Author Archives: JD Hale

Ripper Riding Safety Observations – Spring 2015


With the rain, the respite, I wanted to get this out tonight.  Our groups are growing and that is great – and I have also been seeing and hearing a tweak of buzz.  So here’s my take (and I am not perfect just cause I wrote this!):

Despite everyone’s best efforts – peloton riding can have its “moments”.   I don’t think for the most part it is intentional – but we do have to be extra mindful to be safe.  Our record is very good – and we want to always be striving to improve – the vets and our new riders.

So a couple of tips, simplified:

  • Riding multiple abreast.  It can happen in several ways due to a quiet road and a good conversation. Or it happens with overlapping speeds.  Most of our roads we want to be single file.  There are some where it is safe to be two abreast (and legal).   But there are none that are good with three or more.  Having said that it can happen (speed overlaps) – so everyone stay chill (drivers too, man) and let the overlapping thread, cycle through.
  • Passing a group of riders or one rider – and you are by them by plenty (at least a half a bike length), slowly move to the right/side of the road, don’t keep that line.  Why? Cause if they in turn want to pass you (new draft, new energy) – they have to go too wide to accomplish that.  Signal your intensions too or at least show it and slowly in your actions so it is obvious. But get closer to the inside of the road.
  • Car Back. Along this same line, when you hear “car back” the idea is to smoothly move into single file or whatever is called for.  You can’t rush it especially if we are packed in (start of a hill) – but we do get some “hanging out” where I see riders not really moving right.  Space there and everything.  Let’s get er done. Smooth though.  Riders trailing a rider “hanging out” can help by communicating.
  • Be patient. Get boxed in as the peloton accelerates on a hill (happens to me a lot) – stay cool.  You may get separated but stay cool.  It will all work out.
  • Make your intensions known to those behind or even in front of you.  About to pass on a hill, say something, move a hand in that direction, whatever, and do is gradually.  (I know it can be hard/dangerous to look back).
  • Careful with “Follow the Leader” – don’t assume the “coast is clear”, the light green, the arrow in your direction, just because the person in front of you is cycling through a turn or intersection – you have to make the safe call on your own too.  Seen some close calls on “following the leader”.
  • Front part of the pelotonbe extra safe around stop signs, signals.   Some of our quiet roads it is easy to “roll” and may be safer but also be thinking on the conservative side v aggressive side of how to handle.  We’d prefer to have Rippers stop, generally.  (Note: I know that signal at the bottom of Whipple Hill in Lexington is a bugger. Light is quick or doesn’t move.  Each rider needs to get through their safely but you are on your own too.)
  • Middle Part of the Peloton – communicate backwards the information the front should be saying about road hazards and changes in direction.
  • Back of the Peloton – your job to communicate forward about “cars back” etc.   Also if the peloton is making a turn (great example right before Page Hill on the Ripper Tu/Thurs ride) – you are the best person to signal clearly to drivers who may be approaching us from the rear.
  • When our peloton is medium to large, be careful about populating the entire lane when we come to a red light.  It is easier to “reassemble” and negotiate the intersection if we “keep our shape” – two or three across max. Plus we know some cars want to squeeze by etc – and so it is just better road courtesy and safer too.  Again the exception during the week is that Whipple Hill light.  Just need to get through safely and you have to see to do that, so creeping up is cool, there.
  • Left hand turns, don’t cut the angle/tight.  Go wide. There could be a car there.
  • Find yourself leading or take over the lead. There is some times a tendency to accelerate.  I mean you are the man. You want to show you are worthy. But remember taking the speed up will break down the group, probably will definitely drop the  person that was just leading (they need time to recover).  So this is often when a peloton starts to “yo-yo” meaning the speed goes up and down especially back in the pack.  Be smooth, keep the peloton’s speed consistent.  If you can see you are about to be the leader, check quick the peloton’s speed and retain that speed when you take over.  Unless you are one of our racing riders – don’t hang to that lead for too long. You will be long gone after your blow.
  • Out in front and you are out of gas. Unless you know the peloton has set up a counter clockwise rotation (where you move left, further out into the road) – you should slowly, predictably move to the right/ edge of the road  to allow other riders, the peloton to overtake you – on your left side.  If you don’t, don’t panic, hold your line and the peloton will make the move. Stay on that line as they come around you.
  • Please don’t pass on the right, silently. It is a racing thing that leads to that – but our group rides are not races. Smart to say something in races too.  Most times our passes should be on the left but it does happen on the right at times for a variety of safe reasons. Talk it up.
  • New Rider? New to peloton riding? Rusty?  Riding in groups is like playing doubles in tennis.  You need to learn your partner’s moves.  And visa versa so there is always a degree of space and getting to know each other going on.  That’s cool and necessary.
  • We want to be smooth.  We want to be mellow in a aggressive safe kind of way.  We want to communicate a lot.  We want to be good.  We want to “pound”! YB! (or new is “Mach Schnell”! J)

There is no greater thrill than riding in a group. It is so much fun!  Let’s strive to keep getting better and make it feel inclusive always too.

Thanks jd

Welcome from The Rippers!

Rippers_logo_black_150The Rippers are a Winchester, MA, based cycling club.  Check out our Weekday Rides page for details on our monday through friday morning rides. Also, our Weekend Routes occur regularly on the weekends. We have a the Rippers Google Group to for discussion and to plan rides.


Rippers_logo_black_150I get emotional just thinking about cycling safety on the roads. The Rippers are a very safe riding group – and have an excellent record. However, I think we can be safer.

I am not thinking about our peloton etiquette and knowledge in the pack. I am thinking only about how to make ourselves safer on the road for drivers.

We do share the road with them. But they will always win.

Think about how you and your set up can maximize visibility on the road. Drivers are often distracted, may be suffering with aging eyes or effected by lighting conditions.

Consider, always:

  • Bright colored outfits. (If buying shoes or helmets – consider white and light colors before dark colors.)
  • Blinking front (white) and rear lights (red) are extremely helpful. Day and night.
  • Reflective ankle wraps. (The motion of our ankles and the illumination from the side – is so helpful). Be seen from ALL Sides.
  • Motion your arm – sit up – your voice – do whatever it takes to ensure a driver knows you are there when drivers come into intersections, may turn into your path etc.

Also while riding:

  • Avoid riding alone when possible. Take the time to find a buddy for any ride – there truly is safety in numbers – and you can use our Ripper email list anytime to find a rider/say you are going out. (We let a solo B45 go alone on Tuesday as we waited for the B52s – and I have been kicking myself about that – I/we should have sent someone with him).
  • Be predictable to the traffic.
  • Avoid talking when involved with traffic and or in intersections – let everyone focus.
  • Remember midday riding may have more road challenges than night riding due to shadows and bright sun.
  • Obey traffic laws. Slow down when needed. Stand out.

We want to keep our riding record safe. A safer/visible rider makes you not only safer on the way to our ride meet ups but our whole group safer on the roads.

Safety ensures the fun.

Jd, ripper