How to take part in a group ride

Meet like-minded people on a ride with your local group. Photo: Wayne Fox
Taking part in your first group ride can feel a little daunting if you’re not sure how to proceed. Cycling UK’s Julie Rand shares her top advice on getting the most out of group riding

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 of out of the experience.

Where do I find a ride near to me?

  • Look at the list of Cycling UK groups to find one close by.
  • You can also consult our UK Cycling Events guide.
  • Contact the local group to discuss the kind of rides they do – the chances are there will be a group locally that matches your requirements. If not, they may know of others nearby.

    Note: Cycling UK members are free to ride with any Cycling UK Member Groups anywhere in the country so contact them if you are nearby. Affiliate groups may charge a fee to join or have other entry criteria.
  • The group should have a ride or ‘runs’ list, either in print or on a website, with its upcoming rides. Some groups 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. Note that during the pandemic, you may have to pre-register as there could be a limit on numbers.
  • If you are not a formal member of the group yet, you should be able to come along for up to three times before being asked to join.

What is it like on a group ride?

  • You will have 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 with your emergency contact details.
  • Keep in mind they are a volunteer and listen carefully to any instructions. Let them lead!
  • He or she should explain any jargon and hand signals they may use to keep control of the group; however, you are responsible for your own safety.
  • 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 – never ride more than two abreast except when passing. Shout ‘Passing!’ if you do so.
  • Drop into single file on narrow or busy roads, unless it would be unsafe to 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 first.

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.
  • Bring a drink and energy bar plus a picnic or cash for lunch if out all day.
  • During the pandemic, a face mask and hand sanitiser are a good idea for café, loo or pub stops.
  • Good lights are essential if there is any chance of riding in the dark or poor visibility.

Top tips

  • Find your ride in Cycling UK’s events listings.
  • Let the ride leader know if you are new to riding or the group.
  • Listen to all instructions carefully and try to be on time.
  • Abide by the Highway and Countryside Codes.
  • Have fun and come back for more!