Riding with a cycling club or jogging with a running club is an ideal route to ramping up your fitness and connecting with people of common interests.
All groups — whether it’s your local racing team, a cycling club, or a running club — have rules of the road that riders or runners need to know when they join, says Peter Spencer, national project manager for Life Time Cycle in Chanhassen, Minn. Most teams and clubs post the rules on their websites for review.
“It’s important to follow club rules for your safety, for that of the people with you, and for the drivers or other pedestrians who are also on the road,” Spencer explains.
These safety and etiquette guidelines are specific to cycling, but they can translate to running clubs, too:
1. Wear the team or club kit, jersey, or shirt. “This not only shows unity and pride in being part of the group,” he says. “It promotes on-road visibility and helps everyone know who’s part of the group.”
2. Understand the purpose of the ride or run. Some are all-out “hammer” sessions, while others are “no-drop” affairs, meaning the group will wait for all participants to catch up when they fall behind. The leaders normally communicate this to the group — if they don’t, make sure to ask before you head out.
3. Obey traffic laws. This is important for the safety of riders and runners, for maintaining good relations with the community, and for upholding the reputation of the club. Ride or run single file on busy roads or trails, stop at stoplights and signs, use crosswalks, and obey all other traffic laws.
As the Lancaster Bicycle Club in Pennsylvania states in its road rules, “bicyclists fare best when they act like and are treated as operators of a vehicle.”
4. Arrive with well-maintained gear, including tools to independently fix a flat tire. Poorly maintained equipment can cause accidents that affect other riders.
5. Communicate when you’re on the road. Notify other riders or runners of “car up” or “car back,” and indicate your intentions with hand turn signals. Alert participants behind you of road hazards by pointing down at them as you go by.
6. Hold your line. No one wants to be around a sketchy cyclist in a group ride. This is especially important when you’re in the pack or cornering.
“Be predictable,” advises the rules of the League of American Bicyclists, a club founded in 1880. “Make your intentions clear to everyone on the road.”
7. Never cross wheels with another rider, and keep a light touch on the brakes. Abrupt braking can cause crashes.
The national Road Runners Club of America sums up its guide to etiquette this way: “Whatever the pace, wherever the race, manners matter.”
This originally appeared as “Etiquette Tips for Running and Cycling Clubs” in the June 2017 print issue of Experience Life.