GRCC Group Ride Basics

(or...what you need to know about the basics of group riding)

Safety is our first concern so, above all, be predictable and never make sudden or unexpected changes of pace or direction when in a group formation. Always consider how you might affect the rider behind you.

Group Ride Formats

The group rides a 1-up single line or 2-up pairs and re-assemble to the formation after each climb or descent where the formation may be lost. The leader may call out "1 UP" or "2 UP" as appropriate to the road or ride conditions to get the group to re-form.
Important: We never ride more than 2 wide, with the exception of while a rider is drifting back or passing the group.

We also always ride "tight" close to the right-hand side of the road at all times, freeing up as much space on the road for other vehicles to pass safely and so that we do not irritate drivers.  

"1 UP" means a single line of riders, each taking their turn at the front, dropping off the line by moving out of line to the RIGHT side only, and drifting to the rear of the line to rejoin. All line riders will flow by the fading rider as they maintain the pace.This is referred to a Right Fading Echelon method and better protects the "fading" rider from traffic. To maintain constant pace, if you can't hold the current pace when you reach the front, forget your ego and move to the right immediately and drift to rejoin at the back.

"2 UP" means a line of paired riders, the left rider dropping off to the left, the right rider dropping off to the right. Pairs usually leave the front together to maintain pairing. If the rider ahead drops out without his partner, move up and shuffle to keep a paired formation. Above all, hold the group's pace and leave the front before your pace drops. 
Here is the basic process: Each pair pulls off the front sharing the workload with the others. To peel off , the rider on the right moves right, the rider on the left moves left, reducing their speed gently to let the others pass. The pair who has been following slice through the pair to take the lead with the rest of the group in their slipstream. The two who have just finished their turn on the front, move back into the slipstream at the back of group rapidly to avoid being in the way of the traffic for long.

Within the group, riders should always be paired up. Two abreast is acceptable, three is not. In an odd numbered group, the single rider sits at the back. Each rider has his or her turn being alone at the tail-end. In a group, everything is shared.

DOs & DON'Ts 

  • DO ride unnecessary sudden braking or accelerations. This keeps the group safe and together

  • DO signal all obstacles and road furniture. It is every rider's responsibility to use hand signals and shouts to alert the rider behind .. not just the leader.
    (see Signals and Shouts section below on this page)

  • DO ride 1 or 2 up , whatever is the current group formation, except to pass or drop back. We never ride 3 across or more.
  • DO NOT pass riders on the right! Pass only on the left when it is safe to do so, slowing down as required, and audibly alerting the rider with an "On your left!" shout.

  • DO keep a 1 ft to 2 ft gap between you and the rider in front. This will allow you to take advantage of the draft available from the rider ahead.

  • DO NOT overlap your front wheel with the rear wheel of the rider ahead when in line. If you touch you may "stick" and then fall when separating.

  • DO NOT ride in another rider's blind spot (to the side and behind). We are not racing and this risk is not worth taking.

  • DO keep in line behind the rider in front. If you are in a lead position, hold a steady line.

  • DO obey the rules of the road, stopping for all red lights and, at a minimum, the group will "stop, check and go" at all stop signs.
  • DO NOT squeeze between two riders to get ahead. This is the equivalent of riding the blind spot and passing on the right. We are not racers and this only increases the chance of a group accident.

  • DO enter a roundabout in single file. Watch for vehicles changing lanes and stay in the right side of the right hand lane in single file.

  • DO NOT challenge drivers and cars whether you consider you are right or not. You are riding with a group and should not increase the risk to the rest of the riders by aggravating vehicle drivers.

  • DO ride in the right hand half of the right lane, when it is safe to do so, and keep the formation closely together, thereby minimizing our profile on the road at all times.

  • DO wear appropriate riding Gear: It is not cool to show up for a Grand River Cycling Club group ride in kit from other local clubs or bike stores. Be the club.

Hand Signals & "Shouts"

Every rider is responsible for knowing and using the appropriate hand signals and "shouts" that are used to alert the rider behind of obstacles or dangers. If the rider ahead uses a hand signal to alert you to a hazard, you must immediately do the same for the rider behind.

Hand Signals

  • Slowing for stop: Right (or left) arm and hand downwards, palm back. 

  • Railway tracks ahead: Pass your hand behind your back twice (2 rails).

  • Obstacle, trash or Pothole on the road: Point down in the direction of the obstacle. 

  • Right Turn at next intersection: Right arm out straight. 

  • Left turn at next intersection: Left arm out straight. 

  • Leader signal: Switch to One Up formation: Hold up 1 finger in the air.


  • Car approaching from behind: Yell out "Car Back!" 

  • Car approaching from ahead (on narrow road): Yell out "Car Up!" 

  • Gravel or sand at a corner: Yell out "Gravel!" 

  • Group slowing unexpectedly: Yell out "Slowing!" 

  • Group stopping unexpectedly: Yell out "Stopping!"

  • Pothole or dangerous obstacle on road: Yell out "Pothole!"

Please be forewarned. If you are not prepared to adhere to these rules, especially in the faster groups, you will be asked to leave the ride. 

Our first priority will always be the safety of the group.