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BCC Ride Practices

BCC RIDE PRACTISES- updated January 2024


Group Rides

Barrie Cycling Club (BCC) has several group rides per week planned for the year, all with a slightly different emphasis. Please see the "Group Rides" section for updated information on the rides.

Ride Etiquette Tip Sheet

Here are some group riding tips you need to know prior to joining our weekly rides. Please read and email us with any questions:

  • On Tuesday evening riders leave in groups from A to D (A1 being the fastest).

  • Designated ride leaders will be wearing special BCC jerseys. Please listen to our volunteer ride leaders; group safety is their number one priority. 

  • Riders will leave East Bayfield Recreational Centre parking lot (or other starting location) in groups of approximately 12 (slightly more or less may occur depending on the total number of riders in each group and the number of ride leaders).  

  • Groups will ride in the social pace line or single file when required. NO four-abreast riding, even to rotate the front leaders.  

  • Ride tight and to the right - no swerving or riding outside the group.

  •   Ride smooth and steady all the time. No sudden or abrupt movements or over reactions to potholes etc.

  • As always, the yellow line rule is in effect - no crossing the yellow line. This includes group sprints. 

  • Ride leaders will announce the route prior to leaving the meeting location.   

  • Rear red lights and helmets are mandatory.

  • In case of an accident, we have added the Emergency Response Plan to our website:

  •   When picking your group, be realistic. It is better to be comfortable in your group than maxed out all the time.   Group rides are not races. We are there to support each other by taking turns in the wind. Only in Hot Spots is it okay to try to drop your friends.

  •  When you see someone committing a ride foul (E.g. half wheeling, going over the yellow line, not looking ahead when chatting, etc.) , politely say something. We are all responsible for the quality of our rides.

  •  If you get a flat, give a loud shout out right away or there is a good chance the pack will ride away without even noticing you. If the group knows they will stop and help you fix it quickly.

  •  Do not yell obscenities to motorists or get into arguments with the police. It is never productive and will lead to more bad blood and possible retribution. We ask that cyclists not engage in any kind of confrontation with drivers or police officers. This includes hand gestures involving the centre digit. We are working hard to improve the reputation of the BCC and all cyclists in general. If words must be exchanged let the Group Ride Leader do the talking. (Feel free to video the exchange if you feel the individual is dangerous.) It is important to understand that when you ride with the club and when you wear our club jersey you become an ambassador for both the club and all cyclists in general. Let us not do anything to fuel the flames of discontent. Nothing meaningful gets resolved on the road.




You must be a member in good standing to join in any group ride or race event of the Barrie Cycling Club unless otherwise specified on our website.


Group Etiquette: 

Since these are group rides, you should be prepared to ride as a group, using these practices as your guide. (If you prefer to ride at your own pace in your own way, please choose to ride on your own at another time and place.) You must ride according to the Highway Traffic Act, which includes: staying to the right-hand side of the lane (single or double file), stopping at STOP signs and red traffic lights; signalling turns; waiting in line at the back of a traffic queue (not filtering to the front) and using good observation at all times. We will ride as a group, which includes: going at the same speed and waiting for the rest of the group if it gets stuck at traffic lights or at a busy intersection or if someone has a flat. Waiting may mean stopping and waiting, well over to the side of the road away from traffic, or it may mean riding on SLOWLY, in proper formation, so that the back riders can easily catch up. If for any reason you do not want the group to wait for you, please be sure to let someone know, preferably the ride leader.



Each individual is responsible for her or his own safety. You must wear a helmet, have a rear red light in working order and wear the BCC kit or other brightly coloured clothing.  No profanity is allowed on personal jerseys. You can use the check lists of items you may want to carry with you (see below) but it is up to you to carry enough food and drink, clothing, medical supplies, repair kit, cell phone and anything else you may need to satisfy your level of risk. There is no designated ride leader who will carry such items. Although the club makes a reasonable attempt to conduct its events safely, you should recognize that riding a bicycle on public roads can be hazardous and you must prepare adequately.


Emergency Response Check List for BCC Members                             

  • Determine if all involved are responsive,

  • Determine if 911 is required (Police, Fire, Ambulance), check helmets for damage (cracked, impacted) to determine if there is head trauma,

  • Make sure scene is safe from traffic, create roadblock, if necessary,

  • Stay coordinated, calm and collected,

  • Check airway, breathing and circulation functions,

  • Use first aid as required,

  • Keep victims warm and comfortable,

  • Make access for emergency vehicles as required,

  • Photograph scene, if possible,

  • Determine emergency contact person and contact, delegate this task, if possible,

  • Ask witnesses for statements, or arrange to get later, get names and phone numbers,



  • You should always bring a bike in good working order. If you show up on equipment that an experienced member thinks is unsafe, you may not be welcome to join the group. 

  • You must wear a cycling helmet and have a working rear red light. 

  • Aero bars are very unsafe in a group setting and are therefore not permitted. They must be removed from the bicycle before arriving at the meeting place. 

  • Gears and brakes must be easily accessible from the drop bar position – which is the most stable position on a bike. 

  • Wheels should be running true and tires should be in good condition and inflated appropriately. Check all nuts and bolts for tightness. You must carry a reliable pump – with the right adapter for your tubes/tubeless tires, and at least one spare, intact inner tube/tubeless tire with the right valve stem for your rims. 

  • Carry Allen keys/multitool, tire levers, cash, an ID card, and sufficient fluid for the ride. Most of these items must be attended to for the safety and convenience of your fellow riders. 

  • You may wish to invest in taking a bicycle maintenance course (see your local bike store) and know how to use the tools you carry with you. People will be on road bikes except during our winter rides, or gravel bikes on gravel rides. Mountain bikes are not encouraged as you will have trouble keeping up with the group, depending on tires, road conditions etc.



We will quickly form into tight single file or double file formation, according to traffic conditions or upon the advice of the ride leader or an ‘ad hoc’ leader. The default formation is always double file, but if conditions are unsafe for this, single file is used. Very often, the first few kilometres of the ride will be single file until we get out of town.


Social Pace Line:

The Social Pace Line begins with riders in double file formation. Ride side by side with your handlebars in line with your partner’s bars. Try not to pull ahead (known as ‘half-wheeling’ and very uncool). Check your computer to ensure you are maintaining the group’s speed and effort when you are at the front. Otherwise, follow the rider in front of you, but with a slight offset to provide extra braking distance in case of emergency. Ideally, your front wheel should be at least 3 feet behind the back wheel of the person in front of you. Increase that distance according to your skill level and comfort, the skill level of the person you are following and the skill level of the group as a whole. You will also want to increase the following distance to account for rough road conditions, higher speeds during descents or any other time you need more visibility or manoeuvring space. Do not make sudden changes in speed or direction. Remember, other riders are very close behind you, and they depend on your consistency. Always have your hands close to your brakes so that you can react quickly in an emergency; that is, on the drops or hoods only; NEVER on the top of the bars.



The 2 riders at the front of the social pace line do the brunt of the work into the wind. The following riders make about 30% less effort, yet ride at the same speed. It benefits the group as a whole to rotate the leaders off the front once in a while and replace them. This is done by rotating clockwise, having the rider closest to the shoulder drop back one place and the outside rider moving to the right so another rider may pull through. The amount of time a pair will spend on the front depends on the pace speed, the wind strength, and the front pair riding strength. It could be 30 seconds up to 10 minutes. The front pair will communicate that the outside front rider is going to pull ahead, the inner front ride will call “clear” when the outside rider can safely move in front and to the right. Those on the left will move forward until the front outside rider’s handlebars are beside the inside front rider.  Riders dropping back must then pedal a little softer so that their speed drops slightly relative to the rest of the group. It will now feel harder for the front riders because they are riding into the wind, but the speed should remain the same. 


Other Types of Pace Line:

Social pace line is the default formation any time we are on the road, it is the preferred formation for fast and slow touring and most training rides. There are 3 exceptions. 1. When traffic is heavy, we simply ride in single file, as described above. 2. When a fast-paced training ride is required, the formation usually develops into a Rotating/Single Pace Line (Racing Pace Line). This is a more advanced technique that is taught on the A and B level rides. 3. Echelon is the third formation. It too is advanced but should not be used on our training rides. It should only be used when either the road is closed (as in an official race with marshals) or when you are absolutely sure there will be no traffic. It is a racing pace line used when there are strong crosswinds. They require practice to become proficient. The effort is worth it however; the result is group riding that is smoother, safer, and faster for all.


***Keep your head up and your eyes looking ahead***

  • In a close formation, you must be always looking up and ahead (even when chatting to the cyclist beside you).  Look to the front of the group or at least a few riders ahead of you. This way, you will see any problems or changes in direction or speed, well in advance. The riders close to you (left, right or directly in front) will be sensed using your peripheral vision, which is more adept at judging movement than your straight-ahead vision.

  • For some things we rely on other group members (when it is hard to see the road ahead) and for other things we must rely on ourselves (traffic safety). At intersections, you MUST look for yourself to see if it is safe to cross. Do not yell about cars coming in either direction (on-coming or passing) on the road in the normal way. They have every right to be there and that is exactly where we should expect to find cars. Since we will be riding in an orderly fashion close to the right-hand side of the travel lane, at all times, we should have nothing to worry about. It is up to the driver of the vehicle to assess how best to proceed past an orderly group of cyclists, just as she or he would proceed past any other slow-moving road user. The ride leader or an experienced group member may order “Single file” if necessary, but under normal circumstances even on narrow roads, it is safer to ride in double file since it forces the traffic to slow down and pass safely, rather than to try to squeeze past when there isn’t quite enough room. So, we will save our yelling for warnings of an urgent or unusual nature.

  • Please signal all turns and stops with regular arm signals, well in advance. Also, point out potholes and hazardous objects in the road so that following riders can avoid them. 



  1. Short or Gradual descents: 

On short descents gradually increase the distance from yourself to the rider in front of you a little, to give yourself a little more reaction time in case of emergency. If your speed picks up too much, do not break ranks or pass other riders. Gradually decrease your speed, by applying the back brake lightly, while pedalling against the brake, if necessary. NEVER go down a hill with your hands on the top of the bars. They should always be on the drops. This puts your hands close to the brakes in the most powerful position (in case of emergency) and it lowers your centre of gravity making you more stable and safer.


Note: When you are at the front of the group on short descents, pedal to keep the pace up. Remember there are riders drafting behind you who will have to brake if you don’t keep the pace up.


   2. Steep Descent:

We have several descents that can generate sustained speeds in excess of 80 kph. On those descents we recommend the group take the following actions:

  1. The group should move into a single file formation.

  2. Riders should move 1 to 2 m from the right edge of the road. It is not safe to ride close to the edge of the road at high speeds due to wind gusts.

  3. Riders should open up gaps of at least 2 m or more between each rider front to back.

  4. The fastest riders should go down first to minimise passing.

  5. Always pass on the left, then move over to the right when it is clear. Never pass on the right.

Up-hills and Regrouping Spots:

On long climbs groups often break formation due to climbing ability differences, but will regroup at the pre-designated spots at the top. We ask you to stay to the right and not scatter across the hill when the group breaks apart. Slower riders stay right and make room for the faster riders to get by without forcing them too far out. We still want to stay ‘Tight and to the Right’. All riders should wait for the slower riders at the regrouping spot. Soft pedalling down the road causes confusion for the late arrivals who may think the group is leaving them behind. If you feel the need to keep moving, ride back toward the late arrivals and then return with them. All of our regrouping spots offer plenty of space to pull over safely. Never regroup in a manner that would obstruct traffic in any way.


Changes of Speed and Direction:

  • All changes should be smooth and gradual. Remember, everyone behind is depending on you to lead them safely up the road, around potholes, dead animals and corners, and up and down hills. There must be no sudden movements to the left or right (switching). Switching is very dangerous in a group and can instantly lead to serious injury for fellow riders, as a result of a crash. Common sense is a virtue.

  • Do not remove things from pockets, eat, drink, take off clothing, startle another rider, suddenly break ranks or do anything else that may result in an erratic movement when riding in a group. If the speed is fast you must be especially vigilant. Your hands must be on the bars at all times. To eat, etc. you must wait until it is your turn to be at the back of the group, where no one is following you. Drinking and the ‘shoulder check’ should be practised ahead of time to ensure that they can be performed without swerving.

  • Avoid sudden braking at all costs. Be aware that the front brake has a very abrupt stopping action whereas the back brake is less abrupt. Know which is which. To reduce speed slightly, use the back brake lightly and pedal against it at the same time. To increase speed, first pedal faster in the gear you are in, then change up to your next gear. Your cadence should be between 80 and 120 rpm for regular flat riding, up hills this may be reduced to 60 rpm or lower. The higher the cadence, the smoother rider you will be, better able to adapt to changes of speed and other manoeuvres.



HOT SPOTS (especially for the A, B and occasionally C groups)

Every group ride must have a degree of compromise. One person’s ‘hammerfest’ is another person’s recovery ride. We try to accommodate everyone’s wishes by offering as many different groups as possible. We also offer different opportunities along the route for some hard efforts. Almost all our routes involve sections where the option exists for the riders to break from the group and go as fast as they wish. We call these the Hot Spots. All long climbs for the A-C groups are automatically Hot Spots and as such the groups often break formation and regroup at the pre-designated spots at the top. We ask you to stay to the right and not scatter across the hill when the group breaks apart. Slower riders stay right and make room for the faster riders to get by without forcing them too far out. We still want to stay ‘Tight and to the Right’.


We also offer Hot Spots on flatter terrain Ride Leaders will inform the group of the Hot Spot locations before and during each ride. There are three common denominators to a Hot Spot:

  1. A very quiet section of road

  2. No traffic lights or stop signs

  3. A safe regrouping location at the end of the section


Some rules about Hot Spots:

  1. Going hard is optional, not compulsory. Those that choose to cruise can rest assured that the group will wait for them at the regrouping point.

  2. All riders should wait for the slower riders at the regrouping spot. Soft pedalling down the road causes confusion for the late arrivals who may think the group is leaving them behind. If you feel the need to keep moving, ride back toward the late arrivals and then return with them.

  3. All of our regrouping spots offer plenty of space to pull over safely. Never regroup in a manner that would obstruct traffic in any way.

Keep Safe, have fun and thanks for riding with the Barrie Cycling Club


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