It is vital that you know how to ride your bike safely. If you are under 16 years of age, your parents must be satisfied that you can do this before you join the club, as we cannot take responsibility for your safety if you ride badly. Poor riding would also make you a danger to other riders in the group. If your parents are in any doubt about your riding safety they should accompany you on your first few rides or discuss the matter with Michael.
Ideally all young participants should have taken and passed a Cycling Proficiency Test at their local school. We are prepared to accept other youngsters as long as we know that they may need extra supervision during the rides. In general, be sure that you know the Highway Code as it applies to cyclists before you come on the rides, and make sure that your bike is in roadworthy condition at all times.
In a group, your actions always affect other cyclists behind you. And whilst you will be more obvious to other road users when riding in a group, you can also be more of an obstacle. The following guidelines will probably be obvious to senior riders, but should help younger members to ride safely within the group: please take the time to learn them before you come out on your first ride.
  • Ride carefully and safely at all times, setting a good example to other road users. Experienced members should take special care to set a good example to newer, less-experienced members.
  • Never race down hills. This situation encourages you to take risks on bends which you would not normally take. If you feel you need to prove how fit you are you can always race uphill in complete safety.
  • Keep well in to the left unless you can see that it is safe to do otherwise.
  • Never overtake on the left hand side unless the person you're overtaking has told you that you can.
  • Never ride more than two abreast, and always ride single file on busy main roads or narrow roads.
  • When changing from two abreast to single file it is normal for the inside rider to go forward and the outer rider to drop behind. In a big group it is important that the leading riders do not slow down unnecessarily.
  • When stopping, do not obstruct other traffic, including other cyclists behind you, and on narrow roads try to get off the road.
  • If you have to stop for any reason, try to make sure the other riders know. If you just 'go missing' it may be a while before your absence is noted and the Section comes back to look for you.
  • If you find yourself left behind for any reason and you don't know where to go, either stop and wait or continue along the road you are on without turning off. Leaders always check that all riders are present before they turn off a road. If you are in front and you do not know the route, stop at the first junction you come to.
  • Riding in a group takes care. DON'T do anything unexpected.
  • Follow the Country Code at all times, leaving everything exactly as you find it. Be especially careful not to leave any litter, not to disturb wild plants or animals, and to close all gates you have opened. Stick to marked paths and avoid causing unnecessary erosion (by skidding for example). You will cycle through many areas of outstanding natural beauty on your rides, and it is your responsibility to ensure that it will still be there after you have passed, ready for other people to enjoy.
Dartmoor Code of Practice
The Dartmoor National Park Authority have recently published the following guidelines for cycling on the moor:
  • Ride only on bridlepaths, byways, public highways and other permitted routes.
  • Choose not to cycle off road in wet conditions when most damage is likely to occur.
  • Stick to the line of the path, in single file if necessary, to prevent widening of the path.
  • Make your presence known to and give way to walkers and horseriders.
  • Take care not to frighten animals.
  • Walk through farmyards.
  • Keep noise to a minimum.
  • Cycle in small groups and avoid bunching.
  • Keep to a moderate speed, especially when going downhill. Beware of unexpected obstacles, particularly round bends. Avoid braking heavily, especially on grassy surfaces which can be easily damaged.
All of the guidelines are sensible, showing respect for the rights of walkers, horseriders and farmers as well as minimising damage to the moor. We have always tried to follow similar guidelines in our club, but there are a number of people in Devon who ride their mountain bikes selfishly, giving mountain bikers a bad name and making it necessary for the National Park Authority to take action.
We hope that all of our members will follow the code of practice, when riding on their own as well as when riding in the club, thereby helping to establish a better image for mountain bikers in Devon.