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Best way to look over your shoulder without drifting(17 posts)

Best way to look over your shoulder without driftingTexas Spinner
Aug 19, 2002 2:37 PM
I was riding in a double paceline this weekend. I was at the front with another rider on my left. As we came up a two-lane service road I looked left over my shoulder to check to see if a car was coming from an exit ramp. It was a quick look, but I drifted into the rider next to me. I darn near took him out and myself as well. He actually had to swerve off the road to keep his balance.

Who should check in a paceline for merging traffic and what is the best way to look over a shoulder and not drift right or left depending on which shoulder that I'm looking over?
Best way? A MIRROR!DougSloan
Aug 19, 2002 3:01 PM
I'm serious. The Take a Look is perfect for this.

Otherwise, just practice. When alone, try riding right down the stripe on the road while turning around. I find it helps to sort of move your body the other direction to get it out of the way, too.

Agreed: Glasses or helmet-mounted mirror. nmfbg111
Aug 19, 2002 3:19 PM
Yup, yup ... definitely a mirror.Humma Hah
Aug 19, 2002 5:27 PM
What's behind you is important, but not as important as what's in front of you. Look back while looking forward. A mirror's the ONLY way to do that.
Well, if you don't want to use a mirrorMel Erickson
Aug 19, 2002 3:32 PM
drop your left arm off the bar to your side, lower you left shoulder, turn your head and look (don't turn your torso). This helps prevent you from pulling on the bar with your right arm and swerving left.
re: Best way to look over your shoulder without driftinglegs
Aug 19, 2002 3:45 PM
always drop off the back (or pull off )of the pace line before you pull any stunts especially if you are a beginner.. you have to trust the guys you are riding with...

the best way to look back is to leave one hand on the top of the bars.. i.e, when looking over your left shoulder take your left hand off.. your right side will counter balance... riding erratically in the pace line will just leave you a marked person.. (marked as the guy that doesnt know how to handle a bike and is a danger to others)
you should know how to ride blindfolded without drifting.. this will come with hours in the saddle...
or by taking a skills clininc.
re: Best way to look over your shoulder without driftingTexas Spinner
Aug 19, 2002 4:26 PM

Already took a skills clinic and have ridden about 4,000 mile this year including "Tour of Colorado". Still feel like a noob and keep finding little things that can get you in or out of trouble.

Definitely would have been a marked man if I'd brought the other rider down. That's for sure
Practice, practice, practiceKerry
Aug 19, 2002 4:47 PM
It's just as much practicing doing it without swerving as it is technique. The trick is to do it often, and do it consciously. Focus on getting the quick look while keeping the bike straight, not on any specific method. The Effective Cycling course refers to these as "head checks." I've seen people do the "keep one hand on the bar while turning to look" as mentioned in another post, and some of those people have swerved badly, so that method is just as bad (or good) as any other. There are many mirror advocates, but many of the people I have ridden with that used mirrors seemed to wander around while trying to aim the mirror. Many others seem never to use their mirrors (at least the ones I encounter on our local roads). The "look back" skill is just like any other cycling skill, it must be practiced to get good at it.
Practice, practice, practicerollo tommassi
Aug 19, 2002 6:05 PM
This is how I was taught:

Keep both hands on bars, either on tops or hoods.
Tuck chin into left shoulder (if left is totally unnatural, you can use the right, but always use the same shoulder)
Move eyes to left corner to see rearwards. Forward movement perception is kept with quick movement of eyes back to center or to right corner.

but, kerry is right, practice practice practice. Rollers is a good idea too.
re: Best way to look over your shoulder without driftingPseuZQ
Aug 19, 2002 4:48 PM
To look over left shoulder:

Right hand on middle bars tops near the stem, left hand behind you on the saddle.

Reverse for right shoulder.

Learned this in clinic taught by EC instructor.
re: Best way to look over your shoulder without driftingflying
Aug 19, 2002 5:09 PM
Mainly it is that you must relax the grip on the bars.
Simple if your locked elbow or gripping the bar when you turn it turns.

My advice is ride rollers ;-)
re: Best way to look over your shoulder without driftingsiclmn
Aug 19, 2002 6:21 PM
Use the mirror. Try driving your car without a mirror and turning your head each time you want a look. It will wear you out. That is what people do on long rides. They are always turning their head to look behind for hundreds of times on a long ride. I just flick my eye to my mirror and I can see everything.
Relying on mirrors is a bad idea.SnowBlind
Aug 19, 2002 8:01 PM
You would'nt do it in car (at least, I hope not) where you have the respect of 2000lbs of steel if you miss the car in the blind spot, so don't do on a bike, where you got 20 oz of funny clothing.
Learn to turn your head (as has been mentioned) and use your eyes and your ears. If my cat could catch mice, insects, and birds in flight when she was TOTALLY blind, your puny simian ears can hear a noisy combustion driven vehicle coming up behind you. Use that head for more than a just a heat sink!
Fighter pilots and us cyber wannabee's call it "situtational awareness".

Also, in a paceline, the guy comming off the back of the line is responsible for checking for cars before he jumps back on to the end.
Ausuming a counter clockwise double, as you got to the end of the left line you would glance over your shoulder, and call "carback" or some such to alert the others.
duh. Use a mirror!gregario
Aug 20, 2002 4:16 AM
I just have to laugh reading these posts about learning to look behind you. Yes, it is a valuable skill that you should learn but gimme a break, a mirror is just so much easier and safer. Just a glance is all it takes to know what's going on behind you.

I hear the term "situational awareness" being thrown around. Seems to me that a mirror can only help that.

I don't race so maybe that's it. Mirrors aren't cool. Are they against the rules??
Holy Sh|t, THAT WAS <i>ME</i> YOU DRIFTED INTO!!!Tig
Aug 20, 2002 6:20 AM
Don't worry, I'm not pissed. I'm glad you are concerned enough to try to improve and not repeat mistakes. That counts quite a bit. We have ALL made plenty of mistakes! Oh, I was on the right (Wolf Pack team kit) and you were on the left of the line. I'm glad I used to race MTB (for the huge rocks and gravel I ended up in) and track, 'cause a big guy like you sure can lean!

The "Take A Look" mirror sounds like a great product. I like to look under my armpit or at shadows if available for closer objects like another rider. The main thing to do when looking back is to do it quickly. The other thing to do is to drift to the outside of the paceline slightly before looking. This gives you more room for safety and prevents the following riders from blocking your view. Make sure you don't stop peddling, and perhaps you might even want to pull forward just a few feet.

Usually we drift towards where we are looking when looking over a shoulder. When trained to countersteer to make up for this naturally occuring tendency, we sometimes over do it (at least I have).
Aug 20, 2002 6:31 AM
Mirrors or not, it's still a good skill to practice, when you're riding alone.

I found the trick to a quick look is to really be aware of where my eyes are focused. Just "aiming" over your left shoulder is not enough, you can miss stuff. This may sound obvious, but I have watched people in cars glance my way and not see me, even in a car!

Move your head, but as little of your torso as possible, the chin tuck method. Keep the rest of your upper body relaxed.

Re: mirrors in cars, I never change lanes relying solely on my mirrors, I always look. Driver's Ed. 101.

If you were on the right of the pace line, with a guy to your left, and any potential traffic would come from the left, I seems to me he should have been doing the looking. And why would he swerve off the road? Were you riding toward the left margin on a one way frontage road?
Looks like Tig answered the last questions.(nm)theBreeze
Aug 20, 2002 6:34 AM