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super serious racing topic(14 posts)

super serious racing topicishmael
Oct 5, 2001 5:55 PM
the discussion below about pacing had a question which wasnt answered which has nagged me for years...i dont understand tactics in racing other than the obvious benefit of drafting..what is blocking, sounds illegal...im only a cat 4 and have yet to see an instance where it doesnt work to just sit on the back waiting for the final sprint or a break...*except in crits with lots of sharp turns which can sometimes lead to a harpsicord effect if the front of the group pushes..and whats with sending out a teamate to catch and i presume slow a break...what possible tactics are out there and how do they work..
ive had alot of time to think with the zit holding up my riding
re: super serious racing topicjacques
Oct 5, 2001 7:13 PM
Catching my breath after laughing over the harpsichord effect, very cool to substitute one instrument for another, it's all music anyway, so you might have coined a new term, ishmael. It's the accordion effect, actually, but I love your harpsichord effect, it's so baroque . . . no wonder they call you ishmael.

Blocking means slowing the pack down so they will not go after your team-mate who's escaped. It's tricky and tough to do. First you go to the front of the pack. Then you SIMULATE hard work (heavy breathing, lots of upper body movement) so the pack thinks you're pulling it along out of the kindness of your little heart. That'll make them content to sit on your butt and not go around you.

Except - you're going 23.5 mph while your team-mate up the road is going 24.0 mph in the break. So you're not going quite as fast as you could. Sooner or later the pack is going to catch on to your act. The instant it does, it will come around you like a Corvette passing a Kia Rio on US Rt. 1 and go after your team-mate up the road. And the blocking cycle starts all over again - you hump it up to the front of the pack . . . .

So - blocking is the art of making the pack believe your pulling it with all your might, when in fact you're slowing it down just enough to allow your team-mate to escape.

End of blocking lesson, ha ha

Love that harpsichord effect, honest
that wasnt a jokeishmael
Oct 5, 2001 7:24 PM
whats a harpsichord then...and what is baroque..stop playing with my mind
i forgot to askishmael
Oct 5, 2001 7:31 PM
wouldnt your team jersey kinda give you away...how come they dont just pass the guy whos teamate is in a break..the next guy in line should just pull to the side and ahead...if there was 1000 dollars on the line if my teamate wins the race id pull to the side and then ahead to get him there...
good question, ishmaeljacques
Oct 5, 2001 8:08 PM
Good question. Everyone in the pack pretty much knows you're blocking. But you're PULLING. And no one wants to pull in a race. The pack is so happy that YOU are out there in the wind PULLING that they will ignore your blocking - until it gets too obvious. Believe me. It's psychology, not logic.

Remember the dynamics in a break of several riders: riders from different teams will work together like dear friends so they can get away. Bridging up to the break to "help a team-mate" is not good. Blocking benefits your team-mate much more bridging up to help him. Also, after you bridge up, you're totally wasted and of no use to anybody.

Of course, if your team-mate breaks away by himself, you could go up and try to help him. But be prepared for the whole pack to jump on your butt and follow you. If it does, he'll be pissed!
that wasnt a jokejacques
Oct 5, 2001 7:47 PM
Sorry, ishmael. I wasn't trying to play with your mind. I tried to give you a good explanation of blocking.

As for the harpsichord effect : it is really is called the accordion effect when the pack runs up into itself as it goes around a corner. The front riders barely slow down, the middle riders tap the brakes, the riders in the back cram on the brakes . . . that's why the most difficult place to ride criteriums in is in the back - 100 corners = 100 accelerations while the guys in the front get away with coasting . . .

The same effect you can see on the freeway: the front driver sees a cop and barely taps the brakes - - 20 cars back, people are crashing into one another left and right.

A harpsichord is an early piano. It was invented in what historians call the baroque era - around 1700 AD. It looks like a piano, but the strings are not hit by a little felt hammer. They are plucked by a mechanical device called a plectum. A harpsichord sounds like a cross between a harp and a banjo.
Not only race-knowledgable but artistically inclined...nestorl
Oct 6, 2001 7:45 PM
If you were a gir or I were gay I could ask you out :-).

But, I thought the H.cord was a bit older mid-1600?? early barroque?

100 corners - 100 accelerations...OH that's why I suck at crits :-).

1. I'm always at the back
2. No mountains...I am a little latin rider who gets revange when the road point to the sky :-).

Cheers, Nestor
There is more to blocking....nestorl
Oct 6, 2001 8:22 AM
jacques explanation is great but there are other ways to block which are actually used more in proam races. You can block by simply having 2 members of the same team on the front pace line. Everytime they it's their turn to pull, they slow down making others come by and disturbing the pace line. Another way is to be on the pace line but refuse to pul everytime is your turn, The confusion that happens after this slows down the paceline and the entire group.

And blocking is just ONE of many many team tactics... Amateurs are notorious for not riding as a team but when they do it is so much easier to win. Look at the Yale Univeristy, Indiana, and Airforce Academy teams at the collegiate level...They always win because they always race as a team...

cheers, nestor
There is more to blocking....jacques
Oct 6, 2001 9:38 AM
Absolutely right, nestor. I automatically assumed that ishmael's team would not work with him as well as it should. Proves your point precisely.
There is more to blocking... Yet another wayTig
Oct 6, 2001 1:32 PM
The same tactic you mentioned works while in a break away. I got to use is once during a road race that was part of a points series. Our team had a rider that was leading the points with 2 races left. A few guys that were strong were close in points. We planned this in advance and it worked. One of the strong contenders and another guy broke away with 3 miles left and I jumped on them. Everytime it was my pull I'd slow the pace by about 2 or 3 MPH. With only 3 people in the break this really broke up the pace. The break was reeled back within 1 mile. Funny thing was that going slower still wiped me out because I had to still keep up with them. A two-edged sword!
re: super serious racing topicElefantino
Oct 5, 2001 7:18 PM
As a former, brief Cat 5 who used to race in local 4-5 races, blocking is what it sounds like. And while you can't bump/lean/nudge/jam someone off at the finish of a stage of a Grand Tour, it went on all the time in my day. Shoulders, in a bunch sprint, were powerful weapons. So were elbows.
Maybe more experienced 1-2-3s can weigh in on this.
Umm... oops...Elefantino
Oct 5, 2001 7:26 PM
Sorry, Ish. I misunderstood the topic. I'm thinking blocking at the finish, you're talking about what jacques so correctly described.

I, too, appear to have been affected by the harpsicord effect. That or my 8-hour brain test today.

"Truck, arrow."
"Racoon, paper."
"Star, ladder."
"Rose, bag."


It's been a loooong day. I am sheepishly going off to sleep now.
Filling the roadMick
Oct 6, 2001 5:36 AM
If the road is narrow enough, a well practiced team will also try to block by filling the road side-to-side. I've seen this in both road races and criteriums.

The disadvantage is that it's obvious and everyone behind will immediately try to get through. The team has to be discplined to keep a high speed that is slightly slower than the breakaway's and to keep their spacing close enough to physically block others from coming through.

Inevitably either the road will widen or one of the team members will break formation and then the pack will pursue but the delay caused by this kind of blocking can be significant to the breakaway rider.

Fred Rodriguez of Domo wrote once of a favorite tactic of his which is a single rider block. If his team has a man up the road and another team is pursuing he will work his way up the front of the pursuers and then slow every so slightly.

It will only last seconds when the pursuers will come around him but then he'll work his way back to the front and slow down again. He will do this repeatedly until he can't get to the front anymore. The net effect is he has slowed the pursuit.
That works even better with a cross wind echelon -nmTig
Oct 6, 2001 1:17 PM