As well as the regular winter season Sunday morning training ride (see the KFC Bunch below), there are numerous rides around Melbourne that are “out there” for you to join up with. These rides are not recommended, endorsed or organized by CCCC; participation is entirely at the individuals own risk.
You should always observe the Cyclists Code of Conduct and all road rules whenever you ride.
Note: CCCC does not recommend cyclists participate in the Hell Ride, which meets at the Black Rock clock tower at 7am Saturdays. Unfortunately, some riders treat this bunch ride as a race which is inherently dangerous – there are no road closures or traffic control measures in place. If you choose to ignore our recommendation, it is imperative that you obey all road rules, in particular stopping at red lights and staying in the left hand lane.
CCCC offers plenty of safe, legal and sanctioned races all year round which are a much better place to unleash your competitive urges!
General bunch riding ettiquette
As cyclists we’re firmly in the spotlight of the motoring public and the media, and it doesn’t take many riders to do the wrong thing to reinforce the stereotype that any cyclist on the road is a “Hell Rider”.
Here are 10 basic things I reckon we should all be doing as responsible road users and safe bunch riders. We teach the new guys who join the club training ride on Sunday mornings during the winter season these do’s and don’ts – hopefully any bunch you train with is equally switched on!
- Stop at red lights! Goes without saying, but this one is non-negotiable. Sometimes the front guys in a bunch will get through as the lights change, but a bunch is not ‘one long vehicle’. If you can stop, you should, just like you would in a car. It’s not a race, if your mates won’t wait for you to catch up maybe it’s time for some new friends! If riders in front are calling ‘stopping’ you should stop too, not swing out and sprint past.
- Ride two abreast. Think about how you swing off the front of the bunch if you’re not rolling turns – don’t peel off to the traffic side if it’s going to put you out into the next lane unless you’re 100% sure there are no cars overtaking your bunch. You don’t change lanes while driving without checking the other lane is clear but plenty of bike riders don’t seem to bother to look before they pull out, often in front of cars travelling at twice their speed.
- Pass other bunches safely. Two bunches both riding two abreast generally can’t fit into a single lane. It’s usually better to drop into single file until you’re safely past rather than spilling out into the right hand lane and blocking the car traffic.
- Learn how to look over your shoulder without swerving off your line. You need to be able to look behind you if you need to pass a parked car or another bunch. Get in the habit of checking for yourself too; don’t assume that just because the rider on the front of the bunch thought it was safe to move across doesn’t mean it will still be when you get to the same point. Some riders will place a hand on the shoulder of the rider they’re next to to steady and guide themselves when they look around; others like to take one hand off the bars when they look around. Either way it’s a vital skill to learn to ride in a bunch safely. Practice on your own following a painted line on a quiet road.
- If you want to tack onto a bunch that overtakes you, let them pass you and jump on at the back. It’s pretty rude to push into the middle of a bunch, not to mention that you could be forcing the outside rider into passing traffic. You should also be aware that some bunches don’t like unknown riders getting involved in their training. While it’s rare to be told you’re not welcome it’s still nice to have a quick chat to one of the riders and ask if they mind you tagging along.
- Don’t overlap wheels. We drum this in at racing as well. If you allow your front wheel to come up alongside the rider in front’s back wheel and they change direction suddenly and your wheels touch, there’s a very good chance you’re going down. Bikes are expensive, bodies are fragile, bitumen is hard and crashing is not fun! Even if you manage to hold it up when you touch the wheel in front, your frantic gyrations are likely to take out other riders around you.
- Be considerate when changing from seated to out of the saddle pedalling. Many new riders have a tendency to allow their bike to drop back 30cm or so when they get out of the saddle on a climb. Concentrate on keeping the pressure on the pedals while making the transition to avoid sending your back wheel shooting into the front wheel of the rider in front which can cause them to crash. It can also happen when sitting down again on a climb or after a sprint. On the other hand, the more experiences riders allow a slightly bigger gap to the rider in front on a climb to allow for lapses in form from the rider in front.
- No head phones in a bunch. If you chose to listen to music while out solo, it’s your choice – but make sure you have the volume at a low enough level that you can still hear what’s going on around. It’s rude and dangerous to leave them in when you join a bunch. The riders around you won’t know or trust that you can hear what’s going on if you leave them in and would be quite justified to ‘ask’ you to remove them or find somewhere else to ride.
- Don’t fixate on the wheel in front of you. You need to be looking past the rider in front, and far enough up the road to know when the bunch is slowing, changing direction to avoid other riders, pothole or other obstructions to able to smoothly match the actions of the bunch, rather than having to jamb the brakes on suddenly. Your peripheral vision should be used to keep you a safe distance from the rider directly in front of you and allow you to ride smoothly and predictably in the bunch.
- Don’t half wheel! When you’re on the front, ride at the same speed as the rider beside you. Proper races are generally the place for showing how strong you are and there are plenty of opportunities to race with CCCC and other clubs in Melbourne. If you insist on riding with your quick release alongside another rider’s tyre, they will have to surge to get back level which will cause a yo-yoing chain reaction down the bunch. At the very least this will annoy more experienced riders but can lead to crashes as well. Most regular bunches have well established tempos – if you’re struggling to keep up with the pace on the front, keep your turn short and drop to the back rather than letting your speed drop and spoiling the training for the rest of the bunch.
The perfect way to recover after a tough race the day before, while getting more miles in your legs, and getting to know more of your fellow Club Members is to join the Club’s popular training ride.
The KFC Bunch meets on Sunday Mornings throughout the winter season, at the KFC on the corner of Princes Highway, Springvale Rd and Police Rd at 8.00am.
The bunch heads down Springvale Rd to our alternative meeting point on the corner of Edithvale Rd and Station St at around 8.30am.
The bunch then rides down through Frankston, Mt Eliza and Mornington on Nepean Highway, before a left turn onto Bentons Rd, across the Moorooduc Highway to Derril Rd and a loop back into Frankston up the infamous Two Bays Rd climb.
Most riders continue on to the Clock Tower at Black Rock at around 11.00, where there’s usually time for a coffee and a chat. Distance is around 100km
The ride is not a hammer session – in fact you may incur the wrath of the bunch if you drive too hard up Oliver’s Hill or any other incline. There is also a compulsory break to wait for stragglers at the top of Two Bays Rd, so it’s suitable for everyone from A to D Grades. The typical pace is 30-34kmh on the flats.
The North Rd Bunch aka the 6 o’clock Bunch aka ‘The Hour of Power’
Leaves 6.00am Cnr North Rd + Nepean Hwy Gardenvale. Travels along Nepean Hwy to Mordialloc roundabout and back up to Cafe Racer in St. Kilda. The distance is approximately 40km with Monday, Monday and Friday being ridden at a slower pace getting back to Racer around 7.20 am. The perfect ride for those just getting started in racing. Wednesday’s are medium or ‘recovery’ pace (slow done, fast back) while Tuesday’s and Thursday’s are fast days, arriving back around 6.55am. These two days are not for the faint hearted, it’s quick and hard!
Tour of the Suburbs
Starting at 6:30pm from SBR on Punt Rd, St Kilda, this ride winds its way towards Doncaster via The Boulevard and suburban streets, before looping round to the finish in Fairfield at around 8:30.
This ride is a perfect road race training because it incorporates 4 short and sharp climbs including the infamous ‘Col de Burgundy Street’ in Heidelberg.
There are agreed ‘regroup’ points at the top of all climbs to ensure everyone can finish together at Red Rooster on Heidelburg Road in Fairfield
Post Glenvale Cres Race Ride
After the A Grade and B Grade races are over and all presentations are finished a majority of riders will ride down Springvale Rd to the beach
(where it has become Edithvale Rd) and then along Station St to Mordialloc, then Beach Rd. The bunch usually stops for a Cafe Latte somewhere down Beach Rd (Black Rock or St Kilda). A very cruisy ride after the race, a time to talk about how you could have gone if only….