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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I went for a ride with seven other riders. 6 were very strong and fast (well faster than me!) It was an interesting experience but I have some questions.
Drafting - one of the guys told me to draft behind him. I have never done this before and I was not sure about it. It seemed to take an awful lot of concentration on my part to keep in the correct place. Will this decrease as I get stronger or have more experience?
also how do you see the potholes and bumps coming when you are drafting and yes he was trying to point them out to me.
Corners - when you come to a right turn should the group go around single file or is it common to pull out and then back in line? I did not want to cause a crash. We were going at a pretty good clip and most of the roads required single file because of traffic.

I did not have a computer on the bike I was on but during the ride I asked one of the guys about the average he said we were averaging 19mph. We went for around 20-25 miles I think. I was really at my top limit to keep up with them and was back a bit most of the time. My average has been 16 mph so jumping to 19 was a stretch. I was trying out a new bike the Specialized Ruby which is faster than my bike.
I think pushing myself to 19 for that distance was a stretch but maybe you have to do that sometimes to get better?
 

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Drafting - It'll get easier once you stop starting at the wheel in front of you. With practice it will be second nature. Hope they taught you how not to cross wheels with the guy in front of you.

Potholes, bumps- are not seen, but rather the riders in front of you should point them out which will allow you time to avoid them.

Corners - just follow the line that everyone else has taken.

Yes, you should ride with better riders to get better, but you should also ask them questions. Whenever you are riding and feel too far out of your comfort zone...then you probably are. This is when crashes can happen, so be careful.
 

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Don't stare at the bike or rider just in front of you. Look past them up the road. You can't see everything but when something happens (like the pace line swerving to avoid a pothole or a car) you can see the riders ahead moving and will be prepared.

Try to not use your brakes. Move slightly to the side to catch a bit more wind and slow down. If you do have to brake, brake very gently. You don't want to change speed suddenly as you may crash the rider behind you.

It takes a lot of practice to get comfortable riding in a group.
 

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Initially it takes a lot of focus and concentration. As you become more experienced and skilled it eases up a bit but the focus is always there. ericm has the right of it...good advice.
12 ish inches or a bit more is just fine for a good draft.
 

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FluffyWhiteDogs said:
I went for a ride with seven other riders. 6 were very strong and fast (well faster than me!) It was an interesting experience but I have some questions.
Drafting - one of the guys told me to draft behind him. I have never done this before and I was not sure about it. It seemed to take an awful lot of concentration on my part to keep in the correct place. Will this decrease as I get stronger or have more experience?
also how do you see the potholes and bumps coming when you are drafting and yes he was trying to point them out to me.
Corners - when you come to a right turn should the group go around single file or is it common to pull out and then back in line? I did not want to cause a crash. We were going at a pretty good clip and most of the roads required single file because of traffic.

I did not have a computer on the bike I was on but during the ride I asked one of the guys about the average he said we were averaging 19mph. We went for around 20-25 miles I think. I was really at my top limit to keep up with them and was back a bit most of the time. My average has been 16 mph so jumping to 19 was a stretch. I was trying out a new bike the Specialized Ruby which is faster than my bike.
I think pushing myself to 19 for that distance was a stretch but maybe you have to do that sometimes to get better?

+1 don't stare at the wheel in front of you. Or any other moving part on the bike in front of you. Don't cross wheels either - better to hang back a bit rather than to overlap a wheel and the person in front of you comes out either way and clips your wheel.

A better place to look while pacelining is to look over the left shoulder of the person in front of you. Looking at this place won't induce the hypnosis of the gears, spokes, jockey wheels, chain, and shadows with the added bonus of being able to look ahead a bit to see what's coming up. You'll be able to gauge your distance after a bit too. Until you get the 6th sense of the distance an occasional - brief - look down at the wheel in front of you will help you to estimate the distance by looking at the shoulder in front of you.

Once you get into a group of people that you can trust while pacelining, it's a incredible rush. I have found the best way is to have the guy in front pull for about 30 seconds and then peel off to the left. This way everyone gets a chance to rest in the slipstream. Doing this with 10 people means you only have to pull every 5 minutes or so.

Have fun and be careful!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the responses that is helpful.I will try not to stare at the wheel but I was so scared I would not be in the correct position either too close or too far away.

I hope I get the chance to ride with experienced riders again and practice this.
 

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It might be better to hang back a little until you have more experience. The closer you get to the wheel in front of you, the greater effect, but the danger is greater too. If your front wheel touches the rear wheel ahead of you you'll be on the ground in a heartbeat. The guy's in front probably won't fall, but you almost certainly will. Leaving a larger gap will still give you the advantage of shelter and when you become more experienced and know and trust the rider(s) ahead you can get closer a little at a time. When I ride centuries, metrics, or even 50s I frequently find myself in a pace line with riders I've never seen before. Even though they might look like they know what they're doing, I'll leave some extra room until I'm sure.
 

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One other small thing. When in the pack, regardless of how well guys try to mark obstacles, there are going to be times when you just blast into a pothole unexpectedly. Always keep a good grip on the bars, and your elbows loose.
 

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ericm979 said:
Don't stare at the bike or rider just in front of you. Look past them up the road. You can't see everything but when something happens (like the pace line swerving to avoid a pothole or a car) you can see the riders ahead moving and will be prepared.
I happen to ride in the Bay area where there tends to be some traffic, but also a pretty good cycling community. While we can't just take over a road, we have good bike lanes and stuff. Point is that I will often get into a group of people I don't know. When I draft behind people I know and trust, I'll sit right behind them knowing that they won't stop suddenly, the won't swerve, and if I just stay on their line, I won't hit any holes in the road.

When I'm with people I don't know, I'll often ride 6 inches to either side - especially if the guy in front of me is tall). I won't overlap wheels, but I tend to like knowing what's coming down the road. Where I ride, there is almost always enough room for this on the bike lanes and I can be sure I won't be in the way of car traffic. Also, being 6 inches off to the side (assuming you pick the correct side) usually helps since it's rare that you have a direct headwind - it's really coming in from an angle anyway 90% of the time.

Also, while it's great to ride at a pace that is harder than your norm in order to get stronger, if I don't know the group and they are going harder than I'm comfy with, I'll just let them go.

Point is, you'll get good at the drafting, but don't feel like you have to push it to the limits of being comfortable. Stay safe first.
 

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You can see far enough ahead, in a small group, to keep an eye out for road obstacles. Part of looking through the bike in front of you is to keep a reasonable distance and to see what is coming.
The riders in the front will move to go around dangerous obstacles. Your focus also takes in such moves and you begin, mentally at least, to prepare to move or ride through/over the obstacle.
Practice being aware of everything around you while not focusing on one thing so hard that you miss everything else until too late.
The more you practice the better you get at it.
 

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You can see far enough ahead, in a small group, to keep an eye out for road obstacles. Part of looking through the bike in front of you is to keep a reasonable distance and to see what is coming.
The riders in the front will move to go around dangerous obstacles. Your focus also takes in such moves and you begin, mentally at least, to prepare to move or ride through/over the obstacle.
Practice being aware of everything around you while not focusing on one thing so hard that you miss everything else until too late.
The more you practice the better you get at it.
 
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