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Riding in a Chain Gang

Aug 31, 2005
Riding in a Chain Gang

Explaining group riding

A Chain Gang is an efficient way to share time at the front. As its name suggests it is a dynamic "˜chain' of riders made up of a faster and a slower line. Depending on the wind direction the chain goes in a clockwise or anticlockwise direction to give shelter to the faster line.
Since a chaingang is made up of a faster and a slower line, you will change speed as you move from one to the other - you slow down as you change lines at the front and speed up as you change at the back. With this in mind, some Do's and Don'ts about riding in a chain gang :

  • Do ease off at the front when you change from the faster to the slower line - take the pressure off the pedals slightly, but don't brake.
  • Do avoid leaving a gap as you move across - a gap forces the rider behind to accelerate to regain your wheel - not appreciated !
  • Do let riders nearby know if you are unable to go through and intend to sit at the back of the group to recover.
  • Do warn riders if you intend to rejoin the chain after sitting in.
  • Do stay alert, not just for the usual safety reasons, but to ensure that gaps don't occur. 
  • Don't switch lines unnecessarily.
  • Don't speed up when you reach the front.
  • Don't ride erratically, keep it steady -remember the only time you should be accelerating is when you change lines at the back. Failure to observe this simple fact is the main reason why many chaingangs fall apart.


Continental Change - is a more sociable form of the chaingang where, instead of moving straight through from the faster line to the slower line, a rider will spend a few minutes at the front. The continental change is standard on the ERC Sunday club runs as it is the safest method of changing at the front.

For more advice on group riding see PezCycling News' excellent article. (Please note that we never follow rule 4's method of peeling off.)

Individuals take part in any group rides at their own risk. Edinburgh RC and its club members accept no responsibility for the safety of anyone participating in group rides, and no liability in the event of an accident. 

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