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Group Etiquette questions(22 posts)

Group Etiquette questionsrightsaidfred
Jan 5, 2003 9:07 PM
I have only been on one group ride. It had 6000 participants. Now, I am feeling the urge to ride with people (to make them take the wind, of course). But how do I do it?

Today, I caught up to a man that was going slightly slower than I was, but I wanted to practice, so I snuck up behind him. I felt really odd doing this. He didn't know I was there for a while. Then as we went over lil bumps and bridges that gave a "th-thunk" sound as we crossed, he took notice. He seemed to get a bit nervous, and kept looking to the side of him (perhaps checking our shadows). I backed away, so that there was room for another bike or so between us. But I still felt like a creepy stalker. As he turned off the main path, I kept going, because I didn't feel comfortable.

How do you do this sort of thing? Do you ask permission? Do you sneak up? How close should you be off his tire? How do you know when to pass to the front and "pull?"

Please help!
You've got to communicatemickey-mac
Jan 5, 2003 9:13 PM
"Sneaking up" and drafting without saying anything is a big mistake. You should have said hello and asked him if you could sit on for a while or, even better, you should have taken the lead and asked if he wanted to sit in for a while. This seems like the best option, especially because you rode up on him. Never assume someone wants to ride with you, no matter what a great guy you are.
re: Group Etiquette questionssctri
Jan 5, 2003 9:15 PM
Maybe start with a hi, or hello...
Just a suggestion, ask if you can grab a wheel, and take it from there

I have heard of the odd rider being a little less than comfy with riders popping up behind them

mickey-mac snuck that in seconds before me.. lol (NM)sctri
Jan 5, 2003 9:17 PM
I'm a sneaky guy (nm)mickey-mac
Jan 5, 2003 10:18 PM
You're lucky he didn't cap-spray you! (nm)Alexx
Jan 6, 2003 6:52 AM
Or give you a good snot rocket in the face (nm)ColnagoFE
Jan 6, 2003 7:35 AM
re: Group Etiquette questionslonebikeroftheapocalypse
Jan 6, 2003 7:08 AM
You should definitely say hello. You would have creeped me out. I'm not fast but occasionally i will catch some one and pass them and I always say hello. If they seem friendly I will ride with them for a while and try to strike up a conversation, if not I leave them alone and go on my merry way. To me there's nothing more irritating than cyclists that won't acknowledge each other on the road.
I was nervous!rightsaidfred
Jan 6, 2003 7:16 AM
I didn't know what to do. I thought, "If I say something all the sudden, I might cause him to flip out and crash." The longer the silence went by, the more awkward it became. I was also nervous, cause I didn't know what to say. I know you guys have your crazy lingo and hand signals and whatnot. I would never have thought to ask in your code "Can I grab a wheel." Or whatever it is.

LOL. I feel like a weirdo now. That guy probably thought I was a psycho.
that's a pretty good cluemohair_chair
Jan 6, 2003 7:38 AM
You are a psycho in my book, although you can probably be redeemed. Never sneak up on someone and grab their wheel. It's really bad etiquette, and as you saw (and feared), it freaks people out.

A lot of people riding alone just want to be left alone. You have to respect that. If the wind is crazy, you might ride up next to the guy and ask if he wants to team up. Sometimes, I'll say "jump on" to a rider who I see struggling as I pass them.
Good Question.Len J
Jan 6, 2003 7:53 AM
As others have said, it is bad etiquette to "sneak up" it's also dangerous, to both of you.

Easist way is to start to pass him wide left and call "Bike left". he will probably move slightly right (if room allows). Don't wait until you are on top of him to call out as this may startle him. Once you know he knows you are back there ride up beside him and chat. Ask him if he minds if you grab his wheel. If he says no, OK.

Why is it dangerous?

1.) He may slow or stop suddenly (not knowing you are there) you overlap wheels and one or both of you go down.

2.) The lead rider in a line is responsible for pointing out obstacles. If he doesn't know you are there, he could swerve to miss somthing & you might run right over (or into) it.

You were lucky (as was he). If you see him again, it's good form to apologize. Explain that your new & it won't happen again. Who knows, you might end up with a riding bud.

Find a local club that does regular group ridesKristin
Jan 6, 2003 7:29 AM
Its more dangerous for you to sneak up than the other guy. The person on the rear is on the losing end. If you overlap because he didn't know you were there--or just because he's goofy--then you'll go down. The best way to learn pack riding and pacelining is to join a club that rides like that. Get to know some of the guys at a local club ride and then ask them to show you. Talk to your LBS and let them know what you are looking for. They can probably hood you up with a good group.

I got lucky and learned pacelining pretty early. But the part that helped me find teachers is something I'm afraid you lack. A second X chromosome. So you may have more of a challenge finding willing teachers than I did. I showed up one day to a group ride that had been rained out. There were three guys there. One of them talked me into riding as a motivator for the other two and off we went on wet roads. Since I was slow and it was raining anyway, they taught me pacelining skills. (NOTE: If you are going to learn to pace behind an mountain bike on a rainy day, you can leave your water bottles at the car.)

Seriously though, find a group. Make some friends. Then just be sincere and willing. They'll teach you.
re: Group Etiquette questionscommuterguy
Jan 6, 2003 8:37 AM
Last summer I related an incident here that a coworker experienced. He got on someone's wheel, who then intentionally caused him to crash. The guy actually circled back, and informed guy that he had done this to teach him a lesson about unauthorized drafting.

The moral of the story (to me) is that it is much better to ask/give a heads up than risk engaging a psycho- (or is it socio-?) path.

As I understand it, if a rear wheel touches a front wheel, the former is relatively unaffected while the latter will move violently and almost uncontrollably. The standard advise for dealing with front wheel that has touched a rear wheel is to steer TOWARDS the rear wheel, not away from it. Supposedly, that is your best bet to maintain control of the bike.
the moral to that story is that you never know when you arebill
Jan 6, 2003 9:00 AM
going to run into a psychopathic misanthrope. That's truly horrible. What breach in etiquette, creepy feeling possibly could justify that? Not that you've tried to justify it, but I'm not sure that sicko would have been worth following if our hero HAD said something.
Jan 6, 2003 10:57 AM
Don't worry about the lingo or some special etiquette. Just pull up beside the person and tell them you are new to the sport and would like to practice drafting. I think most people would be more than happy to help with a few pointers and let you practice. I wouldn't mind, I would just want to know you were back there ... for your safety more than mine.
Drafting Info from Bicycling MagGeoCyclist
Jan 6, 2003 1:20 PM
I scanned this from a bicycling mag a few years back.
That wind resistance measurement doesn't seem rightKristin
Jan 6, 2003 3:12 PM
At 6 feet the reduction in resistance is 27%?? I doubt I would notice a difference if the lead rider was suddenly removed from the course. So is there really a 1/4 reduction in resistance when you're 6 feet back?

It only takes 2.5 feet to completely fall off the pack and to feel that you have little or no benefit from the group (if its in single file formation.)
yes, but...mohair_chair
Jan 6, 2003 3:41 PM
If the wind you are riding in is not directly in front of you (i.e., zero degrees or 12 o'clock), then the further back you are, the worse it will get. It's pretty rare that you are riding directly into the wind. Usually it's coming at an angle, which means that if you drop back 6 feet, you are probably getting no slipstream.

For my money, if you are 6 feet back, you are in a separate paceline. Six feet is ridiculous even for a beginner. In a line of experienced riders, you should be no more than one foot back.
Always wear a pink neck scarf and rhinestone shorts if you doInhighgear
Jan 6, 2003 1:37 PM
This way they'll have a real reason to feel wierd
here's why it's dangerousFrith
Jan 6, 2003 1:58 PM
This summer I was on a training ride and I came up behind someone and thought I'll just get a breather and ride that wheel for a couple seconds before I pass him. I did and within 5 seconds he swerved and a runner appeared before me. We collided and I flew. Fortunately neither I nor the runner were hurt. My bike was though and I had to ride with my front wheel barely making it through the fork. I was mad that I'd been dumb enough to do that and I won't ever ride a wheel unannounced again.
I can't believe I did this, now.rightsaidfred
Jan 6, 2003 2:43 PM
After reading and thinking about it, I can't believe I did this. It seems pretty obvious that it would be unsafe and rude, but it all happened so quickly (19mph is quick--to me). This was a crowded bikeway too. LOTS of pedestrian traffic too. I could have hurt someone.

Well, Thanks for the tips. And thanks for putting up with me.
Hey Fred, don't feel bad...VertAddict
Jan 6, 2003 8:39 PM
...I've been riding for only (?) about four years, and I didn't know all that crap either. I can certainly see how the situation inadvertently developed into something uncomfortable, I've had similar experiences. I think you did right in backing off, I would either do that if I was having trouble keeping up, or else just blow by.

I can see the point of the etiquette, but I would keep it in perspective. So you followed a guy for a while, big deal. You were both just out for a ride, not in the TDF. Hopefully experienced riders aren't quite so cliquey that they can't make allowances for this sort of thing happening once in a while. If they can't, then they are the ones who suck.

This is from someone who likes to ride alone (surprise surprise).