Riding in a group is fun but can be challenging. The fun is that riding closely behind a rider can save you up to 30% of your energy. This generally means that by sharing the front of the group, you might be able to ride as much as 30% faster and farther by riding in the “draft”. The energy saving depends on how close you ride behind the front rider. Riding closely behind another rider however, requires concentration, practice and a steady riding style. When riders are riding behind you, they expect they you will be their eyes, and alert them of any dangers that might be quickly approaching. They also expect that you will not slow, stop or make radical changes of direction suddenly. If you do, you put both riders at risk of colliding. Constant vigilance and a smooth consistent riding style are the keystones of group riding.
Steady riding style should be practiced on your solo rides. Smooth turning of the pedals, not stomping on them, is an important skill which leads to a smooth and straight line riding style. Smooth pedaling is an art. In order to achieve smooth circular pedaling, first start with a good bike fit and second, plenty of practice. The cadence of pedal tuning should be on the higher side, around 80 rpms, not lower, unless going uphill, when your cadence might normally be slower. Plenty of practice pedaling in circles, not squares, is the most important skill necessary to efficient, safe and gratifying group riding.