Know the signs.
Because your ears will be filled with wind and traffic, your fellow riders will communicate with you using hand signals. When you see the rider in front of you give a sign, copy that same gesture so the rider behind you knows what is up ahead. The gestures get passed down to the end of the group. Some common gestures:
- A butt pat: “Get on my wheel.” It’s an invitation for you to ride closer, or draft. Don’t get too close, or you’ll risk hitting wheels and crashing — one to two feet behind the wheel in front of you is a good sweet spot for new group riders.
- Pointing downward: “Look out!” If there’s a stick, rock, pothole or other hazard, the rider will point down on the side where the obstruction can be found. Maneuver around the hazard as best as you can without jeopardizing the safety of other riders.
- Waving behind: “Move over.” Sometimes, there’s a runner coming the opposite direction, a slower rider ahead or extensive debris in the bike lane. When that happens, the gesture indicates the group should collectively move to the left to pass safely.
- Pointing to the right (or left): “We’re turning.” Pretty self-explanatory, right? Prepare to slow down and make the turn.
- A flat palm on the lower back: “Stop ahead.” Don’t slam on your brakes, but pay attention to the rider ahead of you to know the rate of deceleration.