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.
Non-members of the club are welcome to ride with us, but our insurance now allows non-members only one ride per calendar year, other than our Century rides. If you like our rides and want to continue to ride with the CRW, we urge you to become a member. Membership dues of $15 per year support the CRW Rides Program and other club activities. Click to Join CRW. You canalso, join the club on the spot at the ride start, or we will ask you to sign a liability waiver form. You can fill out an online form before the ride.
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. Your helmet should be properly adjusted and secured.
You should be able to fix a flat tire and should carry a pump or CO2 cartridge, a spare tube and/or patch kit and tire levers. If you've never fixed a flat and don't know how to, consider taking a course. CRW offers clinics -- check the CRW calendar. Courses are also offered at local bike shops and the Appalchian Mountain Club. You may find them with a Web search on < Boston-area bicycle repair clinics >.
It's a good idea to carry tools to make minor adjustments. The basic tools required to fix most adjustments on modern bicycles are 4, 5 and 6 millimeter Allen wrenches, Phillips and flat-blade screwdrivers. A multi-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. An older bicycle may have parts that require 8, 9 and 10 mm end wrenches. Bicycle shops sell these tools; some are not to be found in a hardware store. Different bicycles require different tools, so it is useful to take your bicycle in to check which are needed. For more about the on-road toolkit, see https://www.sheldonbrown.com/on-road-repairs.html.
Carry some form of identification, along with the phone 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 to stay hydrated over the course of the ride. You can use either water bottles attached to the bike or a hydration pack, such as a Camelbak. On a longer ride, you might also bring a snack. Many CRW rides have a lunch stop, and our Century rides have rest stops with food, but you may want to refuel yourself at other times and places.
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 or joining the club on the spot if not a member, listening to the pre-ride talk, etc. Arriving late is not fair to the ride leaders and the other riders.
When there is a large group, 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.
|Arrowed||Our Century rides are arrowed, as are some 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 downloadable from the ride listings and you should be sure to take one as a safeguard in case you go off the route.|
Cue Sheets are lists of "cues" to follow when you ride. They generally follow the format below:
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 17+ mph depending upon terrain. Fitness rides offer 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.|
A GPS route file is available for these rides by clicking on a link in the CRW ride listing. GPS can be used in two ways:
|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
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 react quickly. 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.
Riding in Traffic
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 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. You must still turn your head to check to the side, though, because a mirror looks only to the rear.
For More Information
For more information on riding as a vehicle and other elements of safe riding, we recommend the free CyclingSavvy Essentials ShortCourse.