Throughout the year on some weekdays and at weekends, the Club is active in the form of social rides through the local countryside. On Sundays rides start from outside the George Public House, Widley. Departure is at 9.15am after a route and safety briefing.
We welcome all cycling enthusiasts. However to comply with our CTC insurance these rides are open to those aged 13 and over only. In addition, riders under 18 must provide a parental consent form to the Membership Secretary before riding. Non-members are welcome to join us although such attendance is restricted to 3 rides before membership is required under the terms of our insurance. Riders should be capable of cycling 40 miles (64 km) of undulating terrain at an average speed of 14 mph (22 kph).
More challenging rides are also available subject to numbers (read more below).
CLUB RIDES - CODE OF PPRACTICE
Rides take place throughout the year and, on Sundays in particular, all riders are made welcome, whether PNECC members, potential members or guests. We meet outside the George Public House, Widley and the rides set off at 9.15am. As a guest rider you may ride with us up to 3 times before you are obliged to take up membership of the PNECC.
As you can imagine, we need to cater for a wide range of cycling abilities and so it is usual to split the rides into two or three distinct groups. Before we go into that, a few words are needed to cover some of the minimum requirements to ensure everyone's wellbeing.
BEFORE YOU SET OFF:
If you are new to riding in a group we need you to consider how comfortable you will feel when surrounded by other cyclists on the open road. If you think that you would be more comfortable following at the back please say so and we will make sure that you are not left behind. If you have any doubts about your ability to control your bike safely on the open road or in traffic we can offer to assess you at one of our regular coaching sessions conducted by our qualified British Cycling coaches on a closed circuit away from traffic. They will be able to advise you if your bike handling skills are sufficient to ride with other cyclists without posing a danger to you or them.
If you have a pre-existing medical condition which may manifest itself whilst riding you are asked to contact a Club Official in advance. Doing so will enable us to discuss your needs and assess them so that they do not affect the wellbeing of the other riders.
We are keen to promote all aspects of safe cycling but the only mandatory requirement for attending a ride is a correctly fitted cycle helmet which you must wear whenever cycling with us
We have a duty of care towards the group as a whole so we must ask you consider a few basic minimum requirements: If you tend to get off and push your bike up most hills, those who have got hot riding up them will have to stand around, getting cold, waiting for you at the top. Therefore, as a guide, we would want you to be capable of riding up London Road, Cosham as far as The George Public House without stopping. You should also be capable of riding on an undulating route with hills similar in severity to Portsdown Hill for a minimum of 40 miles (64 km) at an average speed of around 14 miles per hour (22 kph). This translates to around 17 miles per hour (27 kph) on flat sections. If your level of fitness is a concern to you just ask beforehand and we can try and accommodate you, perhaps by forming a smaller group to accompany you on your first ride.
The duty of care applies to all riders, whether or not if they are PNECC members, potential members or guests. All riders are expected to show consideration for the wellbeing of their fellow riders and to afford them the respect expected by the PNECC's Constitution. No rider should encourage another rider to ride in an unsafe manner which could cause harm to themselves or any other road user, including pedestrians and horse riders.
RIDERS UNDER 18 YEARS OLD:
Please note that for insurance purposes any rider under the age of 18 years will require a signed Parental Consent form and that the minimum age limit is 13 years. We take our duty of care very seriously and while we encourage riders of all ages 13 and above to attend the Club rides, telling us in advance that a young rider is intending to ride with us will enable us to nominate an experienced mentor to accompany them on the day.
WHO LEADS THE RIDES:
The Club Captain allocates Ride Leaders – who are experienced members of the PNECC – to lead each group and, depending on the routes chosen, all groups attempt to meet up at the same coffee stop to compare experiences and enjoy a well-earned hot drink in the company of fellow cyclists. A safety brief and a rough outline of the route are given to each group before the rides start.
TYPES OF RIDE: THE SOCIAL GROUP
The ‘Social’ Group is the one you will want to start with on your first time out with us. This is the ride in which we will expect to cover around 30 miles (48 km) to the coffee stop at a mean average speed of 14 miles per hour (22 kph). We always wait on the hills for the slower riders and regroup if the pace quickens on a long descent. We always include a coffee stop and these rides feature frequent breaks to check on your welfare. Everyone halts for punctures and other mechanical problems. The routes chosen avoid the steepest of hills but are still designed to challenge the novice rider. We try to avoid busy roads and the Ride Leaders will often be assisted by other experienced Club riders.
TYPES OF RIDE: THE INTERMEDIATE GROUP
Where numbers dictate, the Social Group Ride Leader will opt to split the Social Group into two groups to form an additional ‘Intermediate’ Group. This group tends to roughly follow the same route as the Social Group but at an increased mean average speed of around 17 miles per hour (27 kph) and at a distance equal to the Social Group’s plus 10 miles (16 km). By definition, this ride is aimed at the slightly fitter and probably more experienced rider but we still adhere to the ethos of the Social Group in that we wait on the hills for the slower riders, regroup after a long descent, always include a coffee stop and everyone still halts for punctures and other mechanical problems.
TYPES OF RIDE: THE SPORTY GROUP
This is designed specifically for riders who are experienced and confident on a bike and have a good level of fitness; this ride is not for novices. The mean average speed is around 20 miles per hour (32 kph) and involves disciplined close bunch riding The Sporty Group tends to cover approximately 40-45 miles (64-72 km) before a timed rendezvous with the other two groups for a coffee stop.
All rides take approximately 4-5 hours including the coffee stop so expect to back home and contemplating a hot bath by 2.00pm on a Sunday afternoon.
ABOUT YOUR BIKE:
These rides are on the Public Highway so are designed for ‘road’ bikes or ‘racing’ bikes. You would have to be exceptionally fit to be able to ride with any group while using a thick tyred mountain bike, although ‘hybrid’ bikes – straight handlebars on a lightweight bike – have been used to good effect by some riders. During the autumn, winter and early spring we ask that you show consideration to your fellow riders by equipping your bike with close-fitting mudguards. They do more than keep you dry: they stop spray from your bike flying up into the faces of following riders. In inclement weather, even in the summer, this remains the case on the majority of rides. This requirement is enforced at the discretion of the Ride Leader and some groups opt not to enforce it but if you are in any doubt, the default is for full mudguards. The more experienced riders usually have an alternative ‘winter’ bike specifically for this reason.
To get the most out of your rides you should keep your bike in good repair so that it is roadworthy. You should carry a minimal toolkit as, with the best will in the world, you should not rely on your fellow riders to have the tools you need. Such toolkits are available from your local bike shop. Carry two spare inner tubes, ideally new ones carefully wrapped to protect them until they are needed. Obviously you will need to carry a mini pump or pressurized CO2 inflator and tyre levers. A traditional puncture repair kit doesn’t take up much space and can really save the day. Cable ties can help secure wobbly mudguards until you can get home. The list of tools you could carry is almost endless but use some common sense: A lightweight multi-tool incorporating Allen keys would probably be better than a random collection of spanners. Tip: Keep a pair of latex gloves in your toolkit; not only do they help keep your hands clean but, in a cold snap they can be worn under your gloves to warm your fingers up. Also cut-up sections of Capri-Sun carton are good for patching cut tyre sidewalls, especially if prepared beforehand using some double-sided carpet tape to form a bicycle ‘sticking plaster’.
All forms of tri-bars and other similar extensions have no place on a group ride and are strictly banned. If you have such bars attached to your bike they must not be used at any point during a ride. Riding with the brakes out of reach can be dangerous whilst riding in a group and handling will be impaired on some of the roads we traverse. Ideally, leave them at home please.
PREPARING FOR YOUR RIDE:
Club rides continue throughout the year regardless of the weather so you should dress appropriately. Shorts are fine in nice warm weather but cyclists need more layers than a runner so think about leg and arm warmers for early starts – they can always be taken off and folded into a back pocket part the way round the ride. Carry a packable waterproof unless the weather forecast is unambiguous about it being a hot sunny day. If in doubt about your clothing choice just ask a Club Official in advance. Bring some cash for the coffee stop but you should also bring a banana and / or some energy bars / gels plus a bidon (bike water bottle) of water or other drink designed for the purpose.
In the winter months you need to be thinking about wearing plenty of 'wicking' layers (polyester rather than cotton) good gloves, thick socks, overshoes and a skullcap under your helmet. You’ll still need a bottle of drink and change for the coffee stop. There’s no such thing as a cold ride, it’s just that you’ve not put enough layers on.
ON THE DAY:
When riding as a club we have obligations: we have an obligation to the Club to behave in a manner that upholds its good reputation; we have an obligation to ourselves to care for our own safety and wellbeing; and we have an obligation to the other riders to ensure our behaviour does not compromise the safety and wellbeing of the group as a whole.
The Club expects all riders to adhere to the rules of the road. Continual disregard for the rules set out in the Highway Code and behaviour that endangers yourself or others will lead to you being barred from riding with the PNECC. Club rides are not races and riders are expected to act accordingly.
If you are new to riding with the Club, not confident that you will finish the ride or are suffering from mechanical problems please let the other riders know, especially the Ride Leader. Please do not wait until you are dropping off the back of the group as we do not want to lose sight of any riders, particularly if they are struggling to keep up. (In any case, our Public Liability Insurance requires us to know at all times who is and who isn’t on the ride which means we need to know if you decide to make your own way home before the ride finishes.) The group will do all they can to assist you and may even delegate a rider to escort you home. However it is your responsibility to let us know. All cyclists suffer from these problems at some point – we’ve all been there.
SOME SIMPLE RULES:
You should ride no more than two abreast and should single out to overtake another rider. Ride in single file on busy roads and under circumstances where it would otherwise be difficult for vehicles to pass you in either direction.
Warning of approaching traffic should be given by shouting "Car down!" for an on-coming vehicle. Similarly, the last rider should give warning of traffic from behind by shouting "Car up!” This message should be repeated up the line so that everyone knows.
Change to single file when the call "Car up!" or “Car down!” is heard - normally the inside rider of each pair moves forward, allowing the outside rider to slot in behind. If there is traffic behind which is unable to overtake, split into smaller groups of about four to help let it pass.
Take care on country lanes, looking over hedges and listening for approaching traffic. When riding the outside position of the leading pair, hold back on the approach to blind corners - there may be a car coming.
Keep your distance from the cyclist in front, especially when riding two abreast; you or your partner may need to cut in suddenly. Never overlap wheels.
Do not look over your shoulder unless you are he leading rider. This is the classic way to crash into the rider in front.
Do not weave about. Always assume that there is a rider just behind you and to your left or right. A sudden movement by you will almost certainly cause them to take avoiding action and the consequences can be a pile-up further back. Not good.
Do not brake suddenly if it can be avoided. You must always be aware of the riders behind you. Everything you do has a knock-on effect and you will soon gain a reputation as a rider behind whom no-one wants to ride if you are erratic and unpredictable.
You must shout warnings and signal to other iders if there is danger ahead. If you need to stop for any reason, shout "Stopping!" or raise your arm up before you slow down.
For hazardous road surfaces (pot-holes, gravel, wet leaves etc.), you should call out “Hole!” or at the very least point down with your left or right hand. For other hazards (e.g. walker, jogger, dog, parked car etc.) call "On the left!" or "On the right!" and slow the ride down as appropriate. Tip: reaching behind and displaying an open palm to the rider behind is a good way of advising them to slow down.
You are obliged to stop and assist your fellow riders if they encounter a problem; you would expect the same of them.
Please do not consciously overtake the Ride Leader unless he/she is deliberately dropping back to check on another rider. On long hills this does not pply – just be sure to stop at a safe point at the top to allow everyone to catch up.
You must pass Ride Leader’s messages down the line so that everyone knows what is going on.
You must allow for appropriate gaps in traffic and slow down to allow enough time for the entire group to negotiate obstacles. Riders at the back of a large group will be affected by the 'concertina effect' which means they will have to slow a lot more than those in front to negotiate the obstacle and will take longer to get back up to speed. Therefore you should ease up or even stop at the next appropriate place to allow the group to reform.
At junctions allow motorists ahead of you to have a clear line of sight so that they may pull out before you.
If the group splits and you are in the front section you should slow down or find a safe place to stop and reform before proceeding.
You must always wait for the last rider to catch up e.g. if climbing a hill. If the last rider decides to leave the group you must ensure that you convey this fact to the Ride Leader.
If you decide to leave the group you must let the other riders (and, ideally, the Ride Leader) know before doing so.
NOTES FOR RIDE LEADERS:
First of all: thank you for volunteering to be a Ride Leader. Please be reminded that to be a Rider Leader you must be a paid-up member of the PNECC.
Ride leaders will endeavour to ensure that the above rules are adhered to and that the ride is conducted in a safe and well-organised manner. However it is the responsibility of all riders to assist the Ride Leader to ensure the overall wellbeing of the group.
In consultation with the Club Captain and other Ride Leaders you should, where possible, choose routes which avoid large roundabouts and main roads. To avoid unnecessary stops, ensure that you are familiar with the whole route – don’t just rely on a satnav to get you there. Identify points of interest (and coffee stops and toilets) and allow time for riders to appreciate them.
Check that the chosen refreshment stops are open, can accommodate the likely number of riders and be sure that that food and drink will be available. It might be a good idea, depending on the nature of the planned venue, to advise in advance the expected number of riders. Aim to arrive at the coffee stop at the previously-advertised time and agree a leaving time with the rest of the group.
On the day, appoint a back marker (where possible a PNECC member who is familiar with the route) and let them know the route and where the coffee stop will be. If there are more than 12 riders in your group, consult with the other Ride Leaders and consider splitting the group into 2 or transferring some riders into another group. Ride Leaders and back markers will still be needed for each group.
Introduce yourself to your group and describe the route, especially to new riders. Try to ascertain the experience of new riders and tactfully check their bike for safety. Introduce them to a few more experienced riders who can help keep a watchful eye over them and their bike.
With new, non-PNECC riders be sure to obtain their names and the phone number of an emergency contact. This is important.
On the ride the Ride Leader is an official representative of the PNECC and you should act responsibly. There are a few things to think about and, in addition to the above ‘Simple Rules’ you should
Know your Highway Code. No, seriously: it’s worth having a read of it online.
Always choose a safe place to stop as a group. In particular, avoid road junctions, bends and other physical road hazards. Warn riders before stopping, and keep the carriageway clear.
Similarly, in the event of punctures, breakdowns etc. clear the carriageway if possible, or instruct the group to continue to a safe waiting place. Assess the problem and decide whether to hold up the ride or leave the stricken rider with helpers and details of the route to the next stop.
After successfully negotiating a junction, check that all riders have made it across safely.
Give positive instruction to ride in single file when road and/or traffic conditions dictate by shouting “Single out!”
On observing a road junction warning sign, assess the junction (type, traffic, visibility into junction) and ease the speed of the ride as appropriate. On approach, try to establish eye contact with driver(s) waiting at, or approaching junction from a minor road on your left, to encourage them to remember to give way.
On observing horses, warn the group and slow the ride down. When closer, warn the horse rider verbally (not by using a bell or horn as the horse will be accustomed to voices) of the group’s presence. Respect any advice given by the horse rider. This is important for reputational and safety reasons.
Directional hand signals must be given to the group (and other road users) in good time. Verbal direction can be given to a rider alongside you.
When the route deviates from ‘ahead’ at a junction, the back marker should instinctively wait for any slower riders.
Always lead from the front unless you have no option than to drop back and assess a rider in trouble, in which case give clear instruction to the other leading riders not to allow the group to get too far ahead of you or let a gap open up.
The above sounds exhaustive but really it’s just common sense. Show a little consideration for all around you (yes, even motorists) and you will get so much more out of your cycling. If you are fairly new to cycling expect to be given advice on bike riding by more experienced riders. They aren’t trying to show off, they just want you to get as much enjoyment out of your cycling as they do. They were novices once!