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hand signals(9 posts)

hand signalsswordfish
Jun 5, 2001 10:04 AM
I've got a question. I'm primarily a mountain bike rider, but I just rode my first century on pavement a few days ago. Unfortunatley, I did it on a Schwinn Moab2. Lesson learned. Anyhow... I noticed that when I kept pace with road groups, the riders in front of me would periodically throw hand gestures back at me. It seemed like it had something to do with drafting them... but i really don't know. I thought for a while they were flipping me off.. or just saying hello or something... So, can anyone tell me what these signals are all about? Thanks
re: hand signalssimstress
Jun 5, 2001 10:29 AM
You didn't describe any of these gestures, so I'll just introduce a few common ones. In a paceline or just a group, it's common to point out road hazards (pothole, glass, water bottle, parked car) by pointing down at them. Sometimes riders will also yell out what the hazard is. A rider might also sweep his arm behind his back to indicate you should move in that direction to avoid a hazard.

A hand with palm out held behind the back indicates slowing or stopping, usually accompanied by yelling the same, especially if it's a sudden stop.

In your riding area, there could be some additional customs. On your next group ride, sidle up to a friendly-looking rider and ask him/her to demonstrate if any of this is unclear.
re: hand signalsRhodyRider
Jun 5, 2001 10:30 AM
Most likely they were pointing out potential hazards in the road, like surface imperfections or sand/glass, etc. This kind of courtesy gesturing becomes second nature to roadies who regularly ride in groups. When it comes time to take your pull at the front, remember to try & reciprocate; you will be much appreciated for it.
re: hand signalspeloton
Jun 5, 2001 10:31 AM
The hand signals that you were seeing were probably just warning of road hazards such as potholes, broken glass, and things of the like that could cause you problems. They can also signal direction changes, requests to pull through, or a signal that they are pulling off the front. Usually these signals are just a pointed finger, or another simple gesture sometimes with a verbal warning or command. It's just a part of road ettiquette that makes riding closely in a pack safer. You'll grow more accustomed to the body language of your riding partners the longer you ride. If you have any questions, just ask your riding buddies. It's better to know than to wonder.
re: hand signalsswordfish
Jun 5, 2001 10:40 AM
wow, thanks everyone. That really does make sense. And it helps quite a bit. I have to say, I've heard a lot about the posturing that allegedly takes place between road and mountain riders, but everyone I saw on a road bike was incredibly helpful and understanding as the poor kid on knobbies hooked on to their wheels for a little break. Thanks again.
Possibly pointing out road hazards ...Humma Hah
Jun 5, 2001 7:17 PM
... which, as a MTBer you might not have recognized as hazards at all. Stuff you can run over with impunity will trash a roadbike, and anyone leading a paceline is supposed to point them out. Some riders have some very sophisticated signals, such things as potholes, glass, and grates getting different signals. If he wanted you to back off (not an uncommon desire when someone finds an unfamiliar rider on their wheel), I'd expect you'd either get a less ambiguous signal or tactics designed to discourage you.

If you ever "lapped wheels" with him, he might signal you to back off. Very bad form to do that, more dangerous for you than him, but dangerous for both of you.
Indicating the end of a pull?Steve Davis
Jun 6, 2001 12:57 PM
Often times, the group I ride with will use a clenched fist held behind the back to indicate the end of a pull. For example, if I'm pulling the paceline, I'll make the signal before I pull over to the left so the next in line knows it's his turn at the front.

Nothing drives me crazier than fading to the left after a nice pull at the front and having the guy in the second spot fade off behind me bringing the whole paceline with him ;-). The hand signals prevent that from happening.
Indicating the end of a pull?simstress
Jun 6, 2001 2:06 PM
I was taught to point my left elbow out to indicate I am fading off to the left. I'm curious of the different ways to indicate the end of a pull. I'll have to watch for it next time. Different strokes for different folks!
just learned a new one/AND...the value of verbal cuesHaiku d'état
Jun 6, 2001 2:27 PM
actually read it in a mag and here first, but never saw it 'til recently. guess we're not as attentive in the line. smack your thigh or butt, then point in the direction you're moving to indicate you're pulling off. works wonders. drift left and it might be misconstrued as dodging obstacles, flick the elbow and it might not be seen (not so for everyone).

on my first century, i learned the value of verbal cues to supplement hand signals in large groups or pacelines. i'd have run over some flat possums a few times were it not for "ROADKILL". the verbal warning really gets your attention/gives an early heads-up as opposed to the hand signal traveling through the pack, or in worst-case, not traveling through the pack. "GLASS", "GRAVEL" and "HOLE" (these are not references to musical groups) were helpful on the ride, also. consider being 60 miles into a century and having already covered a few good climbs--the verbal cue will wake one up from a pain-induced stupor.