Cyclists need to have basic bike-handling skills and safety knowledge in order to keep themselves and others around them safe, especially while participating in group cycling activities, like a bike ride. Our focus is to provide a high quality, safe and fun bicycling experience. Please remember to always carry:
- Emergency contact information
- Insurance card
- Any important health information
Headphones, cell phones, radios and similar radio devices are not permitted while riding.
THE BASICS OF RIDING IN A GROUP
Group riding takes practice. Riding with other cyclists all around you may cause you to feel trapped. Relax. It is most important to create your own safety zone. This may vary depending on the speed and ability level of the people you are with, so be flexible. Let others know of your anxiety— they may also be new at this.Your responsibility in a pack includes:
- Be aware of others around you.
- Communicate well in advance. Use gestures in combination with verbal commands.
- Ride with your head up. Look down the road; not at the person in front of you.
- Maintain control and speed of your bike, even going downhill.
- Know your limits.
- Crashes can occur when inexperienced riders do not have bike-handling skills to make quick decisions in a pack.
- Safety starts with you. Group mentality is not always safe. Expect to stop at all red lights and stop signs—it is the law! Each cyclist is responsible for verifying that the intersection is clear.
- Adjust your safety zone to fit the conditions of the road, weather and traffic. Always plan an escape route.
- Never overlap your wheels with another cyclist.
- Do not use aerobars in a pack.
- Be aware of how weather will affect your bike. Riding in wet conditions requires slower speeds and greater breaking distances.
Be respectful of other riders. Help others when needed.
All states consider cyclists vehicle operators, and give them the same rights and duties as other drivers.
- Know and obey all traffic laws: The golden rule of bicycling in a group is Be Predictable!
- Stay right: Ride in the right portion of the rightmost lane in the direction you are traveling and leave at least four feet between your handlebars and parked cars or other hazards such as other users. You may move left when passing slower vehicles or preparing for a left turn.
- Obey all traffic signs and signals: Avoid “following the leader” through traffic signs and signals; you are required to obey all traffic signs and signals, including stopping at red lights and stop signs.
- Look & signal before you move: Always scan behind you before changing lanes or making turns. A continuous arm signal is required prior to a turn or lane change (unless arm is needed to control the bike) and while stopped waiting to turn.
- Two at a time: Ride no more than two abreast and do not impede traffic. If a part of the road has been closed and dedicated to “bicycle travel only” you may ride more than two abreast.
- Hands on the handlebars: Do not carry anything that prevents keeping one hand on the handlebars.
- Pass with care: Do not pass at intersections
ABC QUICK CHECK
All cyclists are responsible for keeping their riding equipment in good working order, so get into the habit of checking your equipment before every ride. Small adjustments can make a significant difference in yourexperience. The “ABC Quick Check” is an overall, yet brief bicycle safety check.
A is for air
Check your wheels for worn tires, loose spokes, warped rims and tires for proper inflation.
Check your handlebar for looseness at the headset and stem.
B is for brakes
Check brakes for function, cable tightness, worn pads, frayed cables, and alignment of the pads with the rims.
C is for cranks, chain and cassette
Check your pedals and cranks for tightness.
Check for chain looseness and bad links; clean regularly. Lubricate with bicycle chain lube.
Check the derailleur for worn cogs and adjustment.
Check that your gears change smoothly.
Quick is for quick releases
Check to ensure that the wheels are clamped securely in the drop-outs before each ride.
Check your helmet for cracks and make sure it fits properly.
Check your shoes for tight cleats and straps and buckles in good repair.
Make sure your bicycle saddle is the right height and the bolt is tight.
Knowing how to optimize your fluid intake is critical to successfully completing Breakaway to the Beach.
- One bottle per hour: The rule of thumb is to drink one bottle per hour and supplement with sports drinks at least every third bottle for extreme fatigue, the inability to recover your energy, or frequent muscle cramps, seek early signs of dehydration.
- Seeking medical assistance: If you find that you experience weight gain/bloating with progressive symptoms such as swollen hands and feet, confusion, throbbing headache, dizziness or nausea, please seek assistance from first aid.
BE HELMET SMART
Head injuries are a special concern for cyclists. Even falling at a slow rate of speed can cause a serious head injury. Helmets must be on your head and strapped while riding in a Bike MS event—no exceptions.
On Bike MS Events, our active route support team works to make the ride safe. Here are a few additional suggestions to help keep everyone safe on the ride:
- Thumbs down for help: SAG vehicles and motorcycle escorts will stop for you if you are off the road, off your bike, and giving a “thumbs down” sign or holding your helmet in the air.
- Ride marshal support: A special team of cyclists called Ride Marshals provide support on the rides. They offer minor mechanical help along the route and monitor cycling safety and etiquette.
- Rest stop etiquette: All cyclists who enter a rest area must pull over, dismount and move completely away from the road and rest-stop entrance. When exiting, move beyond the rest area and proceed with caution on the right side of the road before merging with faster cyclists.
- Passing: Passing others and being passed occurs continuously during the ride. Call out “passing on your left” and allow time for the cyclist being overtaken to move to the right—then pass safely.
- Mechanical problems: Examine your bike for mechanical problems before getting on the road. If you have a problem you can contact a mechanic at the the start or SAG to the next rest stop.
- Be courteous: MS Bike Ride participants are privileged to ride on many trails as well as public roads. Be courteous and use no more than half the trail so as not to block the flow of other users.
KNOW THE LINGO
Group cycling has its own form of communication. The presence of road hazards, directions, and need-to-know information is relayed through the pack of riders by gestures and words. Remember to pass all communication on to the next cyclist behind you in the group. Speak loudly and clearly. The following are the most common terms you may hear in group-sponsored rides:On your left: This means a rider is approaching your left side. Allow room to pass.
- Car back: This means a car is approaching from the rear. All riders should make an effort to alert riders of cars approaching. In most states, the law requires cyclists to ride no more than two abreast. This ensures passing is easier and safer for the cyclists.
- Gravel - Pothole - Sand - Tracks: Each of these messages is to alert the riders behind you of hazardous road conditions. The words are combined with the gesture of pointing to the hazard well in advance.
- Flat: This indicates that a rider has suffered a flat tire. Allow enough room for the rider to slow down and move to the right side of the road or trail for repair. Offer assistance if needed.
- Slowing: The cyclist in front of you is slowing down. Use caution and prepare to stop. Many cyclists use the palm of their hand toward riders behind them to indicate slowing and stopping.
- Stopping: This indicates that a rider ahead is stopping. Do not forget to unclip from your pedals.
Because communication is so important, headphones are not allowed on Bike MS Events.
Many cyclists find that situations occur in which quick thinking and heightened bike-handling skills are required. Here are some suggestions for managing potential obstacles:
- Cars can be scary. Drivers do not know your skill level, and will often not leave room when they pass. Give them the room. In a group, call out “car back” and move to the far right in a single file. Be predictable.
- Beware of animals. Knowing how to handle depending on the situation. You may want to slow down, outsprint the dog, or yell “stop”, “no” or “go home.”
- Distracting a dog with a water bottle should only be used when you are not in a pack. Try to keep to one side of the dog. Let others know of your intentions.
- Pedestrians, joggers and animals have the right-of-way. Signal the pack that someone is being overtaken and move to allow room for safe passing.
RIDING IN INCLEMENT WEATHER
Carolina weather, like the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, can be unpredictable. Follow these techniques to stay safe in less than ideal conditions:
- Allow for longer braking distances
- Brake more gently on slick surfaces and use the front brake less
- Turn and accelerate more gently to prevent sliding on slick surfaces
- Pay special attention to other slick surfaces, such as manhole covers, painted traffic markings, and oil slicks
- Be prepared to put a foot down for balance
- After riding in the rain, lubricate your bike chain to help prevent rusting
Thank you in advance for your help in keeping Breakaway to the Beach a safe and enjoyable event for everyone! Help us leave a great impression on the people of the Carolinas so that communities and neighborhoods continue to embrace this great tradition.