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Wheel Sucker(36 posts)

Wheel SuckerBRO
May 9, 2001 8:50 AM
What do you do with a rider who refuses to work and only wants to sit on a wheel?

Here's the latest situation. Three of us are riding. Myself and another rider were taking turns at the front. The third rider would occasionally find himself on the front but would immediately pull to the side and slow down. When we passed, he would jump on our wheel and hang on. It was so frustrating. At one point I wanted to scream, do so work!

Any suggetions are welcome.
re: Wheel SuckerLen J
May 9, 2001 8:57 AM
Why not just tell him to work or get off?

Another option is to slow way down, let him pass and then sprint past him.

I have found that dirty looks over my shoulder at him never work. People like this just "don't get it".

In all seriousness, most of the times this has happened to me has been with inexperienced riders. Usually when I explain to them what is expected, they respond. Most have been afraid to be on the front. Afraid of not being able to lead a good pace. Try just talking to him.
so what's the problem?Dog
May 9, 2001 9:02 AM
Are you racing? Is he outsprinting you for some prize?

Maybe he's doing all he can to just hang on; you should be happy to help him out.

I take you know the guy, and this wasn't just a stranger who latched on. If it were a stranger, it might be different. You could politely tell him the other two of you would prefer to ride alone.

You didn't mention anything about him being dangerous, so that's not a concern, right?

If you really must get rid of the guy, do it the honorable way. Hammer hard up a hill.

2 situations for thispeloton
May 9, 2001 9:09 AM
1) Racing- This may be a strategic move on his part. The rider may have a teammate behind, and is trying to slow you down. He may be conserving for a sprint finish. He may also know that he needs to conserve energy to continue at the pace the gruppeto is moving at.

2) Recreational riding- He may be a new rider, and just not know any better. Explain things to him so that he can play in a fashion that won't perturb the riders around him. He may also just not have the horsepower to hold onto the group if he were to pull as well, and this is his only way to stay with you. If he is a friend, you should probably work with him in either recreational cases. If he isn't a friend, do what Doug says and drop him up a hill.
If you're not racing, what's the problem?Cory
May 9, 2001 9:36 AM
I'm inclined to blame inexperience. I'm ashamed to tell you how long I stayed in the back of groups when I started riding, just because I didn't want to seem pushy by moving to the front. I had no idea there was any advantage to being back there--I figured it would be rude to pass. Just TELL the guy.
If you're just riding for fun or fitness, though, why does this bother you? Doesn't hurt anything, and if you're doing extra work, it just makes you stronger,
Another thing.....AeroEngineer
May 9, 2001 9:50 AM
the guy in back reduces your workload a little even if he just sits on your wheel. Works like fairings and tailcones on the back of airplanes, cars, etc.
Another thing.....grz mnky
May 9, 2001 11:20 AM
Yeah, but in the order of magnitude dept. it's not really noticable and since he's not connected to the lead riders the only transfer of force is via aero dynamics. You're also operating at a pretty low Reynolds #. I know full well what you're getting at - flew jets for the US Navy for six years and spent a lot of time flying in close formation. As a lead jet you could feel when your wingman sucked up nice and close, but it never saved much fuel.

Don't think too many rider's pulling lead think gee this is great - another guy on my wheel.

The guy needs to be politely asked to take his turn otherwise he gets dropped like a bad habit.
Wheel Suck invitation12x23
May 9, 2001 6:18 PM
As a rule I take my turn, but had this happen Saturday. In the 3 State 3 Mtn century in Chattanooga I was moving at about 20 mph into a headwind trading turns with two others. We were working well (and hard!) together when we overtaken by a time trial machine on a new Cervelo (sp?) who yelled, "GET ON, IT'S FREE." So what do you do? We jumped on and worked our bums off at 27 mph plus following into the headwind. We rode at this speed MINIMUM about four miles before turning off onto a chip-seal road a couple of miles before a long climb. The three of us working so well together had the same thought - let the durnie go on up the road and get our hearts out of our throats.
RSVP= Not in Our Lifetimegimmeaminute
May 9, 2001 11:14 PM
Sorry GRZ, looks like we snagged a carp. Seen this before? One ugly fish.
Carp diem.....(sic)..12x23
May 10, 2001 10:38 AM
You're right...,I couldn't ride this fast down an elevator shaft by myself. Could you? If so, I'm happy for you. But early in a century hooked (couldn't help it) on the end of the line I/we held on as long as could.

My intent was that wheelsucking isn't necessarily bad, not when some monster yells out the invitation. Then again...,if you can't hold the wheel is it really wheelsucking?
grz mnky:blb
May 9, 2001 8:25 PM
keep it to yourself. You have made it your signature bad habit by contradicting others more knowlegeable than yourself, and you spew out erroneous information. Can it.
re: Wheel SuckerVon Zip
May 9, 2001 10:04 AM
I agree with what the others are saying. Talk to him and if he is unwilling to work with the rest of you, drop him.
Love letter from an inexperienced pack rider.bill
May 9, 2001 10:14 AM
I don't have much experience with packs or pace lines. Most of the time I ride by myself. I frequently enough fall in with strangers. It's often easier to keep a stronger pace with somebody else, even if no one is wheelsucking, and it's fun. You meet some cool people. If nobody wants to chat, that's fine; after one or two one-word or no-word responses to my "hey, nice day" or "nice bike," I leave people alone. If people seem to want a little distance, I then try to pass or try to keep a little distance.
Okay, sometimes a sort of uncomfortable situation develops. If the rider who doesn't seem to want company is about my ability, we're going the same speed. I can't help it. I'm not talking about being six inches from his wheel, I understand the problem with that, but maybe I don't have the legs to pass him and maybe I don't really feel like falling back 100 yds just because he's grumpy. Or, even if I don't want to consciously wheel suck, and I'm allowing a ten foot or so distance, I find myself catching up here and there.
I try to say something friendly and self-deprecating, but some people still seem put off by this. If someone is behind me and it's bothering me, I either dust them or talk to them. Either way is pretty satisfying. What's the damn big deal?
Just this past weekend (may have been you, Bro), I found myself behind two riders who were a little stronger than I. I kept some distance, but I kept their pace at about ten feet back. They were frequently riding abreast, a little chatting between them; didn't seem that this was all that serious business. I even said something at an intersection about whether they minded my hanging with them for awhile. One guy said, "Well, all right," as if I had asked him for money, and bolted off (actually, I was ahead of him now for awhile, but he passed me soon enough). Fine. I didn't care, really, but why get all grumpy about it? I wasn't expecting anyone to pull me, and I don't believe that anyone wanted me to pull (they weren't pulling each other, and, when the one guy was behind me, he wasn't on my wheel). But, who cares? Maybe a bike length or two or three is not a reasonable distance; I don't know. You tell me.
If the response is that I don't get, well I guess that I just don't.
I would say that most times a stronger rider encounters what you have described, you're dealing with someone who is unused to riding with others and is feeling pretty happy to keep pace with someone who is or may be his riding better. You should be flattered. I'm not, btw, talking about an inexperienced rider trying to crowd you going 40 mph on a hairy downhill; I'm talking at cruising 18-22 on relatively flat, smooth multi-use trail. It's also a little easier to keep distance on the road as opposed to the trails I usually ride.
Question about this wheel suckage deal.Delia
May 9, 2001 10:42 AM
What's the riding 'etiquette'/protocol in regards to riding in a group. If you're not competing, is it considered rude not to take turns leading? What is wheel suckage? Does someone riding close behind make it harder on the person in front. I've never experienced this and am curious to know what the deal is.
Question about this wheel suckage deal.DonB
May 9, 2001 11:05 AM
Here's a little intro on a paceline that might help you follow this thread:
Question about this wheel suckage deal.Len J
May 9, 2001 11:06 AM
Riding in a paceline, you can ride faster with the same overall effort because you are spending some(most) of your time drafting off the rider in front of you (A large percentage of effort in bike riding is expended moving through air resistance, if you are riding close behind someone, you are able to capitalize on them breaking the wind (Hopefully they don't also break wind..Sorry I got distracted)). The cost IMHO of this speed (and ability to "rest in the draft") is that you take a turn in the front (doing the harder work). When I am in a paceline where someone is never taking a turn, it feels like I am being taken advantage of. Silly, but true.
Phredgrz mnky
May 9, 2001 11:43 AM
The thing that really burns people is to have a wheel sucker back there and then at some point they take advantage of the rest and opportunity and blow past the group. I had a "friend" (actually FOF) who used to do this - total jerk - call him Phred (b/c he had Phd). The rest of us took great delight in sticking it too Phred whenever we could - he never realized what he was doing or that there was a little conspiracy going. It felt juvenile, but good, to watch him blow up and it happened frequently. He never got it or figured out what we were doing to him - talk about clueless.

I guess it all comes down to just a little bit of respect. If you don't have the juice to take a pull you should acknowldege it. Chock it up to egos. It doesn't really bother me if someone is barely hanging on and it's not going to do much good for your average speed if they get on the nose and slow way down. You're helping them out and you'd be doing all the work if you were solo any way. Had a couple ladies hop on my wheel this weekend during a century and a simple statement like, "I hope you don't mind if we hang out back here." They we there for quite a while, but when we started climbing they thanked me and dropped back. They were using me, but I didn't feel used. If you're going to sit in you should mention it.
PhredLen J
May 9, 2001 11:53 AM
Amen to that. It is about respect, but I relly think that most people that do this are clueless. As previous posters have said: "Tell them &/or blow them away"
Phred...pretty phunny....gimmeaminute
May 9, 2001 1:16 PM
I don't usually see the funny side of you grz. Well, I've read some epic recreational narcotic stuff--this is even better--and I couldn't agree more. Very good.
The pressures of life...gimmeaminute
May 9, 2001 11:24 AM
My riding partner and I face the same problem often. We usually wait to see if the rider is gonna get out front. If not, we work together to smoke then drop him. If the offending rider is strong, it just adds to the intensity of our workout. 9 out of 10 times he falls off. Then we focus on catching the guy (hopefully smarter) in front of us--lather, rinse, repeat. Don't take it personally. A few words of instruction might help, but it is better to drop him.
re: Wheel SuckerMel Erickson
May 9, 2001 12:35 PM
All of the above comments are valid. I don't disagree with people who say ask him to take a turn or drop him. However, lets take a look at the logic in this. If a third rider is sucking the wheel of two others, who are taking turns pulling, there is a very slight (minute?) advantage to the two pulling with the third rider on board. At the very least, there is no disadvantage. By dropping him you're not making it any easier on yourself and your partner. You still have to do the same amount of work at the front. All you've done is dropped someone who then has to continue alone AND work harder. That's ok but what advantage do you gain, other than the satisfaction that you taught that wheel sucker a lesson (which may or may not be true)? BTW, I'm assuming this is not a race. In that case all bets are off.
re: AdvantageLen J
May 9, 2001 12:45 PM
I don't think that it is about advantage. For me it is more about etiquette. It is all about showing newcomers what the common conventions of our sport are. That's why I suggest you talk to them before dropping them. Give them a chance to learn. I also rarely have a problem with someone hanging on the back who has asked if this is OK. It's good experience for anyone (myself included) to ride in a pack of riders who are riding faster than you normally ride. But someone who latches on, and won't pull thier weight and won't explain, well they deserve to be dropped.
Agreed nmMel Erickson
May 10, 2001 9:33 AM
re: Wheel SuckerWayne
May 9, 2001 1:01 PM
Context is everything. Was this just a guy who hooked up with your ride, a race, some random cylcist you came across while out riding? Why don't you ask him why he won't take a pull? That seems like the best way to get an answer. During the winter/early season I would go to a group ride that was for the most part was made up of people that I am stronger than. But I would rarely do any work at the front. Why? Because I justed wanted a nice easy aerobic ride, and this ride gave me people to talk to while doing it. Sure I could sit on the front and ride a Tempo pace (and sometimes I would), but that wasn't what I wanted out of the ride typically. Not doing your share of the work, only seems relevant in a race, where you could be suckering the other riders and beat them at the end. In that case you can either cajole the guy and try to get him to do some work, or start one-twoing him with your friend and force him to close the gaps. If not racing what's it hurt to have the guy along for the ride?
Rude & Crudegrz mnky
May 9, 2001 1:27 PM
You could try giving said wheel sucker the Beavis and Butthead treatment. Take turns being the next to last guy and fart, blow snot, and spew stuff from the water bottle. I know it's dropping down to the 4th grade level, but it works. I had a guy drafting me in a tri once (a non-drafting tri) who wouldn't knock it off so I squirted him in the face with some sticky Cytomax. It was a multiple loop course and he'd just do it on the long back sections where there weren't any officials. He was pissed.
Rude & Crude. Damn.gimmeaminute
May 9, 2001 1:33 PM
You took your comedy pill today, huh? You know, 007 started out this way. Perhaps a bottle of thirstquenceroftheday mixed with a dose of pepperspray will keep the 'sucker away. Maybe get him with a pro pee....
Wheel Suckers are Bottom Feedersblue bayou
May 9, 2001 3:04 PM
If you can drop one, do it. I've had a few conversations with one, but it was not a pleasant experience. Once a month or so, on a Saturday, I see one. Then I hammer like hell.
all right, Mr. Hammer[head], what do you consider abill
May 9, 2001 3:52 PM
wheel sucker? What is a respectable distance?
Hearing the wheelsuckers breathing over mine usually meansblue bayou
May 9, 2001 4:07 PM
the guy is too close. Respectable distance? 5 meters. Unless you want to get out front stay back. I would even take a breather if the guy is weaker or having big trouble staying out front. At least then he isn't a wheelsucker. Knowwhat I mean?
What's the big deal?Dog
May 9, 2001 4:07 PM
You know, if someone were being careless (running in to you), even annoying by talking incessantly (I've had this one happen), I can see wanting to drop them. Of course if you are in a race and they are not working, go for it.

But, what's the deal here? If you are strong enough to drop 'em, and they aren't doing you any good, drop 'em. I don't see the need to denigrate, though.

I'd like to see anyone who never wheelsucks 'fess up right now. I bet there is not one on this board.

At what distance is drafting no longer drafting? I know thatbill
May 9, 2001 4:22 PM
the benefits diminish with distance. My friend above suggests that 5 meters places me out of his personal space, which sounds a bit excessive. I'm not sure that he can claim that much wind blockage; I kind of doubt that there is much wind blockage from a lone rider beyond about 2 meters or so (although I would believe that there's some out to the 5 meter homestead claim, just not very much).
What's the big deal?Skip
May 9, 2001 5:39 PM
I have never wheelsucked, but only because I have always ridden alone (no group rides, races, etc.), and never had the opportunity to experience this. I would like to try it and see if, and by how much it really does help me.

Maybe your wheelsucker is totally unaware that he is wheelsucking, or what wheelsucking is, and what the propper "protocol" is. Maybe he doesn't feel experienced enough or strong enough to lead (afraid then that he will be holding you up, or getting in your way). Too many ifs, ands, and buts (butts?) without all the details though. Communication should be the first step (verbal, not physical) to establish knowledge and experience level of the riders, reasons why they are wheelsucking (to decrease their pedalling output power, socialization/friendly camaraderie, etc.), and go from there.
Butt and Suck in the Same Post? You Must Be Ron Jeromy..nmgimmeaminute
May 9, 2001 10:29 PM
Sorry BRO, i think this was me......SLO
May 9, 2001 4:22 PM
...i rode with two other guys this past Sunday (it was Sunday right?). They were clearly better riders than I was (im very new). I did my best to keep up. I took the lead a few times but couldn't hang for very long. Another thing that confused me, was that the protocol I had read regarding pace lines wasn't holding true. When the leader dropped out, he didnt move to the back, he rode next to the new leader for a while, then motioned for me to give him room to move back into the 2nd position. Hey, who was I to argue, my legs were jello at that point. I tried to stay back about 10 feet or so most of the time since I knew I wasnt pulling my weight. Next time, I'll be more forceful in taking a lead, or I'll drop out all together and go solo.

Sorry, didn't mean any harm.
i want to wheel suck...should i notishmael
May 9, 2001 8:30 PM
when im riding with friends or in a group ill pull if i can but what if im in a hasnt happend yet since ive only been in one race but what if i have the opportunity to suck the whole time and then win because im not burnt out at the sounds like a good idea but is this looked badly upon...i hope not, it is a race right..and how are they supposed to stop you anyway other than getting away from you....back to riding in friendly groups- there is one infamous guy i see ocasionally who doesnt let anyone draft anywhere near him, he is known by all to be an assshole, he's a big grump....everyone else i ride with doesnt worry about it and is happy to pull if need mostly the one who does pulling in one of the rides i do and i enjoy the freedom of not having to stare at a wheel in front of me for miles...
You should spit, swallow or dodge. Whatever you are best at..nmgimmeaminute
May 9, 2001 10:27 PM