Going for a group road ride is a great way to get some exercise and meet new friends. Before you go, you should know some commonly used phrases that cyclists use to communicate with the group. Typically, one person calls out when they notice something the rest of the group should know about. Then, the call gets amplified as everyone repeats the phrase so the next sphere of bikers can hear.
This is probably the phrase heard most often when riding in a group. It means that a car is approaching from the back. Usually, the last person of the group notices a car behind them. They call out “car back” to the person in front of them, who repeats it to the next cyclist, and so forth until the call makes it all the way to the front of the pack. When you hear this phrase, be prepared for a car to pass you. If you are riding two abreast, shift positions such that you are in a single file line to the right hand side of the road.
Similar to “car back,” this phrase means that a car is approaching from the front. Typically no action is necessary, but it is important to be self-aware.
When you are riding with a group, you are often riding very close to other cyclists. It is important to let others around you know when you are slowing down. If you slow down to go around a curve or as you approach a stop sign, call out “slowing.” Typically, other riders will also slow down, adding to the chorus.
Similar to slowing, call out “stopping” when coming to a complete stop. This gives the group enough advanced notice for cyclist to unclip from their pedals, if they are using clipless pedals. This phrase may be accompanied by hand signals such as a cyclist placing their left hand on the small of their back, palm facing out.
Gravel is particularly problematic for skinny road tires. If there is just a patch of gravel to the side of the road, the riders will likely call out “gravel” and point to the patch, letting everyone know to ride to the other side. If there is no hand motions, that usually means that gravel is strewn across the whole road and extreme caution is advised.
Now you know the most basic phrases used to verbally communicate during a group ride. Get out there and have fun!
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