Mountain Bike Tips

10 Tips for Group Mountain Bike Rides

July 20, 2018

5 Mountain Bike Riders riding in a line, on trail under a blue sky

Group moun­tain bike rides are an amaz­ing way to meet new peo­ple, learn new skills and dis­cov­er new trails. Moun­tain bike club rides or orga­niz­ing a group of friends to bike togeth­er offers up a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ence than rid­ing on your own. When rid­ing in groups, you may be more like­ly to push your lim­its and try dif­fer­ent line choic­es as you’ll feed off the skills and moti­va­tion from oth­er rid­ers. Whether you’re learn­ing from rid­ers in the group or teach­ing rid­ers, you’ll be improv­ing your skills along the way. 

To get the most out of your group ride and ensure every­one has a pos­i­tive expe­ri­ence, you should become famil­iar with the fol­low­ing group ride tips.   Whether it’s a group of friends or a club ride where you don’t know any­one,  it’s impor­tant to review the fol­low­ing before set­ting out on the trail. 

1. Agree on a Route

Talk to your fel­low rid­ing bud­dies before leav­ing the trail­head. Agree on a pre­ferred route and cre­ate a game plan. Take into account every­one’s skill lev­el, knowl­edge of the area, trail con­di­tions, how long every­one would like to ride for and what trails the most novice rid­er in the group would be com­fort­able riding. 

A group of a dozen mountain bikers standing next to or sitting on their bikes relaxing and looking towards the camera

2. Be Prepared

Make sure all rid­ers are self-suf­fi­cient or that there are a cou­ple des­ig­nat­ed rid­ers that can assist with trail­side main­te­nance issues. To avoid main­te­nance issues, do a bike check before leav­ing the trail­head and have each rid­er check the following:

  • check the tire pressure
  • check the quick release skew­ers to make sure they are locked 
  • test the brakes 
  • lube the chain 
  • check the shifting

Ensure all rid­ers have the appro­pri­ate safe­ty gear to ride and have the basic tools to fix a flat tire or a bro­ken chain.  Here is a basic list of items each rid­er should have:

  • water
  • trail­side snack 
  • spare tube, patch kit 
  • hand pump
  • mul­ti-tool with chain breaker
  • chain lube 
  • tire lever 
  • spare dérailleur hang­er (espe­cial­ly for longer rides) 
Group of riders posing on their bikes for a group photo with a lake and mountains of British Columbia in the distance

3. It’s Not a Race

Ok, depend­ing on the group… maybe you want to race!   There will always be faster rid­ers and slow­er rid­ers. It’s impor­tant to respect and man­age dif­fer­ent paces appro­pri­ate­ly to make sure every­one has a great rid­ing expe­ri­ence. After all, it’s not a group ride if the fastest rid­er speeds ahead all the time and does­n’t wait to regroup. Iden­ti­fy stop­ping points along the trail for group mem­bers to recon­vene. Plus, the moments when rid­ers come togeth­er are usu­al­ly the best — it gives peo­ple an oppor­tu­ni­ty to talk about the sec­tion of trail they just ride, laugh at their near-miss wipe­outs and pump each oth­er up for what’s ahead. 

Two people on mountain bikes going up a trail on a hill with mountains in the distance.

4. Leave Space

Nobody likes it when anoth­er rid­er rides their back wheel. Leave enough space between each rid­er so peo­ple can stop safe­ly if the per­son in front of them crash­es or stops suddenly. 

Looking down on two Mountain Bikers riding on a curvy trail through the woods

5. Stop and Session

Group rides are an amaz­ing way to improve your skills. If there is a sec­tion of trail you’ve always strug­gled with ask for point­ers from rid­ers that can clean it. Watch oth­er rid­ers tack­le the obsta­cle,  and take into account their body posi­tion and line choice. Then, try it and ask for feedback!

Group of mountain bikers standing and watching the guide crouch down to demonstrate technique

6. Trail Etiquette

When rid­ing in large groups, it’s impor­tant to prac­tice prop­er trail eti­quette and be respect­ful of oth­er rid­ers and trail users. Fol­low these tips :

  • Respect trail closures
  • Leave no trace
  • Con­trol your bike
  • Don’t scare animals
  • Yield appro­pri­ate­ly 

If you’re descend­ing, yield to rid­ers that are climbing.

Yield to all oth­er trail users (hik­ers, horse­back riders). 

Antic­i­pate oth­er rid­ers when going around corners.

5 Mountain Bikers with lots of space between them riding in a line down a trail in a valley surrounded by mountain

7. Watch for Forks 

Keep the group togeth­er and watch for forks in the trail. In gen­er­al, try to have the first rid­er wait at forks and allow time for the group to recon­vene. If rid­ers don’t want to wait, make sure each rid­er  calls out “LEFT” or “RIGHT” to inform the rid­er behind them which way to go.   The rid­er behind should call out “OK” to com­mu­ni­cate they know which way to go, and then pass the mes­sage onto the per­son behind them.   Fin­gers crossed it does­n’t turn into a game of bro­ken tele­phone!   Ulti­mate­ly, your goal is to leave no one behind! 

Two mountain bikers stopped to talk in a field of brown grass while looking out over hills and a lake

8. Know Your Limits

Thanks to the moti­va­tion of oth­er rid­ers, it’s easy to push your­self on group rides and step out of your com­fort zone.  At the same time, be sure to rec­og­nize your lim­its and only push your­self so far. 

Looking over mountain bike handlebars at two other riders going over large, red rocks

9. Check In

Through­out the ride, be sure to check in with your fel­low rid­ers. If you notice some­one falling behind, wait for them to ensure they still have a lit­tle fuel in their tank to fin­ish the ride. We all have off days and excel in dif­fer­ent areas.  It’s always a great feel­ing to be moti­vat­ed by oth­er group members. 

Mountain Bikers resting while sitting on the ground and a bench on top of a mountain, looking out over the valley

10. Celebrate

Per­haps the best part of rid­ing with a group of riends is the post-ride chats, jokes and bev­er­ages.  Moun­tain bik­ing brings peo­ple togeth­er and cre­ates a rock sol­id com­mu­ni­ty of peo­ple who want to share their pas­sion for two-wheeled adven­tures. It’s time to hold your post-ride beer up high and cheers to the ride, and the moments you’ll nev­er forget. 

Group of 8 women standing and one man crouching in front of many mountain bikes hanging from ceiling of bike shop