How to cycle in a group

A group ride is one of the best ways to enjoy the benefits of cycling. Photo: Joolze Dymond
Do you ride with a group? Or would you like to? Cycling UK’s guide to group etiquette will show you how to get the most out of the experience

Joining a group ride is more than just a chance to make some new friends – there is no better way to find the best cycle routes, bike shops and cafés in your area. Whether with a local Cycling UK group or other cycling organisation, following an experienced ride leader with like-minded souls can enhance your cycling – and may lead to further adventures in the great outdoors!

Your fellow riders can also give you tips on fixing your bike, improve your fitness and riding style, provide moral support and even encourage you to try out a whole new style of riding. These guidelines will show you how to get the most out of the experience.

Find the right group ride

The first thing to do is find the right group ride for you. Consider such things as distance, speed, type of ride and even type of rider.

Cycling UK has hundreds of member groups and clubs across the UK, or you can consult our UK cycling events guide. Contact local groups to discuss the kind of rides they offer – the chances are there will be one close by that matches your requirements. If not, they may know of others that do.

Cycling UK members, whether full or affiliate, are free to ride with any Cycling UK member groups anywhere in the country so contact them if you are nearby. If you are not a Cycling UK member yet, you are entitled to ride with a group up to three times before being asked to join the charity and support our vital work on behalf of cyclists everywhere.

The group should have a ride or ‘runs’ list, either in print or on a website, with its upcoming rides. Some groups also use social media such as Facebook and Twitter. It’s a good idea to contact the ride leader first to let them know you are thinking of coming along.

What is it like on a group ride?

You will be following an experienced ride leader who will have a great route planned so relax and enjoy it. If you are new to group riding, let them know – they will keep an eye on you, or assign someone to do so. You will be asked to complete a guest registration form or signing-on sheet. Keep in mind the ride leader is a volunteer and listen carefully to any instructions. Don’t try to interfere with the ride – let them lead!

The leader should explain any jargon and hand signals they may use to keep control of the group. If you fall behind, don’t worry – your group should wait for you at the next junction or at the top of a climb.

Abide by the Highway and Countryside Codes and be considerate of other road users – you can ride two abreast and it can be safer to do so, particularly in larger groups or when accompanying children or less experienced riders. Be aware of drivers behind you and allow them to overtake (for example, by moving into single file) when you feel it is safe to let them do so.

Show courtesy to other road and trail users and be a good ambassador for cycling. Be alert to what other riders around you are doing and don’t get too close to them.

Shout ‘Slowing!’ or ‘Stopping!’ if necessary – smooth, gentle manoeuvres work best. Point out any road defects or other hazards to others. If you wish to leave the ride, let the ride leader know.

What should I bring on a group ride?

Any appropriate bike in good working order. If in doubt, have it checked over by a local bike shop or qualified mechanic. Carry at least a spare inner tube, pump and tyre levers.

Dress for the weather and bring a spare layer; a waterproof that can be rolled up and kept in a pocket is a good idea whatever the forecast.

Bring water and some snacks to ensure you stay properly fuelled, plus a picnic or cash for lunch if out all day – it’s a good idea to find out if there will be somewhere to buy lunch from the ride leader.

Good lights are essential if there is any chance of riding in the dark or poor visibility.

Top tips

  • Find your ride with one of our member groups
  • Let the ride leader know if you are new to riding or to the group
  • Listen to all instructions carefully
  • Abide by the Highway and Countryside Codes
  • Have fun and come back for more!

Could you be the ride leader?

Once you have been riding with a group for a while, you might think you'd like to have a go at leading a ride yourself. It is easier than you think, as long as you follow the guidance set out in our Ride Leader Toolkit

We also have a free online ride leader training course aimed at people who ride with our member groups throughout spring 2023 so have a word with your group secretary to find out if you would be eligible for it. 

Remember that being the ride leader usually means you can plan the rides you would most like to do yourself!