You're riding along in a pack of cyclists, enjoying the view and an easy pace, when suddenly a rider ahead of you swerves and cuts you off, sending you careening into another bike or onto the pavement for a nice case of road rash.
If you are a cyclist and you haven't had this type of experience then just wait. It will come. You just haven't been riding long enough.
Participating in a group ride, such as the Bike MS 150 on June 25-26, can be one of the most enjoyable experiences for a cyclist, with riders enjoying companionship and camaraderie on the roads.
But the good times can turn to catastrophe if riders don't obey basic cycling etiquette.
While high-speed and technical races offer their share of crashes, it is often the rides for everyday cyclists that have the highest element of danger as experienced and inexperienced cyclists share the road.
You can avoid causing a disaster by following some basic cycling etiquette.
Talk it up • Communicate with your fellow riders. This sounds like such a simple thing, but surprisingly, rookie cyclists can be way too quiet. I don't mean you should entertain a pack of riders with incessant gossip, but do let other riders know where you are or what you plan to do with loud commands of "on your left" (which means you are passing someone on the left) or "car back" (which means to give way to a car coming from behind), etc.
Stay to the right • Just as in driving a car, stay to the right, except to pass. This easy rule is broken the most frequently. Don't let your bike veer into a lane because you are more interested in a conversation or the scenery than watching the road.
Water wise • Practice moving your water bottle in and out of its cage so that your desire for a sip of water doesn't cause you to swerve and lead to 10-bike pileup.
Ride defensively • Assume that everyone is on his or her bike for the first time and has no clue how to ride. Allow enough distance between you and other riders so if they stop suddenly you won't eat their back rim.
Be courteous • Don't ride in your aerobars in a group. Point out any road hazards ahead whether it be rocks in the road, potholes or someone getting into a car.
Don't be a wheel sucker • As nice as it is to be in a group and enjoy getting pulled along in a draft, don't forget to do your share of the work, too. That means get to the front and pedal. Your goal isn't to turn a nice ride into a race, but do keep a strong pace that allows others to get a bit of a break. If you are in that spot, don't forget to pedal down a hill, too, which will allow other riders to avoid having to use their brakes.
Be prepared • Carry plenty of water and food and a few tools to fix any small problems such as a flat tire. If you see a rider stopped at the side of the road, be nice and ask what you can do to help. Remember, one day it could be you on the side of the road.
It's good to have a knowledge of safety and some good karma, too!
Lya Wodraska is a certified CHEK golf performance specialist and exercise coach.