You are strongly advised to have insurance to protect yourself and third parties in the event of an accident. The best way to obtain this is to join British Cycling which includes insurance cover in its membership fee. (

Club rules require the wearing of a helmet. This is also sensible; if you fall off or are knocked off your bike you are likely to impact your head and a helmet could just be the difference between life and death. If you have a crash and the helmet takes any impact (even if you can’t see any damage) it is sensible to replace it.

Hand signals
Point out pot holes, tree branches, piles of manure or other hazards to riders behind you by pointing down and to the left or right. Pointing down and waggling your fingers is used to indicate gravel or other slippery surfaces. Warn riders of a car coming towards you by shouting ‘car front.’ For a car coming up behind shout ‘car back.’ When you hear the warning ‘car back’ move to the left if it is safe to do so, in order to give the car room to pass; don’t obstruct their passing unnecessarily. Putting your left arm behind you and pointing to the right indicates a parked car, pedestrian or other hazard on the left, likewise with your right hand.

Highway code
Club riders are expected to follow the Highway Code – do not ride through red lights or on the pavement; wait at pedestrian crossings; use hand signals when turning, etc. Overtaking on the inside (left) particularly when cars or trucks are turning left is highly dangerous and is a factor in many fatalities; either wait or overtake on the outside (right). Riding 2 abreast is acceptable if the road is wide enough; riding 3 abreast should be avoided. If riding 2 abreast and a car or other road user comes towards you, the rider on the outside should drop back and the rider on the inside should go ahead. If the road narrows or there are cars, ride in single file. If riding in a group, riders should leave gaps between small groups of riders so that passing cars are able to leap-frog. Avoid ‘wheel overlap’ – where your front wheel overlaps with the rear wheel of the rider in front. Any slight movement – avoiding a pot-hole or tree branch, a gust of wind, etc - from either of you is likely to bring you both crashing down.

Club runs
When on a club run, remember that you are a representative of the club. Follow the Highway Code and all the other guidance here and do not swear at or abuse other road users, even if you feel aggrieved. Club members will wait at the top of hills or at junctions for new or slower riders to catch up. Don’t worry if this happens to you – we have all been there. If you are getting left behind – don’t worry, keep going, you will catch the group.

You should ensure that you are wearing (eg a wrist band) or carrying something that clearly shows your name and the contact details of your next of kin in an emergency as well as any medical alerts or allergies. Accidents do happen, and fellow riders need to know who to contact if something happens to you. You can get an app for a smart-phone which shows your contact details on the home screen.

Punctures happen. Always carry a spare inner tube, tyre levers and a pump. Fellow club members will always assist you if you need help (with copious advice if help is not needed) but you are expected to carry your own spares and tools. Co2 pumps are effective but will generally only pump 1 tyre; if you have 2 punctures you’ll still benefit from carrying a pump.

Horse riders
There are many horse riders on the roads followed by club runs. They should be passed wide and slow. When coming up behind shout out to indicate your presence to the horse and rider; horses can be startled by a cyclist.

Mechanical break-downs can happen unexpectedly, and fellow riders will lend assistance; however, you should check your bike before setting out on a ride. If your gears, brakes, bottom bracket, cranks or other key component is not working properly it will not repair itself while you ride – get it fixed beforehand.

Cafe stop
It is good form to make a purchase at the cafe-stop. These are invariably small businesses which rely on their takings for survival. Patronage from a local cycling club is important to them and we aim to visit good cafes which offer a friendly welcome to cyclists – it is only fair that we make a contribution.

Acknowledging other riders and road users
Club members are encouraged to say hello, wave or nod at other cyclists. It will normally be reciprocated. Thank other road users (trucks, buses, cars, motor-cyclists, horse riders, workmen or women, pedestrians, etc) who do nice things eg who wait for you, let you out at a junction or hold up the traffic for you, etc, with a wave, a smile, a thank-you, a nod, or a thumbs-up – what goes around comes around and it all helps the greater community of cyclists.

Club kit
It is not compulsory for club riders to wear club kit but it is encouraged and the famous Old Ports red train has been an impressive sight on the roads of Kent and surrounds for nearly 100 years. If taking part in an event (Sportive, Road Race, Time Trial etc.) club members are encouraged to wear club kit. When wearing club kit you are an ambassador of the club and any negative actions or behaviour towards other road users will reflect badly on the club and other club members.

Unlike some clubs, the Old Portlians do not insist that riders fit mudguards. However, it makes sense to fit them in the winter months; they will protect you from the worst of the spray thrown up by your tyres – there are few things more uncomfortable than cycling while wet and cold – but they will also protect your fellow riders. An ‘ass saver’ – a piece of plastic wedged into your saddle – might protect your ass but won’t do anything to protect your fellow club members’ asses

NB: There is a lot of advice on riding technique and skills for both new and experienced riders on the British Cycling website – go to British cyling