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Drafting Etiquette?(25 posts)

Drafting Etiquette?xjeffx
Oct 11, 2001 11:19 AM
Are there some unspoken rules when drafting off someone? Am I supposed to ask permission?

A few days ago, I was riding along the trail I always ride on and was just finishing up my ride kind of poking along and this couple on a tandem came up on my left (with warning). So they passed me. And I thought, "Great! I can practice drafting off these two." (I never ride with anyone, so I never get drafting practice). So I sped up to catch up with them and got on their wheel. just so happens that they both get pissed and start waving their arms trying to get me to go around them and all this jazz. They even pulled into the left lane of the trail so I could pass in my own lane.

Was I wrong? I just wanted to draft...
Polite to ask. Tandem couple might want privacy. nmBrooks
Oct 11, 2001 11:27 AM
I would have asked...vanzutas
Oct 11, 2001 11:31 AM
There are many times when drafting is OK but both parties have to agree to it (except in a race). I would have asked them if it is OK. When I am with just a few people we only draft if one person is riding slower than the other. Yesterday for example I was a little stronger than the guy I was with. we talked most of the ride but a few times he sat behind me and rested. that is fine I know the guy and I was feeling good that day. In group rides everyone is expected to take a turn at the front. If some people are weaker than others there may be an agreement to allow the slower riders to stay back and the stronger riders to do all or most of the pulling.

I have never drafted off anyone that I didn't start my ride with. I think it is OK if the other riders express thier consent.

The main rule is this. when a rider pulls to the left, they should slow slightly and you should maintain your pace and pass them. Pulling to the left is a sign that it is your turn. If you don't take your turn when it is requested you are a horrible person. So when they went left you should have passed them and if they followed you then you would have had a wonderful time drafting. but you didn't follow the rules and you got them pretty pissed at you.

Some people just don't want to draft.

I'm a horrible person!!!!:(APG
Oct 11, 2001 11:48 AM
Drafted off a guy riding a sweet Trek this summer on the DC trails. He pulled over to the left a one point, but I wasn't sure what to do. Should've asked, but was kinda' shy. Guess I'll know for next time. I'm a triathlete who's still learning riding etiqutte. Thanks for the info!!!

and don't be drafting on those aerobars eithernm
Oct 11, 2001 11:50 AM
Oct 11, 2001 11:38 AM
a paceline/drafting on a trial?! give me a break. you're lucky there were no rollerbladers
Thats funny...Kristin
Oct 11, 2001 11:40 AM do you feel in your car when someone tailgates? There are so many reasons why this could have upset them.

* They don't know you and have no reason to trust you.
* You didn't exchange any pleasantry's with them first.
* You didn't ask (that doesn't garauntee someone will be nice, but it goes a long way towards friendliness).
* This was a training ride for them (doing intervals, etc.).
* This is hubby & wife quality together time (no budinski's welcome).

I've been on both ends of this question. First, I've riden with people who were stronger than me and I've asked them (first) if I could borrow their wheel for a stretch. On group rides, I've always received a positive response. On solo rides, I've always received a negative response. I don't even consider drafting on solo rides anymore.

Once, I passed a squirrely guy in a t-shrirt and jeans (no lid). He immediately latched onto my wheel (saying nothing). This irritated me badly. I didn't know the guy, I didn't trust the guy and I found it rude and presumptuous. Plus, as a woman riding alone... I didn't even attempt to drop him (I'm still new at this). I turned around and went the other direction.

Suggestion: If you want to learn to draft, find a club. You will receive a more postive response. Make it known to the people you're riding with that you want to improve.
The rule isMick
Oct 11, 2001 11:48 AM
You're supposed to be polite and ask. In a situation like that I wouldn't necessarily *ask* permission but I would strike up a conversation with the stoker. That way they know I'm there. If the stoker seems reluctant to talk then I'd drop off or pass - I'd take it as a hint that I'm not wanted.

Someone else posted that in a group ride drafting is expected and the etiquette calls for everyone to take turns - depending on strength.

What you'll see in a large group ride - like a club century - is a little different. The organizers will warn you to *ask* permission to draft but people seldom do.

On a club century I can't remember ever being *asked* for permission to be drafted, folks just jump on. Sometimes I notice them; sometimes I don't but I'm always glad to have company.

But whenever I'm joining a line or jumping a tandem's wheel I chat with the person in front of me. I like to ride with other people anyhow so might as well make new friends.

Your tandem couple displayed a trait I personally don't like. Some people just don't like to be drafted and I honestly don't know why. It's not like you're slowing them down or anything but they seem offended. Wish I knew why....
dangerous to them, and you, to draft unannounced...Js Haiku Shop
Oct 11, 2001 11:48 AM
myriad reasons why they might not have wanted you on their wheel. too many to list.

i'm much more careful when i know somebody's back there. this includes a higher level of riding consistency, predictability, and other stuff, like pointing out hazards, picking a line that will better afford more than one cyclist in single-file, etc.

on the other hand, there are times when pulling someone along the road can be more of a burden, when i'm out there for solo time...and then there's the chance that they were sharing some personal time and you were an interloper.

drafting is acceptable many times on the road between individual cyclists, but most often in a club or event setting. drafting unannounced in this situation may have been equivalent to invading another's personal space. you have to communicate your intentions!

also agree with K--want to learn, club is the best place for it.
We see this all the time on our commute. Kristin is right.MB1
Oct 11, 2001 11:49 AM
I just stick to Miss M's wheel. If anyone wants on I make sure in no uncertain terms that they know they are not welcome.

I've seen so many dumb accidents on MUTs, don't want any part of that.
also, re: pulling to the left...Js Haiku Shop
Oct 11, 2001 11:53 AM
in a paceline situation (with multiple riders), pulling off/to the left, if not done in an obvious manner or in conjunction with a hand signal, can cause the line behind to follow to the left, as though the front rider were maneuvering around a road hazard.

AND--in a one-on-one drafting scenario, i've pulled 'til my speed dropped a bit, and had the drafting rider come around my left and gradually pick up the pace, expecting me to fall in line. just gotta watch and learn. i've only been doing it since february.
also, re: pulling to the left...vanzutas
Oct 11, 2001 12:07 PM
What I have found is that the jesture is to look back for cars, which indicates a movement way out into the driving lane. Then when the lead rider is there often they will let up a little. When on a club ride these should be enough. Normally I don't make a good check on trafic if I am just avoiding a pothole (but I have also been hit once or twice).

some guys i ride w/ slap their left leg, point, peel off NMJs Haiku Shop
Oct 11, 2001 12:15 PM
I like that one...Its easy to miss the elbow jiggle methodKristin
Oct 11, 2001 1:14 PM
they could just have an itch or a bug in their jersey or something. Then again, I've never drafted in a whole paceline--I get dropped before the warmup is over. I usually draft with one or two people.

You've really only been riding since Feb.? wow!
nope, only riding clubs since feb...Js Haiku Shop
Oct 11, 2001 1:20 PM
been riding for a little over three years, road for around two years. got serious over the 2000-2001 fall and winter. last year <1500 miles, this year >3900 miles so far. nothing compared to other folks on the board (!), but i'm learning (and so are my legs).
others include...lonefrontranger
Oct 11, 2001 2:34 PM
Hand signals work much better and are more elegant than shrieking at the top of your lungs, especially in high wind or heavy traffic where you won't be heard anyhow. Also, turning your head to shout back over your shoulder often will cause you to wobble and/or move the bike over, particularly if you're new to riding in a group and/or not terribly diligent re: your handling skills. I've seen this cause crashes time and again, especially at organized centuries. If you must look over your shoulder in a group situation, put one hand close in towards the stem, and take the other off the bars; this will significantly dampen your steering response.

A Cat I who raced over in Europe taught me these. They are used in group / team training ride situations; you will rarely see them in a race, although you may recognize a few:

* right arm out and down to the side means slowing or braking
* left arm straight out means left turn, right arm straight out means right turn
* point out large potholes or hazards (roadkill, etc.)
* waggling all fingers on the hand as you point means glass or some other puncture hazard
* two fingers making rabbit ears in the small of the back means "railroad tracks" Four fingers means double tracks.
* a "karate chop" to the hip means a curb, traffic circle or island - followed by a hand signal indicating which way to turn to avoid it.
* open-handed tap of the hip means "jump on" or "close the gap, please"
* a discreet "arm circle" vertically means "pull through" and initiate a paceline.
* Two fingers shown on the arm circle asks to initiate a dual paceline.
* an arm circle laterally indicates a rotating echelon and clockwise or ccw indicates direction the paceline should pull off (hint: the resting line is always to the windward side so that those coming up to take a pull remain sheltered).
* right hand straight up indicates "stop" for a flat or mechanical (in racing, the right hand up signals the team car for a rear flat, left hand means a front flat)

These are the traditional ones applicable to daily situations. With the advent of team two-way radios carried on the bike by the pros, I'm sure the days of this "unspoken language" are numbered.
One more...Len J
Oct 11, 2001 5:38 PM
signal that I have been taught (in addition to LFR's):

-wave of right hand back from outside hip to middle of back- indicates that the entire line should prepare to move left (usually to avoid obstacle like parked car or car on shoulder).

please expound re: discreet arm circle. hard ti picture. nmJs Haiku Shop
Oct 12, 2001 4:59 AM
please expound re: discreet arm circle. hard ti picture. nmLen J
Oct 12, 2001 6:26 AM
Basically its a hand wave from right to left Outside to inside, signalinr the line that yo need to move out to avoid a car on the right.
Oct 12, 2001 10:39 AM
When I said discreet, it meant you're not windmilling your whole arm, just from the elbow. Similar to a traffic cop saying "go ahead".

Of course it all depends on the urgency of the request and or how many times you've had to repeat it :)
others include...mobil 1
Oct 12, 2001 11:36 AM
One important hand signal that should not be overlooked is the extension of either arm in front of you, with the middle finger fully erect. This is used as a response to the motoring public who enjoys sounding their horns while attempting to do the Bump with you.
I usually invite with explicit hand signcyclopathic
Oct 12, 2001 5:59 AM
as a leader you also responsible for warning about potential road hazards (potholes, sand/gravel, glass, etc)
pulling to the left OR rightTig
Oct 11, 2001 12:24 PM
A word of warning. Not every rider will pull to the left. They may not know better or the situation requires something different. Be prepared for anything when riding with an unknown rider.

When riding in a cross wind, an echelon paceline works best. Most riders don't know how to pull off from it and tend to go the wrong way. If the wind is from the left side of the road, the pulling rider pulls off to the left and slowly moves back and to the right (parallel with the line of riders) if the line is long. If they pull off to the right (seen it too many times) they risk hitting the folowing rider's front wheel that may be overlapped with their rear wheel. They also have to move all the way over to avoid contact with other following riders. Of course, the directions are opposite when the wind is from the right. A good echelon with stable riders will have a lot of front and rear wheels overlapped. Each rider should stay in his "lane" along the road. The more someone overlaps the rider in front, the more side distance they should build. Just some FYI's for those who have never ridden in one.
re: Pull along side and say hi.dzrider
Oct 11, 2001 12:18 PM
People need varying amouns of space to feel comfortable. I was once screamed at by a right fielder for coming over from center field to back her up. What was normal behavior for experienced outfielders was seen as intimidating and/or paternalistic to someone just learning the game. Similarly, on an AIDS ride I was stunned that so many riders thought that outlawing drafting was the right thing to do when I thought it was ridiculous to have 2000 riders and none of them working together.

In any case, when I catch other riders I pull along side, match their pace and start the conversation. If our paces match well and we're going in the same direction for a while I offer to work together and accept their answer graciously.
Thanx all. Very Helpful. nmxjeffx
Oct 11, 2001 12:27 PM