The Safety Letter

    Long time recipients of our email list have seen versions of this letter many times in the past. I would like to preface this year’s edition of the Safety Letter with a few new comments which are primarily directed to the newer TNR riders. I will plan to distribute some cards tomorrow night advertizing the blog for those individuals who are unfamiliar with it. The TNR is off to a great start for 2014. The groups have been big and enthusiastic, and will undoubtedly get bigger as the season goes on. A big group represents both a blessing and a challenge; the bigger the group, the greater the range of experience and abilities, and the greater the potential risk for conflict with traffic. I think it is important for everyone who comes to the Tuesday ride to be a part of the group and to have the opportunity to ride with other cyclists. The plan generally will be a fairly slow start and an attempt to keep the group together initially. Most weeks, especially when the group is large, we will try to designate a point in which we will have an A-group/B-group (maybe some weeks even a C-group) split. As the days get longer, the A-group will generally ride a little longer as well as faster. We are always happy to have volunteers who are willing to help lead and organize the B-group. There are a lot of positive things about bringing out a big group for the TNR. I think anyone who loves cycling has a responsibility to mentor newer riders and to support the local cycling community.
     I am a little concerned about traffic, especially after a couple of vehicles had difficulty passing us on Barney Dairy Road. The riders at the back of the group need to be aware of vehicles approaching from the rear and if the group needs to be aware of the vehicle or move over to let it pass, call out “car back.”  If you are in a group and hear a message moving forward or backward, good group etiquette requires you to pass the message along.  When you hear “car back” make sure it has room to safely pass.
     Our goal for the Rexburg TNR is to accommodate a range of experience and abilities. Safety has always been a top priority.
     Over many years of Tuesday rides in Rexburg, we have maintained an outstanding safety record with only a handful of serious accidents and injuries.  We have never had a mass pile-up. To keep a big group reasonably safe, there are a few issues of basic cycling etiquette and courtesy to keep in mind.
    If the group is riding in one line, ride in that line.  If there are two lines, ride in one or the other, not in between the two.  If there are two lines and you are on the left, at the end of your turn on the front drop back on the left.  If you are on the right, drop back on the right.  Don’t try to cross over.  Don’t drop back through the middle of the group.  When your turn is over, get out of the way.  If there is a single line, you generally want to drop back on the side which is more exposed to the wind.  If you don’t know which side that is, you are fine to drop back on the left.    
     The efficiency of a paceline comes from finding an optimum pace and maintaining it.  If riders accelerate every time they hit the front, the group expands and contracts like an accordion.  It burns a lot of energy for no good reason and lowers the average speed.  If you are in a paceline, accelerate gradually if at all (generally not at all) when you go to the front.  Don’t pull too long.  If you are slowing down, you have pulled too long.  A short pull at a constant pace serves the group much better than a pull that accelerates at the beginning and fades at the end.  Use common sense whatever you are doing.  Be aware of the riders around you.  Ask questions if you are not sure about something.
     Don’t cross (overlap) wheels with the bicycle in front of you unless you have to do so very briefly to avoid sudden braking.  (I am not talking about an echelon in a cross wind, which is a different situation).  Hold your line.  Don’t weave, swerve, or dart in or out.  Don’t brake suddenly.  If you are at the front and have to traverse a busy crossing like a divided highway, make sure the entire group is across before you resume speed.  Point out obstacles (potholes, road debris, dogs) especially if you are at the front. 
     If you believe your own riding is above reproach (mine is not) do what you can to help other people to be better riders.  There are many fine cyclists among the Tuesday riders, but for a group ride to be successful, you have to be able to trust every single member of the group.  The skills you develop riding in a group will improve every aspect of your cycling.                                                                                                                


No comments:

Post a Comment