0 R Main St
4.0 16.0 L Elm St

The "3.0" is the distance from the previous cue and "12.0" is the cumulative distance from the beginning of the ride. There is a right turn onto Main Street. You then travel 4.0 miles to the next turn, which is a left onto Elm Street.

Cue Sheets work especially well if you have a bicycle computer, which displays the distance you have traveled.
Fitness Fitness rides are scheduled on a recurring basis and utilize the same routes for each ride. These rides are intended for intermediate to advanced riders who wish to improve fitness and riding skills. Riders typically average +17mph depending upon terrain. Fitness rides offers you the opportunity to ride in a group with others of the same ability level in a paceline format. Groups are generally organized by route distance and average speed. Fitness ride routes are usually arrowed and cue sheets are often also available.
Follow the Leader These rides try to keep all riders together in a single group with the leader providing occasional directions on where to go. These tend to be shorter rides, with smaller groups, and at relatively slow speeds. Follow-the leader rides may or may not be arrowed, and may or may not have cue sheets and/or maps.
GPS

A GPS route file is available for these rides from the RideWithGPS site (RWGPS). GPS can be used in two ways:

  1. Download a GPS file to use on a Garmin or similar device (on the CRW ride page, click the download link, or click the map to go to RWGPS and go to the EXPORT tab)
  2. Use your mobile phone and the RWGPS mobile app for navigation. You must join the CRW club account and select the ride from the club account list of rides.
Introductory The focus of Introductory Rides is on group riding, safety, and cycling technique. Skills development coaching and post-ride clinics are sometimes offered. These are more casual rides for those new or getting back into cycling, and who are interested in learning about group riding. The rides average 10 to 12 miles per hour, and all riders are kept together in a single group.

Riding in Groups

Signal turns, slowing/stopping and road hazards. Signal a left turn by extending your left arm horizontally out. Signal a right turn by either extending your right arm horizontally out or by extending your left arm out from the shoulder and up at the elbow. Signal stop or slow down by extending your left arm pointing downward with the palm facing backward. Reach out to the side and point to the road to alert others of a hazard. Use hand signals only when it is safe to remove one hand from the handlebars. Alternatively, call out hazards, such as "pothole," "runner up," etc., announce turns by calling “turning left” or “turning right”, and announce slowing/stopping by calling out “slowing” or “stopping”. Pass other riders only on the left, and announce your intentions by saying “passing” or “on your left”.

Maintain a safe distance between you and other riders, and adjust the distance between you and other riders depending on terrain and speed. On downhill at high speed, it is especially difficult to slow down or to stop, and you should maintain a significantly larger gap. Unless it’s an emergency, slow down gradually and give plenty of advanced notice. Don't stop short in front of another rider.

Riding in a large cluster increases the risk of crashes and makes it difficult for motorists or other cyclists to pass. Try to break into smaller groups (4 to 6 at most). Motorists can more easily pass a smaller group.

Do not use a portable music player, like an iPod. It reduces your awareness of traffic and your ability to hear signals and warnings from other riders. In fact, it makes little sense to ride with a group if you are going to completely ignore everyone else while listening to music.

At all times exercise civility on the road, even when motorists are less than gracious. Motorists notice courtesy, and it helps make the roads safer for all cyclists.

When riding in a group, it is not a good idea to use aero bars, since this reduces your ability to quickly react. Similarly, riding on aero bars on rough pavement is risky since you have a lot less ability to avoid potholes or to recover after hitting one.

Paceline Riding

When riding with a group, you will find that riding closely behind another rider greatly reduces the effort you have to expend. This is known as "drafting" and a group of riders drafting each other is called a paceline. Participate in paceline riding only if you and the other riders have the necessary skills. Always ask permission before drafting another rider.

When in a paceline, ride in a predictable way, without sudden swerving or slowing. Scan the road far enough ahead to have time to avoid hazards gracefully. If you can't gracefully avoid potholes, ride over them.

When riding in a paceline, do not ride with your front wheel ahead of the back of the leading rider's rear wheel. If the front rider swerves or turns, you will likely crash.

Riding in Traffic

Announce the presence of overtaking or oncoming vehicles by calling out "car back" or “car up”, respectively. When you hear this, get into single file and move to the right as quickly as you can safely do so. Slow down a bit to allow riders on your left to pull into single file. It does not matter where you are in relation to the car or the group, you should take action immediately.

Never call out “clear.” It is each rider’s individual responsibility to verify that the traffic conditions are safe. What is safe for the person in front of you may not be safe for you, and you are responsible for your own safety. Proceed across an intersection only when you have determined that it is safe to do so..

Be aware that a passing motorist could turn across your path at an intersecting roadway or driveway.

Be aware of other vehicles and try not to obstruct their progress unless safety considerations dictate otherwise. On quiet roads with little traffic, you can ride two abreast, but you should pull into single file whenever a motorist approaches. Each member of the group is responsible for being aware of traffic and being considerate.

Many riders use a rear-view mirror, either a small one attached to the rider’s helmet or glasses, or a handlebar-mounted one. Being able to check traffic behind you with the help of a mirror is good safety practice. Looking back, however, can be more reliable since using a mirror creates blind spots.

For More Information

For more information on riding as a vehicle and other elements of safe riding, refer to John Allen's excellent guide "Street Smarts".