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livin' the dream....
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I was out on a solo ride this morning and caught up to a group of about 25 other cyclist. They stopped at a stop sign to regroup, I said good morning and continued on. About two minutes later, they caught me at a red light and I let them get by as we all built up speed after the light turned green.

As the last rider in their group passed me, I decided to pick it up and stay with them without getting involved in their pace line. I stayed about 2 bike lengths off the back of the group as they all took turns working through the pace line. I wanted to jump in, but I have pretty much zero group riding experience.

I felt it was safer for everyone for me to stay out of the way, but I was benefitting from their efforts. We were on a pretty busy road, with a slight down hill grade, and rolling around 26mph for about 6 miles.

My question is, was that the correct way to handle that situation? I am an experienced mountain biker, and a pretty new roadie. Thanks for the feedback.
 

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Sounds perfectly fine to me. Nothing wrong with hanging a few lengths off the back of a group of riders you don't know if they pass you. Now, if you were 6" off someone's wheel that would be a different thing. I'm not real fond of people I don't know drafting me that tightly as I have no knowledge of their bike handling skills and if they aren't riding with me I'm not passing signals to them like I would in a group ride. I'd come up swinging if some DB i didn't know was drafting me and took me down for some reason.
 

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A wheelist
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You did perfectly right. As the leader of a zillion group rides I would not have been too keen on someone I didn't know jumping into the group. I've no idea what their skill level is. You would have been very welcome to hang a 1/2 length off the rear wheel though and drop back to let the "dropping back" rider onto the last wheel. If I had a chance I'd have had a chat with you. We might have picked you up as a new group member.
 

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To me the only mistake you can make in this scenario is to actually get right on the wheel of someone without asking if it's OK. Others disagree with me on that and say "what's the harm"? To me, that is just rude and also might be a problem if I'm ahead, don't know there's someone on my wheel and do something sudden that causes a collision. I know the rear guy is more at risk, but I don't want anyone rear ending me.

So, I think what you did was perfect. You stayed a safe distance behind, did not get into the middle of their pace line and were self aware of being safe and courteous.
 

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Cycling induced anoesis
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... I would not have been too keen on someone I didn't know jumping into the group. I've no idea what their skill level is.
I agree with this. You showed every consideration in where you positioned yourself, but neglected to *ask* "mind if I tag along for a bit??"

Might just be me, because I do a lot of solo riding, but I find it disconcerting to have someone (even relatively) close without knowing their skill level.
 

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A wheelist
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I agree with this. You showed every consideration in where you positioned yourself, but neglected to *ask* "mind if I tag along for a bit??"
Might just be me, because I do a lot of solo riding, but I find it disconcerting to have someone (even relatively) close without knowing their skill level.
True........but with reservations. None of us own the road but we deserve to have guardianship of a small space all around us; for our safety. How much do we deserve? I'd get nervous if someone I didn't know was 6" off my rear wheel. But do I have the right to be possessive of anything over three feet? We lose a bit of credibility when a response to an objection is "Do you own this road?"
 

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Cycling induced anoesis
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... do I have the right to be possessive of anything over three feet? We lose a bit of credibility when a response to an objection is "Do you own this road?"
IMO, the devil's in the details on this. If I'm traveling at ~12 MPH, then three feet isn't very intrusive on "my space". Up the pace to the mid 20's range and if I don't know you, three feet is a little too close for my comfort.

Still, out of courtesy, I think someone should ask to tag along. The gesture alone would make it more likely I'd be receptive - and at some point let him take a turn at the front. Again, might just be me.

BTW, I don't think of it so much as 'my space' as I do 'my ride', but as I mentioned, I go solo a lot...
 

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is riding in MOPP4
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A bike with 700c wheels is what, just shy of 6 feel long? Factor in some riding distance and you were about 13-15 feet behind the last rider. Even at 26mph, I think that's enough distance separation. You should join a club or riding group; I think you would enjoy it!
 

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I agree with those saying that you handled the situation correctly. Hanging off the back is a lot different from trying to work yourself in.

It never hurts to ask if you can be there, but if people have a problem with your presence they can just let you know. If that happens, you just back off. In my experience, people in fast pace-lines are anything but shy and diffident about expressing themselves about anything they perceive as potential dangers.

But if the pace is high and you're still around after a few miles, it wouldn't surprise me at all if they'd assume you know what you doing and try to rotate you in (maybe even expect you to take a pull) in which case you should probably decline if you're not comfortable yet with that kind of riding.

My regular route is thick with racers in training, and it's not at all unusual for somebody or a group of somebodies to suddenly appear and latch onto my wheel without saying a word. If I don't exercise a little self-control, that can be a great first step in turning a zone 2 or recovery ride into unplanned intervals.
 

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livin' the dream....
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the responses guys. I did think about trying to get a quick word in with the guy I perceived to be the leader when he dropped back to last position, but it did not work out. They were passing hand signals back to me as we approached debris in the road, so they made me feel welcome in that regard.

I enjoyed the heck out of that part of the ride and will explore some group ride options.
 

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Cycling induced anoesis
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They were passing hand signals back to me as we approached debris in the road, so they made me feel welcome in that regard.
Then that tells me they accepted your joining them and took you into the fold.

Communication (on both sides) can take many forms, but (similar to what you offered in your OP) I think you would have been more comfortable had you opened a dialogue. But don't sweat it, all in all, you did fine....
 

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IMO, the devil's in the details on this. If I'm traveling at ~12 MPH, then three feet isn't very intrusive on "my space". Up the pace to the mid 20's range and if I don't know you, three feet is a little too close for my comfort.

Still, out of courtesy, I think someone should ask to tag along. The gesture alone would make it more likely I'd be receptive - and at some point let him take a turn at the front. Again, might just be me.

BTW, I don't think of it so much as 'my space' as I do 'my ride', but as I mentioned, I go solo a lot...
+1 ^ I'm with PJ on this one! ...It all depends upon the speed and cadence with which the group is riding. The faster the group rides, the further an outsider needs to distance himself. Bottom line is though, in this instance, you did quite well...
 

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Also depends on the group rides.

Many stores run group rides open to members only or to those who hold at least a citizens licence to the provincial cycling association. This ensures that all riders are covered by the General Liability Insurance included with all provincial club and racing licenses. This transfers liability in the case of injury from the store or club to the policy holder.

In this case your joining in will be discouraged and the ride leader should be asking you to extend the distance to one that clearly shows you not be a participant of the group.
 
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