Group riding is a super fun component of cycling, but it can feel dangerous and overwhelming.
Here are five badass tips that we learned to survive and perform in the toughest group of them all, the Tour de France peloton.
1. The hips don’t lie.
Have a forward line of sight that goes just next to the the riders hips in front of you. This allows you to look the perfect distance in front of you while being able to watch the riders hips with a mix of direct and peripheral vision at all times. ONLY react to their hips. Where their hips move, you move. Simple.
2. Ride off to one side of the rider in front of you.
This side needs to be the same side as a safe and clear exit for you. That exit can be an open field of grass on the right side, or an open lane on the left side. If your escape route becomes blocked with cars or “road furniture” then you need change sides of the wheel.
3. Use the front brake like a clutch.
This is to help you keep pedaling and smooth out your riding. Always keep your hand on the front brake and apply it gingerly (but keep pedaling into it). If they slow in front of you, apply just enough brake to slow and keep you in the same position in the group while continuing to pedal. As they accelerate to regain speed, just release the brake and keep the same pressure on the pedals. You will stay right in the same position without doing the surges like the rest of the group.
4. Prepare to hit everything.
Grip the handlebars tight enough and be in a strong upper body position so that you are able to hit every hole and rock that comes along. Your bike is designed to be able to hit everything. Stay relaxed and ready to just hit whatever comes your way. CHANCES ARE the rider in front of you will ride around what comes and you will do the same following their hips.
5. When in doubt, go straight.
When the sh&*t happens (and it will) just go straight. Your brakes work better, tires grip better, and bike handles better when you go straight. When you panic and deviate off to the side, suddenly you become off balance and susceptible to crashing. Wobbles and crashes that start in front of you end up off to the side when they hit the ground. Don’t try to guess where to go, just go straight.