How do I ride in a group confidently? Here are five tips I used to ride in the toughest group of them all, the Tour de France peloton.
I. The hips don’t lie.
Have a forward line of sight that goes just next to the the riders hips in front of you. If you are riding on the left of them, look just to the left of their hips, and the right, just to the right of their hips. 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. If they move left, you move left. If they go forward, you go forward, if they fall back, you fall back. Simple.
II. 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, or move up, or drop back in the group to find a spot with a clear exit line.
III. 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.
IV. Prepare to hit everything.
Yes, 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. Listen, 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. So relax and focus on the riding, not worrying about whether your crystal ball predicts a “man eating” rock ahead.
V. When in doubt, go straight.
When the sh&*t happens (and it will) just go straight. Always go straight. Your brakes work better when you go straight. Your tires grip better when you got straight. Most importantly, your bike absorbs bumps and things better when it goes straight. When you panic and deviate off to the side, suddenly all the things above don’t work anymore and the result is being off balance and susceptible to crashing. Most wobbles and crashes that start in front of you end up off to the side when they actually hit the ground. Don’t try to guess where they are going to crash or go, just go straight to be safe and secure.
There you go! Riding in a group made a CINCH. If you found this useful and would like to explore our coaching programs, please check out: