Hold Your Line!

Recently, I was riding with a group I hadn’t ridden with before. We got along well, and seemed to have similar abilities. About halfway into the ride, we crossed a busy road and got onto a rough street in a rural town. The street made a 90-degree turn to the left to go into the town’s business district.

I was in the middle of the group, making the left turn, when suddenly, a rider to my left called out, “Watch it, there!”

I flicked my handlebars a little to the right to make room for him, concerned that I might bang into the rider on my right. The guy who had come in on the left realized that he had nearly caused a crash, and started apologizing profusely.

“Yeah, I was coming down that small hill and had more speed than the rest of you,” he said. “I was swinging a little wide there. Sorry ’bout that. I didn’t mean to crowd you.”

Well, maybe not — not intentionally. I had picked a line for the turn and stuck with it, mindful of the positions of the riders around me. He had been trailing the group a bit, so we weren’t aware of his presence nearby. His speed caused him to make a wider turn than I was, but since he was on the inside of me, he almost hit me.

The drawing is crude, but you get the idea.
The drawing is crude, but you get the idea.

What should he have done? Braked harder. That would have allowed him to control his turn and stay on a line to my inside. He had been riding behind the group most of the morning anyway, so falling back a little at this point would have made no difference. Besides, we had a rest stop coming up in just a few blocks, anyway. He’d have gotten there pretty much with the rest of us.

In a turn while riding with a group, be predictable. Stick with your line. I’m hearing about too many crashes lately, and many of them result in serious injury.


  1. says

    OK, I don’t mean to be contrary, but what if his line was to diamond the corner like race cars do? I tend to do that when I’m riding faster than 10 mph based on simple physics, lots of weigh on skinny tires. :) He would then be holding his line when he moved out into you. This is part of the reason I don’t like riding in groups – too many interpretations of what the correct line should be,

    • says

      Right. But since he was coming up from behind, I think it’s his obligation to avoid the riders ahead of him. I was not the only rider he needed to be concerned about.

      • says

        Certainly he needed to watch out for anyone ahead of him. I was thinking more of a case when riding side by side and there being multiple ideas as to what the line should be.

  2. says

    Sounds like an honest mistake from a guy not used to riding in groups. His mistake was not matching the pace of the group or moving far enough away from the group when he chose to go faster. As a heavier rider, I sympathize with his predicament – I tend to go faster on the descents than most and I hate to bleed off energy by tapping the breaks. All the same, that is what is required if you want to ride with a group.

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