Tips for New Riders

Welcome to Tripleshot! We’re so glad you’re joining us for rides and coffee. Here are some tips to help you settle in and to keep you and other riders safe on the road and trails. Some of these overlap with some more general riding tips you’ll find on our website—but many of these are specific to new riders.

1) Introduce yourself as a new rider. People (especially those of us forgetful of names and faces) will sometimes assume that everyone in the group knows the route. But if you don’t know the route and they turn while you go straight, things get dangerous quickly. This is especially important for road rides. Make sure every member of your group knows that you’re new. For road rides, ask people to point out turns to you as they come, but also ask someone what the next turn is, even if it’s well down the road. It’s a friendly bunch, and most people are happy to give pointers to newbies and make sure you are looked after. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Declare yourself as “new” at least until you know the route. And always try to keep learning how to ride better.

2) Start in C (road rides). The C group is the slowest group, which makes it the best place to learn the basics of riding in a group. Even if you’re familiar with group riding, Tripleshot may do things differently than the last group you rode with. Best to learn the ropes before ramping up the pace. It’s not just your safety that’s at stake.

3) Come prepared. You should have front (white, non flashing) and back lights (red, non flashing) throughout the year for the 6 a.m. rides. Lights are optional in summer for rides starting later, but studies have shown that daytime lights protect riders. You should also have a spare tube, a source of inflation, tire levers, and any other tool needed to change a flat or fix a basic mechanical (a mini tool is a good idea). And you should know how to use them. Always wear a helmet, and bring a spare layer if there’s a risk of getting cold or wet. Bring water and snack if you’re likely to need sustenance. Make sure your bike is well maintained, for your safety and that of others.

4) Sit out sprints when you’re new (road rides). Sprints require bike handling, passing skills, and particulars of etiquette that you may not yet have or know about. Groups will always wait up and regroup after a sprint. Watch, learn, and ask questions. Don’t charge into sprints on your first few outings, unless you have real experience with them. If you choose not to participate in the sprint, just maintain your current speed and hold your line; do not pull over to the left or right, or you will risk causing a crash as others may be about to pass you.

5) No sudden movements (road rides). You should never hit your brakes hard, swerve, or accelerate unexpectedly. If you feel the need to do something unexpected, warn people around you first. Anticipate acceleration, slowing, and moves right and left by the group by scanning down the road for hazards that might force the people in front to change their line. If you see or hear a hazard (car back, pothole, gravel, door, car pulling out, etc.) that’s not obvious to others, call it out or point it out so that others can also avoid sudden movements. Always try to ride smoothly.

6) Keep clear of other people’s wheels (road rides). Never overlap wheels with the rider in front of you (sometimes called quarter-wheeling) while in a paceline. The rider in front can’t see your front wheel, and they may drift toward it before you have time to move away. If you touch someone’s back wheel with your front wheel you’re likely to crash, and you may take others with you. That said, don’t fixate on the wheel in front of you. Always be aware of how far you are from the wheel in front, but keep your eyes down the road. If something happens suddenly and you’re staring at the wheel in front of you, you’ll have no time to react.

7) Skip turns at the front (road rides). Or take a super short pull at the front if you’re struggling with the pace. New riders tend to feel the need to prove their mettle or be heroic by working hard at the front. But if you burn yourself out, that will slow the whole group down. Better to take it easy and preserve energy so you can last the whole ride. Also a rider “on the rivet” (going all out) tends to be less safe than a rider working at a comfortable level.

8) Communicate, communicate, communicate. Ask questions. Point out hazards. Let people know if you’re unsure about how to handle a situation or feel nervous about something. We’re all learning out here, even those who’ve ridden with Tripleshot for over a decade. And we all remember what it was like to be new. Oh, and call “Steady up!” if you need us to slow down a bit so you can catch up! Use your lungs and call it loud before it’s too late and you’ve drifted off the back out of earshot! No one wants to drop you, but everyone’s looking forward not back. So use your voice!

If you would like a ride buddy to give you some pointers on rides, or have questions, email tripleshotcyclingclub(at)gmail(dot)com.