Although sometimes it can be a benefit to train alone, group riding can provide so many benefits. You will gain confidence in bike handling skills, you will meet so many other passionate cyclists, you will be taken on routes and to cafes you never knew about.
One of the benefits and skills you will learn within a group is drafting. Drafting is when you ride directly behind the wheel of the rider in front. By doing so you can use less energy and safe 27% of wind resistance. You can make your average speed look a lot more impressive.
Riding in a group may feel daunting at first, especially as most groups are dominated by men. But it's not a reason not to be part of it as most groups are very friendly and welcoming.
How to draft
If you are nervous about drafting for the first time, start with a small group. It's best to ride with more experienced rider that are not too much faster than you. You will need to ride about a foot away from the wheel in front.
Get to know the hand signals
Familiarise yourself with the hand signals that are used to announce hazards. Ensure you know what they mean and feel confident in instructing them.
Don't brake and drop off the back
You may feel nervous and want to break but don't! If you drop off the back you will end up yoyo-ing and using a hell of a lot of energy to play catch up. Remember that the goal is to always move forward. The best place to to be is behind the first rider. Others will see if you are struggling and help you out.
Don't overlap wheels
Always keep directly behind the rider in front of you. Make sure you don't overlap their wheel, this is generally when accidents happen.
Don't half wheel
If you do feel stronger that other riders in the group you make have the tendency to to push the pace and ride faster than the rider next to you. This is really bad etiquette, so always keep with the pace of the rider next do you.
Keep learning with group riding. You don't have to get it perfect first time. You will learn through practice and make more friends!
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