Pre-Ride Checklist

Every time you go on a bike ride make sure you go through a checklist. A good pre-ride checklist for cyclists will match the type of bike ride you are taking to the items you pack. For example, riding on a path near your home may only require a phone, some id, and some water. An all-day ride requires much more. Simply be aware that you have to tailor your checklist to match your potential needs and you should find that youíll have little, if any, problems you canít overcome during your ride.
Check the wheels
  • Make sure the quick-release skewers are tightened correctly. Spin the wheels to check that they are true and donít rub on the brake pads or anywhere on the frame or fork.
Inspect the tires
  • Check for adequate air pressure in the tires. For the majority of road tires, a pressure of 110 to 120 pounds per square inch is best, depending on your size and riding style. Check for any cuts or nicks in the sidewall or tread of the tires where the inner tube can bulge through and cause a flat. Also check for adequate tread on both tires.
Test the brakes
  • Spin the wheels and apply the front and rear brakes independently of each other. Check that the brakes engage before the brake lever reaches the handlebars and that there is enough stopping power to be safe.  It is also important to ensure the brake pads are not worn.
Lube the chain
  • Apply a small amount to the inside of the chain as you pedal backward so the entire chain gets an even coat.
Check the shifting
  • Check that the rear derailleur shifts evenly and smoothly between all the gears on the cassette. Also check that the chain doesnít fall off the front chain rings when performing front derailleur shifts and that it shifts smoothly between the small and large chain ring.
  • Check the angle and height of the handlebars, make sure theyíre secure

  • Check the angle of the saddle and height of saddle and secure.

  • Set the limit screws and barrel adjusters of the derailleurs so the chain shifts across gears with precision.

  • breakfast sized correctly for your bike ride
  • Pack a powerbar, energy bar, or other good mid-ride snack, one for each hour youíre riding
  • Two water bottles (if you have room for them) one with water, one with sports drink
  • Bring additional money if you are going on a long ride so you can purchase more sports drinks or water.

Essential Items

  • Laminated photo identification with name, address, and emergency contact.

  • Insurance card.

  • Some cash

  • Fully charged cell phone

  • Map/GPS - if you know in advance of the group's destination, it's  always a good idea to bring a road map.

  • Water - At least two full bottles or a hydration pack filled with fluids.

  • At least two spare inner tubes and a patch kit (know how to change  your inner tube or to fix a flat)

  • A good working bicycle frame pump or CO cartridge(s)

  • A multi-tool or Allen wrench set

Safety Items
  • A helmet (and wear it)

  • First aid kit with bandages, gauze, and antiseptic

  • Anti-inflammatory medication

  • Sunscreen

  • Wet wipes

  • Sunglasses

  • Lip balm with UV protection

  • Any prescription medications that are taken in an emergency health situation (inhalers, etc.)


Group Ride Etiquette
There is a certain cycling etiquette of which you should be aware whenever cycling in a group.
Arrive on time and prepared
  • There is nothing more annoying than waiting around for late riders. Itís important to be punctual for the group rides.

  • Come prepared as well with sufficient food, water, money, identification and a flat kit so you donít have to rely on others during the ride. Sure, it happens that you are running late or may forget something time to time but donít make it a habit.

Donít ride erratically
  • Frequently deviating from your line suddenly and without notice can make everyone riding around you very nervous.

  • While thereís no problem changing your line to navigate the road safely, do so predictably by letting your riding companions know or try and do it preemptively so you arenít swerving erratically at the last minute.

  • Squirrelly riding wonít get you a good reputation on the group rides.

Pass on the Left
  • Pass others, going your direction, on their left. Look ahead and behind to make sure the lane is clear before pulling out.

  • You might have to slow down a bit until clear to pass.

  • Pass with ample separation. Do not move back to the right until safely passed.

  • Fast moving users are responsible for yielding to slower moving users. 

Leave the aero bars at home
  • Riding from aero bars is an inherently less stable position.

  • Unless you have routed separate brake lines, you now have to remove one hand to access the brakes. Your other hand remains on the clip on leaving your body in an even more compromised position.

  • Riding in the slipstream requires much less effort, sometimes up to 40% less. This makes aero bars unnecessary in group rides.

In the paceline
  • Never ride more than two abreast.

  • Never allow more than six inches distance between your front wheel to the rear wheel of the rider in front of you.

  • Maintain a distance, no more than 12 inches from your shoulder to the shoulder of the rider next to you.

  • It only takes one person to call things out. This should be the person at the front of the pack. Ideally, a little point of the hand is all it takes to indicate obstructions or turns.

Use hand and verbal signals when necessary
  • Nothing is worse than being at the back of a group and barreling full speed into a giant pothole you didnít see coming up.

  • Use hand signals to point out obstacles on the road is very appreciated by everyone you ride with.

  • Verbal signals are also good when you canít take your hands off the bars or thereís a sudden change up ahead that needs to be communicated to the group.

Donít join a ride or rider uninvited
  • When you meet another rider or group on the road, be courteous and ask before just latching on to the draft. Sure they may be going your pace or a little faster so you figure riding with them will be enjoyable but just introducing yourself, saying hi and asking is the right thing to do.

Obey the rules of the road
  • Thereís absolutely no reason you should be recklessly running red lights or flaunting the rules of the road while out for a ride. It puts you and anybody you are riding with at risk and itís, you know, illegal.

Donít overlap wheels
  • Riding too close to the rider in front of you can see your wheels overlapping. This can be very dangerous because it drastically reduces the amount of time you have to brake or react to changes in their riding. An expected touch of wheels can result in a crash.

  • If you are riding side by side with someone ride handle-bar to handlebar and donít push to always be slightly ahead of the rider next to you. Itís annoying to ride with someone who is always half-wheeling you.

Be mindful when you spit and snot rocket

  • There are few things grosser than riding through a misty cloud of your riding companionís snot. Instead of just indiscriminately aiming away from your own body, look back or move slightly out of the pace line to ensure you donít hit anyone you are riding with.

Donít surge or attack the group ride
  • A good way to get the wrong reputation on a non-drop ride is to up the pace to the point riders are struggling and dropping off.

  • If you are feeling strong and want to prove it donít lift the pace to the point it blows the group apart. Instead, sit on the front and take long, steady pulls. Everyone will be grateful and that way the whole group wonít have to slow up and wait for riders who have shelled out the back.

Stay off the brakes

  • When you need to make minor speed adjustments in a group ride, do this with air resistance rather than braking whenever possible. That means sitting up a bit and/or moving out into the wind a little to slow down.

  • When you tap the brakes, you slow more abruptly and that signals the rider behind you to tap his brakes, and so on. Obviously there are times when you need to and should use the brakes, but try to make minor speed adjustments without braking to avoid a herky-jerky riding experience for everyone around you.

Look after the slowest person
  • Itís always hard being the slowest in the group. Ii you look after them now they may well do the same for you when youíre dropping the wheels. 

  • There will be places you want to race such as hills or long flats to work out whoís quickest, but always bring the group back together as soon as you can.

  • Pass the message up the group to slow the pace if the person behind you has been dropped.

Donít litter
  •  There is no excuse. Ever. If you take it out, you take it home.


Road Hazards
Railroad tracks
  • Slow down! Tracks are rough, and even if you donít crash you could get a pinch flat. This happens when you ride into something abrupt, like a rail, and it pinches the tube between the tire and rim, slicing two little holes in the tube.

  • Rise slightly off the saddle. Have equal weight on your hands and feet. Let the bike chatter beneath you. Use your flexed arms and legs as shock absorbers.

  • Cross tracks at a right angle. If the rails are diagonal to the road and you cross them at an angle, your front wheel can be twisted out from under you. A perpendicular passage is essential in the rain. Wet metal tracks are very slippery.

  • Be extra careful at bridge joints. They have  large gaps that may cause your front wheel to wedge in between the  gap. If in doubt, get off and walk your bike across.

Wet roads
  • The first minutes of riding in rainfall are the most dangerous.s.

  • To turn, exaggerate the normal cornering technique of driving weight into the lowered, outside pedal. This helps your tires grip the road as much as possible.

Paint strips
  • The slickest parts of any wet road are the lane markings.

  • To stay safe, cross road lanes as close to a right angle as you can. If you get forced onto a slick road line, avoid an abrupt reaction.

  • Treat potholes like glass.

  • Ride around them, first checking behind for traffic.

  • Be mindful of riding partners when you change your line.

  • Newly minted pot holes present a double hazardóthe chasm itself, and the chunks of shattered pavement around it.

Road kill
  • The key to avoiding them is to look ahead.

  • Look about 20 yards up the road.


Last revision: 15 September, 2020