LeanIn Cornering presents another article in the BST© series.
One of the typical common tenets of group rides is relying on others to point out obstacles and inform riders whether the lead rider(s) are slowing or stopping.
Good idea? Perhaps. It depends on the group in question. Who are the riders in the group? Are they well known to each other? Are they consistent week in, week out participants. But most importantly, are they PREDICTABLE? If yes, yes and yes are the answers, then it’s probably a decent method to implement.
BUT…if some or many riders in a specific group are unknown quantities, perhaps only show up once in awhile and are unpredictable. Then follow that pied-piper scenario at your own PERIL…
I have learned many, many things over the course of 25 years of riding on two-wheels. If you can’t lead, then follow, BUT follow your own wheel…not the wheel in front. What this means is, utilize Situational Awareness (Anticipate. Recognize. React.) Be aware AND stay aware of what is going at every moment on the ride. When I am in a group ( and it’s not too often for some of these reasons) I remain at all times, ever vigilant. On a very recent group ride, with one particular rider highlighted, reminded me why this issue of awareness is SO important.
When riding, I assess all physical surrounding and immediate conditions; Road conditions, Weather conditions and Speed of the group. Do (all or most of) the riders hold a consistent and safe line? Does their speed ebb and flow too erratically? These are key indicators to observe and then assess.
I am constantly scanning the foreground, but more importantly the background of the road and my entire Field of Vision (FOV). I make sure that I am AWARE of any obstacles, the presence of animals on the side of the road and what the other riders are doing, (or not doing). By the time someone calls out an obstacle, potential hazard or animal I have seen it. Rarely do I miss something. Now this isn’t something of an egotistical statement, this is just part of my riding protocol. Being aware, being present but also focusing on the future. I.E. (the road ahead, the intersection 200 yards up, the driveways, the bends, the blind corners, etc.)
I am in control ( as much I can control a given situation or moment) I am taking responsibility for my own actions and reactions. I do not rely on anyone else to dictate my outcomes (if and when at all possible) Heads up riding or more appropriately, having and utilizing situational awareness is critical to a safe and efficient ride. Anticipating potential threats at every moment, will allow a rider to recognize said threat when it is encountered. Giving a rider possibly an extra half or full second to react to any situation.
By implementing these practices (along with the others we have talked about in previous posts) a rider can be ready for most whatever comes at them. If others cannot be relied upon to be predictable, then you must ride predictable and be accountable for your own actions, at ALL times.
Relying on others to make you aware of what is happening on the road or in a group is executing poor riding practices. Sure, having someone else do the thinking is easy just cruise along on ‘autopilot’… It is a lazy habit and a bad habit at that! 😉
One that could and will eventually cost you. Whether that is in the form of skin, blood, bones or machine. You will pay… 😀 The question is then, can you afford the bill?