Belgium Knee Warmers has this great post called A Group Effort about group riding etiquette and approach. If you do any group riding, you owe it to yourself, no actually you owe it to the group to get up to speed on this:
Be a good wheel - This is a broad statement, but apply it as you will. To me, this means, keep a steady flow when riding with others, no herky-jerky, yo-yo moves. Keep the power distribution smooth, and soft pedal to control your speed and time yourself so you don't have to use your brakes unless it's absolutely necessary. Avoid bumps and holes in the road by giving the riders behind you fair warning. In some cases this means a subtle point or a verbal cue "hole," but try to reduce the amount of shouting, it creates confusion and no-one likes the startle effect it can produce. When you're at the front and responsible for the group behind you, look ahead, and when an obstacle approaches, give the group the benefit of a smooth lateral movement that begins 10 seconds in advance. This way there is a smooth avoidance. As a rider behind, watch the riders in front of you and mimic their line if you trust the wheel in front of you. A trusted wheel is sure to avoid obstacles.
Now that more riders are taking their bikes off the winter hooks, I hope we can all keep improving our skills both for our increased enjoyment but even more so for the safety of the group. Fact is I might do more club rides if I felt safer on them and the BKW post sets a great foundation. I am hoping that this year can be the safest year.
Riding skills need focused effort just like fitness so let's think skills as well as fitness as we begin another great season. Be a good wheel and we'll all be safe out there!