Recently, we have been speaking to the group before heading out on our group rides, to reinforce what the Beez are all about. As a reminder, we are a social group, with no pace goal for our rides, but with the clear rule to wait at strategic points and not to drop anyone (though anyone can opt to leave the ride/cut it shorter after letting us know). If you want to hammer out a strong pace without waiting, we would prefer you go on your own.
Rail Trail: This is a great option to get out of or back into town quickly. However, it can be busy with pedestrians and casual cyclists so please use good judgement when using it. A loose group of 5-8 of us, stretched out and going at a casual pace while being conscious of other users is fine. A bulk of 15 road riders going 40km/h is not.
We usually do not ride pacelines unless on the highway. For those situations, please note the following:
The Killer Beez is a social riding group rather than a gung-ho bunch of racers. We do not ride with the speed or intensity that requires a structured paceline most of the time. However, there are some basic rules that come from a racing paceline that we should be using as standard procedures to maximize safety and to spread the workload (not to ride faster); we should also use this when doing a paceline on the highway.
The Killer Beez always try to remember the mantra of “Do not pass on the right”. This is because you may get trapped between the cyclist ahead and a hazard at the side of the road. Also, the rider ahead is not aware of your passing attempt. However, riding in a paceline seems contrary to our most basic rule, because we pass a former leader on their right. So let’s try and clear up this contradiction:
Always ride as far to the right as possible (safety permitting), which is usually in a marked bike lane, or to the right of a white line painted on the right of a roadway (a shoulder). Leaders of Killer Beez groups will try to choose routes with such a lane or shoulder along the route.
Bicycles have the same rights as all other vehicles and are allowed to use the roadway (i.e. to the left of the white line) if a bike lane or shoulder is not available or is unsafe (due to debris etc.). But be careful because some drivers don’t understand your need for space in their roadway.
- Point to any hazards in the lane, plus call and signal any upcoming turns or stops.
- Don’t over-accelerate after a tight turn or climb because the riders behind are still going slowly and will get dropped.
- When ready to give-up the lead, check there is no traffic behind, move slightly to the left, give a ”flick” with your right elbow so the second rider knows to assume the lead.
- Ease off on your power slightly and “slide” to the back of the group. Note that you are “abreast” of other riders.
From the BC Motor Vehicle Act.
183 (2) A person operating a cycle……must not ride abreast of another person operating a cycle.
However if you checked the road was clear of traffic there should be no conflicts with drivers.
- Not all of our Beez are strong enough to take a pull at the front. If that is you, please merge back as described above.
When taking over the lead:
- DO NOT speed up.
- DO NOT change gears, unless really necessary.
- You should just feel a little more strain in your quads as you start to pull into the headwind.
- Don’t overdo your effort and rip the group apart.
- Listen for a call of “Gapping” from behind in case you start pulling away and need to slow down a little.
- Remember that you are now responsible to send back hand (and voice) signals to other riders behind you.
- If the previous leader rode faster or slower than normal for the group, try to reset to the normal pace.
- The length of time each leader spends at the front will vary for each rider. Don’t be a hog at the front. When safe, pull out, do an elbow flick and slide back.
In the paceline:
The pull rider will ride at a constant pace and therefore will not coast. In order for the whole pace line to stay together and maintain a constant pace, no rider should be coasting. If you must slow slightly, a soft pedal may become necessary, or even a slight use of brake while maintaining soft pedal.
To summarize: The riders are not really “passing on the right”. It is more a case of the former leader “regressing on the left”. This is quite safe because both the former leader and the followers are aware of that happening. Also, the roadway to the left should be clear of traffic and safe for the former leader to slide back.
The pace and structure of the group will change dynamically when climbing a hill due to the different speeds of each rider. A lot of passing will occur.
Our basic rule of ‘No passing on the right’ applies here as this is not a paceline situation. The steepness of the hill will determine when the group dynamic changes. Leaders are no longer sliding back, and strong riders are moving to the front.
Remember to keep as far to the RIGHT as possible, so that a stronger rider can pass on your left. If you are a slow climber, stay right. Other riders will pass on your left when they can safely do so. The onus of safety is on the rider that is overtaking.
If you wish to pass a slower rider, wait until it is safe to do so, and pass on their LEFT side. Call “On your left” (unless there is lots of room and the group is going very slowly). Then move to the right so that a faster rider can pass you.