Mountain biking a great way to exercise and experience the outdoors. Ride with your friends is even better. Of course, there are some tricks to keeping your group ride on the straight and narrow, other wise it will crash and burn.
When riding as a group it is important to remember etiquette, safety and communication needs are different than if you hit the trail alone. Let use help you navigate the in and outs of group riding so you can navigate the trail.
1. Design the ride for everyone
It sounds like common sense, but your group ride must be suitable for everyone. There are times when you want to challenge the weak link and force it to rise to the occasion – this is not one of those times. Your ride needs to be designed to allow the least experienced, weakest rider to complete successfully. This may mean dropping the pace, bypassing a few obstacles or have the stronger riders wait to hit the harder trails alone.
2. Have a plan
Prior to hitting the trail there should be a ride plan and everyone should know what that plan includes. This will be where you decide which trail the group will utilize, rest stops along the way and what to do in an emergency.
3. Stay together
Again, a no brainer, right? Well, you would be surprised how many “groups” leave the lot together and straggle in throughout the afternoon. What is the point of going as a group is the stronger riders, or those who are not interested in specific sights, leave the others behind and go their own way? If pace is a problem, see Rule #1.
4. Have a communications plan
Regardless of who is setting the pace or what members of the group do to stay together there are times when someone may become separated. Maybe they took a wrong turn, had difficulty with an obstacle or suffered a flat. Or maybe they were hurt along the trail. Either way have a means to communicate is essentials. Some riders will use smartphones, which can be equipped with Apps that follow individual progress, while others will rely in spotters along the way. But one of the easiest way to communicate is a long range two way radio or personal band radios.
5. Carry extra supplies
Riding alone sometimes means deciding what to take along and what to stow in the car. Do you take an extra innertube or patch kit? Is there room for a snake and water or only the water? One of the advantages of a group ride is you can share the load. Each person should be designated to carry, in addition to personal needs, a “for the good of the group” item. This could include parts, first aid kits even tents for overnight trips.
When you think about it the etiquette of the group ride is not that different than that of any group activity. Following a few of the simple tips will make sure everyone is included, no one is made to feel inferior and all members of the team finish the ride successfully.