When Riding With Us…

Please read everything below BEFORE going on a ride with GravelNY. By going on one of our rides you agree to follow these guidelines. While we try to be inclusive and supportive, we will "drop" riders who don't follow our guidelines. It's important that everyone be "on the same page" for the ride to be enjoyable.

Safety Issues

Gravel is deceiving… It seems so safe, you let down your guard, and then you hit a rock and crash… Crashes are actually MORE likely on gravel. (They're just a lot less likely to kill you.)

  • Our rides are at your own risk. You are solely responsible for your actions and your safety while riding.
  • If a serious medical emergency happens while on a ride. Call 911 before doing anything else. Never leave a wounded rider. Stay with them until they're safe and under medical care.
  • Do not do something you feel is unsafe just because the rider(s) in front of you did it.
  • We recommend that you follow traffic laws. At a minimum riders must follow “Idaho Rolling Stops”. (Treat stop signs like yield signs, and red lights like stop signs - doing so reduces your chance of accidents by ~14%.)
  • Always wear a helmet.
  • High visibility clothing and flashing lights front and back are recommended so vehicles and pedestrians can be aware of your approach. (Flashing lights in the daytime reduce your chance of accidents by 19%.)
  • Do not use earbuds while riding except perhaps a single earbud that is only used for navigation instructions and does not block ambient sound.
  • Never ride closely behind someone else on gravel. Always leave enough space between you and the person ahead of you that you can see possible hazards.
  • When possible, point to or call out obstacles that could cause a flat or a crash so riders behind you can avoid them.
  • Be predictable to cars – use hand signals for turns, ride on the correct side of the road, etc.
  • Do not be overly polite with cars. Take as much of the lane as you need to stay safe. Riding on the edge of a narrow roadway encourages drivers to pass too close. Taking more of the lane forces them to use the other lane and only pass when there's sufficient room to do so.
  • Never go fast down hills on a gravel surface, especially on dirt roads. Rain washes the gravel downhill and at the bottom of the hill there are often somewhat deep sections of loose gravel which can be quite dangerous.
  • If you encounter someone on a horse, come to a full stop and let the horse rider tell you when it's safe to proceed. A spooked horse is dangerous for the rider and nearby cyclists.
  • Wooden surfaces (e.g. on bridges) are extremely slippery when wet or damp. Any type of turning, etc. can result in a crash.
  • Dirt and gravel roads are constantly changing. A smooth surface today might become dangerous and impassible tomorrow, particularly after a major storm.
  • Let others know where you are riding and when you plan to check-in or get back home.

Navigation

While people in our group won't intentionally leave you stranded out in the middle of nowhere, you should be capable of navigating routes on your own in case you get separated from the group you're riding with.

  • Have some sort of navigation on the handlebars in front of you. That can be a Wahoo or Garmin device, or a phone running Ride With GPS.
  • Know how to bring up routes on your navigation device when you're out on a ride.
  • Have a plan for what you'll do if you your primary form of navigation fails. (e.g. a backup battery and charging cable is always a good idea.)
  • Review the route before the ride and know where you can stop for things like food and fluids.

Riding Style

  • Don't rush. You're out in nature, enjoy yourself! Never try to keep up with a faster rider. Most times if they pull ahead of you they'll find a pretty, shaded spot, pull over and wait for you to catch up.
  • Ride within your skill level and experience. There are no awards for reckless riding other than a potential trip to the hospital. When in doubt, slow down.
  • Related to that… Know your "speed" and make sure you're capable of maintaining the stated pace of a ride before RSVPing for the ride. Ride descriptions will typically state a pace for the ride that's consistent with NYCC's Central/Prospect Park self test tables. If you haven't done the NYCC self test, take the speed Strava says is your average speed on a typical long ride and add 2 or 3 mph.
  • Do not "draft" the rider in front of you on paved roads unless you have good paceline skills and know the other rider is OK with you drafting them. If drafting is important to you, we recommend you ride with NYCC, not GrNY - their gravel rides will be closer to your style of riding.
  • Act like you are a “brand ambassador” for gravel cycling when interacting with pedestrians. Say “on your left/right” cheerfully, or say “excuse me”, “thank you”, “sorry” when appropriate.
  • Please follow any posted notices about bicycle riding and/or trespassing and be prepared to alter your route if needed. Rules about where you can ride a bike may change without notice.
  • When in doubt, ride single file except when passing. Many localities in the NY area have laws prohibiting side-by-side riding on roadways even though state law allows you to take the entire lane when needed for safety and there may be space for someone to ride next to you.

Self-Sufficiency

  • Have basic tools needed for fixing a flat and other common problems, and practice using them before you need them.
  • Make sure your equipment is ready for the ride. Do an "ABC Check" (Air, Brakes & Chain and everything the chain touches) before each ride.
  • Make sure your tires are appropriate for the surface conditions of the particular ride. There are many forms of "gravel" some can be done on "skinny" tires, others require fairly wide tires. The ride descriptions will usually state what width of tires are recommended for the ride. But in general:
    • Cinder trails like those in Tallman Mountain State Park can be done on standard, skinny, 25mm road bike tires.
    • 35-51mm tires are recommended for dirt trails like the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail, though strong riders do fine on 28mm tires.
    • 38-53mm tires are recommended for dirt roads like those around Cold Spring, though strong riders may be fine on 32mm tires.
  • Bring lots of fluids and snacks - gravel routes often go where there are no businesses, so few chances to stop and buy something.

If you have a mechanical problem with your bike during the ride that can't be fixed the group will continue on after you've called an Uber to come pick you up.