OCC fully respects other road users and the Highway Code at all times. As a club, we want to give other road users a positive impression of cyclists, so always thank motorists when they have shown courtesy, patience or consideration.
When riding with OCC, please try not to respond to aggression from other road users. This can often escalate a situation, so though it may not always be easy, try to ignore. (If there is a serious incident, such as a deliberate act of aggression that endangers the safety of the group, try to take the details of the vehicle involved.)
Wherever possible, OCC rides two abreast. It’s safer to be smaller and more compact on the road. The Ride Leaders will dictate when the group breaks into single file (invariably only on busier roads or minor roads with bends).
OCC likes to keep a tight peloton. Endeavour to ride as close to the wheel of the rider in front of you as you can. The more compact the group, the safer it is on the road and the greater the slipstream benefit.
When riding on the front, keep the pace consistent and try not to surge or increase the speed unexpectedly. Be aware of any riders in the group who may be struggling if the pace increases and reduce the speed as necessary.
Conversely, do not decrease the speed suddenly or grab on the brakes. Endeavour to make your speed consistent and smooth and be alert to hazards ahead that may cause you to have to slow.
Stay level with the rider beside you. This is especially important if you are riding on the front of the group. Half-wheeling, when you edge ahead of the rider beside you and speed up if he/she draws level, is a definite no-no when riding in a group!
Do not wheel suck!! When riding in a group, it’s important not to shirk your responsibilities, so always do a pull on the front when it is your turn and don’t hide in the group.
Do not ride in the gutter or too close to the verge as there is a greater likelihood of picking up a puncture or encountering road debris.
How we rotate
When the two riders on the front have decided they have had enough (not a set time, but usually around 10 minutes/3 miles maximum) they signal to the rest of the group by pointing upwards and making a circular motion, with a call of “Rotate!”
The whole group rotates in an anti-clockwise direction, so the two front riders now sit in second and third position on the left hand side in the group. The two riders previously in the second and third position on the right hand side take their position at the front.
Moving into single file
If riding two abreast and there is a call to move into single file, ensure that there is space to do so and, if necessary, indicate that you are moving into the space. Riders on the inside should allow riders on their right to move into a space ahead of them.
Stopping and setting off
If the group has to stop for any reason, ensure you come to a halt in a place of safety (not on a bend or on a busy road, for example). Always try to group together in one area and not strung down the road and keep yourself and your bike off the road if there is a verge or pavement.
When the group is ready to set off, move off as one, ensuring everyone is ready (food wrappers put away/gloves on etc).
If the group fractures, for example after a climb or junction, drop the speed down and allow the group to reform. When everyone is back on a shout of “Hup-Hup!” or “All on!” from the riders at the back is the signal for the speed to increase. If people are held up for longer, then use discretion and stop the group if necessary.
OCC Shouts and Hand signals
COMMUNICATION is the key to riding safely in the group, so always stay focused and ensure that your calls are going to be audible to those cycling behind you and your hand signals are clear, so that they can be passed down the line.
“Car Up!” when a vehicle is approaching the group from the front.
“Car Back!” when a vehicle is approaching from the rear of the group and likely or impatient to overtake.
“Stopping!” should be shouted out when you have to come to a stop, due to a junction or an obstruction on the road and not if you are just slowing down. NB: If the rider in front shouts “Stopping!” then STOP! Do not proceed even if you think you have the time and space to do so. A shout of “Stop!” can also be accompanied by putting your hand up to head level.
“Slowing” when approaching a junction, traffic lights or a potential hazard such as horses or flood water. A shout of “Slowing!” can be used in conjunction with moving your hand up and down (as if patting a dog), which denotes that you are decreasing your speed.
“Clear Left” and/or “Clear Right” or “All Clear” when moving through a junction.
“Single Up” when a call is made by the Ride Leader to move from two abreast to single file.
If riders are being dropped, struggling to hold the wheel in front or have suffered a mechanical, a sharp call of ‘Hey!” will alert riders at the front of the group to slow down the pace.
A loud “Hup-Hup” or “All on” will let riders at the front know that the bunch has regrouped (following a climb or junction delay etc) and the speed can increase.
NB: It is imperative when cycling in a group that all hand signals are passed down the line.
Hand up – “Stopping!”
Hand up and down (as if patting a dog) – “Slowing down”
Point clearly to pot holes and debris, and if it is looks particularly dangerous, give a shout too!
Hand behind back, pointing away from verge – indicates to the riders behind you that you are moving out to avoid a car/pedestrian/road furniture etc. If signalling to motorists, use the normal hand signals (ie: right hand outstretched if moving out into the road to pass a pedestrian/parked car etc or if turning right.)
Hand rotating in claw shape – gravel or debris on the road (motion towards the gravel, with your hand rotating in a claw shape). Shout out “gravel” at the same time if it is a big patch or on a dangerous corner or descent.
It’s inevitable when riding in Oxfordshire that we will encounter horses on a regular basis. (The area around Lambourn, where we venture often, is the home of several race horse stables and these thoroughbreds are notoriously highly strung and nervous of cyclists!)
If you are on the front of the group and you see horses ahead, shout and signal to the group that you are slowing for horses and give the horse riders a loud shout to ensure they are aware of your approach. Pass slowly, but only once you are certain that it is safe to do so.
This is how the OCC bunch rolls. . . .