Riding with a group of friends gives you a chance to explore new routes, gain experience and make new friends. Before you head out on the road, there are a few things you should think about to make sure your trip is as enjoyable and safe as possible.
Organising the group
It’s unlikely that everyone in your group will have the same level of experience and ability. Danger tends to arise when less experienced riders feel they have to ride faster or above their ability to keep up with the group, so it’s important to ride with a group of similar ability to you.
Holding a riders’ meeting before you set off is a good idea so you can agree the route, where you’ll stop for fuel and rest stops, and hand signals to use while you’re riding. Choose someone to take the lead and another rider to be the sweep (tail) rider. These should both be experienced riders who are used to riding in groups; it is important that the lead rider sets a pace that is safe for the whole group.
Ideally, a group should consist of no more than 5 riders. If you have more riders, it’s best to split into smaller groups. Slower riders should ride at the front of the group so nobody gets left behind or has to ride beyond their ability to keep up.
Riding in formation
Use a staggered formation when you’re riding: one rider takes the right-hand third of the lane, the next takes the left-hand third and the one behind is in the right-hand third again. You must ensure you leave a safe gap between riders and avoid riding side by side because this gives you too little room to avoid hazards.
On national speed limit roads or twisty roads with limited visibility, you should ride in single file before forming the group up again when the speed limit lowers.
Looking after the group
Always keep an eye on the riders around you, remember keep a safe gap at all times and if you see someone falling behind, slow down to let them catch up again. When everyone in the group does this, it helps to keep the group together and maintain a steady speed
Do not panic if you get separated from the group: there should be an agreed way to get the group back together. Do not try to ride faster than you feel comfortable doing, or over the speed limit, to catch up.
At least one rider in the group should carry a mobile phone, first aid kit and toolkit in case of problems.