Does riding with the masses frazzle your nerves?

Does riding with the masses frazzle your nerves?

Today on the Ask Coach Parry Cycling podcast, we chat to cycling coach Devlin Eyden about how to overcome your fear of riding with the masses, as well as how to plan your safety strategy.

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Welcome back to yet another edition of the Ask Coach Parry Cycling podcast and just a few more days to go until the ‘fun rider world championships’ as it’s affectionately known, the Cape Town Cycle Tour, we’ve got our cycling coach on the podcast once again, Devlin Eyden, welcome back on and another great question today in from Samantha and it’s also got to do with Cycle Tour this weekend.

Samantha was saying, she’s riding her first one, she feels confident that she’s fit enough to finish, but she’s not used to riding in big groups. Is there anything she can do between now and race day to wrap her head around riding with the masses and what can she do on race day, just from a strategy perspective, to stay safe on the road?

How to get comfortable riding in big groups

Devlin Eyden:      Look, with regards to riding in groups, it is quite nerve wracking if it’s something you’re not used to. My suggestion would be in the limited time that is left, to see if you can maybe join a club, whether you’re part of a club or not, you generally are welcome to join club rides. It’s a really good way to get a feel for riding with more people on the road as well.

My advice in the next week though is also to practice things like reaching for your water bottle and that. Riding on your own, you might be quite natural, but if you are riding with someone, practice reaching for water bottles one hand off the handle bars as well. When you are in a group, it’s something you might be a little bit nervous to try, basic skill in terms of looking up at the road as well.

Basic safety strategies to practice in training

When you are in a bunch and you start moving quite quickly, the tendency is to look down at the wheel in front of you. Just keep in mind what’s happening around you, looking up at the road as well and be careful that if you are riding behind someone in front of you, make sure that your front wheel does not overlap with their back wheel.

The tendency is, there might be something in the road that you haven’t spotted, that rider moves over and clips your front wheel, unfortunately you being the rider at the back, it’s likely you’re going to be the rider that’s going to come down. Just be careful with that as well.

Also, later on into the race, it’s only usually complete carnage when you start the race in your mass bunch. Do yourself a favour there, just kind of filter towards the back, towards the outsides of the group. As the race progresses and gets onto the main highway and that, it tends to spread out quite a lot and you generally have got quite a lot of space around you. It’s not necessarily like riding in very tight peloton.

Just keep that in mind, find your own little space, find a rhythm and then more often than not, you’ll also find groups that do come past you at a similar pace to you and that you feel that you can tuck in with, it just helps your ride as well if you don’t have someone that you’re currently riding with, but again, just be on the caution of being aware of what’s happening around you and other riders movements as well.

Should you hold onto your brakes?

BB:         Devlin, that’s pretty important, particularly as a novice, is knowing what people around you are going to do because you need to almost expect the worst.

There’s some big descents as well at the Cape Town Cycle Tour, so make sure you’ve got your hands on the brakes, not necessarily slamming them on every opportunity you get, but just be wary that if you need to get on the brakes quickly, you want to be able to. That’s some great advice.

Sam, have a wonderful ride on Sunday, best of luck, let us know how it goes and don’t forget, if you have a question you’d like to get answered, all you need to do is head over to, you can submit them there on the ‘contact us’ form and we could be answering it next time out here on the podcast. Until then, from myself Brad Brown and Devlin Eyden, take care.

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