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Echelon ettiquite(4 posts)

Echelon ettiquitefiltersweep
May 10, 2003 1:03 PM
On a small group (six of us) century with a nasty head/cross wind out in the middle of nowhere on a little traveled country county road (don't all stories begin like this)... oh, and I was a new guy to this group- anyway, we were all riding in an echelon to deal with the wind, with the lead rider a few feet from the center line (in other words, we are practically taking up the entire lane- the "no more than two riders abreast" law be damned). I wasn't entirely comfortable with this arrangement, but I'm more or less the guest here, and when in Rome... anyway, everything was running smoothly for miles with the rotation.

To pile on the recipe for disaster, everyone but me was overlapping wheels, which is a necessary evil in this formation- I wasn't that comfortable with these guys quite yet, so I was hanging back a few inches from the guy in front of me, and the pace wasn't that brutal that it really mattered.

Someone yells "car back" (can you see where this is going?) and the group needs to slightly slow to break apart into single file. As the guy in front of me pulls over to the right (toward the shoulder) I follow suit- nearly taking down the guy behind me who was still overlapping my wheel. (Keep in mind, we had successfully managed this manuever several times earlier - like it is that complicated).

He was all bent out of shape and indignant over the issue- was yelling at me like it was my fault. Frankly, he didn't go down, there was no damage to anyone's equipment, and frankly, he was more or less asleep at the wheel. As an empty courtesy, I at least apologized, but I'm not convinced that I was at fault.

Interestingly, while this guy was good friends with everyone else, he got dropped on some hills and I never have seen him since (he's still out there, for all I know)...

Anyway- how common is overlapping wheels when dealing with a crosswind? People posting here act like it is the greatest taboo ever, but it seems to happen all the time, and at times, is a necessary evil.

Obviously good communication is essential to a group ride, but so is paying attention.
happens all the timeGregR
May 10, 2003 1:37 PM
Overlap happens all the time. It depends on how fast you moved over, maybe it was a bit of overreaction to someone calling out "car-back", I don't know, its very subjective. If the overlap is intentional, and your are riding with a group that approves of this and you see it and know its happening then you need to adjust your movements accordingly for the safety of the group. Does not make overlap the right thing to do, but if you want to ride with them, then you must follow their protocol - be it right or wrong.

I am not saying its ok for this guy to get all bent out of shape if he gets cut off while hes overlapping, that is plain asinine. If I was riding in a group that does a lot of intentional overlapping, and if someone cut me off I would say "hey man, careful - watch out for the rest of us". I am sure the other rider would get the idea and be more careful, and there would be no ego problems.

When riding with a group, especially people you never rode with, its always best to hold your line until you are sure its safe to do so.

I agree with the majority of folks that it is wrong to overlap, but it does happen, more than many would think.

re: Echelon ettiquitemicha
May 10, 2003 5:56 PM
Overlap is the essence of a cross-wind echelon. Without overlap, there is no echelon and no protection from a cross-wind.

The problem with echelons is that very few people know how to ride them properly and safely. In your case, seems like more than just a few riders did not know how to smoothly transition from an echelon to a single file.

In an ideal world, everyone in an echelon overlaps everyone else by the same amount, is acutely aware of that fact, and acts accordingly when something disturbs the formation.
re: Echelon ettiquiteTWD
May 10, 2003 9:31 PM
I've seen plenty of people overlap wheels in an echelon, and in heavy crosswinds, if you aren't overlapped, it defeats the purpose since you won't get any shelter if your sitting all the way behind the wheel in front of you.

I know how you feel about not trusting the overlap with a new group. One thing I've done in this situation is to actually move up further so there is more overlap so that my bars are closer to the guys hip. That way if he starts coming over you can put a hand out or lean into him. It's not nearly as bad as wheel to wheel contact. The other thing you can try is to give yourself a bigger cushion to the side when you do overlap. It gives you a little more reaction time to manuever. How much cushion you can manage depends on the width or the road and number of riders. You don't want to force the other guys into the gutter (unless it's a race of course).

As for holding your line in an echelon, you need to give people time to break the formation and make their way back to single file. I can't say how much time is reasonable, becuase that depends on the group, the road, and how fast the car is approaching.

If you immediately swerve over when somebody yells "car back" (knowing a guy is overlapping you) without giving him time to move over, then you're in the wrong.

If the guy behind is zoned out cuz he's about to get blown out the back of the group and he leaves you hanging out to dry with a fast approaching car, then he is in the wrong. My guess is that you didn't do anything wrong. If you had been overlapped with the guy in front of you and he was coming over, you wouldn't have had any choice, so the guy behind would have been in the same situation.

I don't know if there is one and only proper way to break the echelon and go back to single file, but in the groups I've ridden in, usually the riders on the front accellerate while the riders in back ease off. That way you string out past the overlap pretty quickly, then everybody moves to the side of the road.

Either way, sounds like he overreacted and was a jerk about it. Glad you dropped the jerk.