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Group Ride Drafting Etiquette Question(13 posts)

Group Ride Drafting Etiquette Questioncholla
Aug 24, 2003 8:55 PM
I have been road riding for about 4 years now, and do a lot of group rides, so I like to think I have the basics about pack riding down.....i.e., call out obstacles, be predictable, hold your line, etc....but I have a question:

I often find myself on group rides with 20-40 riders, and we are riding two-by-two up the road. These rides have mostly racers, rather than rec riders, and tend to average 27+ on flat sections. Riders seem to get competetive on the significant climbs (attacks, etc.), but most of the time, the ride is more cooperative. During some parts of the ride, we do a rotating double paceline. My question has to do with the times that we are NOT doing a rotating paceline - when we are just cruising along, riding two abreast. Sometimes in this scenario, I am riding along, directly behind the rider in front of me, while the rider next to me drifts over toward me, effectively pushing me out of the sweet spot of the draft from the rider in front of me. This rider moves to the center, drafting behind BOTH of the side-by-side riders in front of him (and probably not getting a decent draft either). Frankly, this is really annoying to me, but it seems to happen often - and there is no crosswind to speak of, which I understand might require an echelon. That's not this scenario.

Am I right to expect riders to stay directly behind the rider in front of them? These are group rides, not races, so I expect people to cooperate, not overlap wheels, and not take over "my draft". (A race would be a different story altogether). I believe that if someone wants to attack, they can do so, but should otherwise respect my personal space. Is this a common understanding? If so, have I just been "lucky" to encounter some inexperienced or inconsiderate riders? And how should I deal with this situation without making enemies in the pack? Although I don't know these people well, I tend to ride in the same groups often.....

Thanks for your thoughts....
Maybe you're not holding your line like you think you are.Canidraftyou
Aug 24, 2003 10:43 PM
Maybe you think people are attacking, but they dont want to be behind ya!

Maybe the one infront is not getting the workout he/she is wanting and needs to get the HR up!

Some people dont have a schedule where they can race, and a fast pace group ride is the closes thing to a race they'll get for awhile. Everyone has their own goals and demands. Each person may want a little something different from they're ride. Best to ride with people you know. No way can you know 40 riders bad habits.

My two cent,

Peace out
Maybe you're not holding your line like you think you are.cholla
Aug 24, 2003 11:05 PM
Thanks for the reply, but I know that I am holding the line - we're talking about some very long straightaways. and I know that my wheel is directly behind the rider in front of me - and that he is also holding his line. It's just a rider that might be next to me not holding HIS line. But your point that "everyone has their own goals and demands" is well taken - perhaps these people are racing me, even if I'm not racing them.
Maybe you're not holding your line like you think you are.spankdoggie
Aug 25, 2003 12:19 AM
cholla, you need to hold your line. Possession is 9/10ths of the law. If someone does it to you next time, hold your line until you get bumped, and then bump them back. You have the line, and it is yours. Never be intimidated out there, and never show fear. Hold your line. Trust me.

Do not give it up.
You own your line.

Keep the rubber side down,

Hold your line, don't be scared off your wheel. nmSpunout
Aug 25, 2003 3:43 AM
Aug 25, 2003 4:56 AM
I've spent enough countless hours in group riding to observe all sorts of interesting phenomena- there are all sorts of "pecking orders" that develop over time. Guys who always pull, never pull, like the front, like the back, like the inside/ outside, guys you wouldn't even consider bumping, and guys that get bumped all the time- it is the same with flats- the group will usually just stop for certain people.

I'd just be assertive and say "excuse me" as you create a space for yourself. I wouldn't try to rigidly "police" the lines people take (that is really annoying)- but rather just focus on protecting your own turf. After awhile, no one will mess with you.

Personally, I don't like groups as big as you describe: they become very unruly around traffic control. Riding two abreast is a nasty recipe if someone gets freaked about road obstacles- plus you can really get boxed in if there is a problem.
I don’t think they are being aggressive,…TFerguson
Aug 25, 2003 5:21 AM
they are just more comfortable riding close than you are. There are lots of reasons that they may prefer the line more to the center. The draft is actually better there. If they are on the right, they may want to stay as far from the edge of the road (glass, gravel, etc.) as they can. On the left, they may not like the traffic. Who knows. The point is, lots of people are comfortable riding close enough that they actually touch from time to time and have no idea that it would bother you or feel that you should learn that riding close is OK.

Use those arms!cmgauch
Aug 25, 2003 6:03 AM
My buddies and I will make contact sometimes but it's all innocent, last minute line adjustments and the like. That, and we know we can do so in relative safety, and no-body gets mad about it. It's generally just forearm-to-forearm & never gets past shoulder to shoulder. It is appropriate to precede the line invasion with some comment like; "sorry, man, gotta squeeze ya here a little bit."

On a group ride w/40 relative strangers, nobody s/b taking liberties w/your line, but is it possible that the person next to you is just getting closer because of overtaking traffic, or a road obstacle? Do they move back into their line again? Do they say anything? Maybe the next time you are forearm-to-forearm w/someone say: "Hey, if you want my line just say so". They should get the hint.

Here's my recipe for contact (but w/14+" arms, it doesn't come up much):
-Hands on the hoods, elbows slightly out.
-Your forearm goes right up against the other rider's forearm.
-Contact is body-to-body, not bike-to-bike (bad things can happen then).
-By the time you are shoulder to shoulder, but they should have found another line.
-If they haven't, and you still want the line, stand a bit to get slightly taller and apply pressure using your pedals for leverage.
-Repeat as necessary.
Use those arms!cholla
Aug 25, 2003 6:24 AM
"is it possible that the person next to you is just getting closer because of overtaking traffic, or a road obstacle? Do they move back into their line again? Do they say anything?"

No, its not a temporary thing, and nothing is said. I have been asserting my control of the space, as you and others have suggested, and it works - but I just don't think I should have to do this. I do tend to shy away from contact, because I often have a thought about handlebars getting tangled somehow and taking us all down - but perhaps your technique of allowing the forearms to contact first would prevent that.....Thanks.
Practice contact, best thing ever for safety. nmSpunout
Aug 25, 2003 8:10 AM
Practice contact, best thing ever for safety. nmMShaw
Aug 25, 2003 9:43 AM
one of the best things for getting comfortable with bumping people is to find a few buds and ride around a soccer field for a while. Practice leaning against one another: lean the body, not the bike! Watch the TdF field sprints for more detail. If those guys can bash into each other at 60-70kph, you certainly can at 30-35!

Play "knobby tag." I started this one riding mtn bikes, hence the name... The idea is to define a space, keep the bike in a VERY small gear, and practice touching wheels and recovering. The person that's IT needs to tap the rear wheel of another rider to make them it, and so on. Doing this on grass, at slow speeds, means that if you do go down, you don't get too hurt.

One more thought about the dude drifting over into the center of the two-abreast paceline. Could be that the wind is coming from whatever direction he's moved from. If y'all had the space, it'd be called an echelon. Since I'm not there, I don't know, this is just a guess.

One of the things I've learned about pace lines here in San Diego, is that not too many people actually know how to ride one... It seems to be a lost art here! Most of the guys from the East coast and Midwest know how to do it, but the SoCal "locals" don't.

Next time the guy moves in on your line, ask him why he's doing it. I'm interested to hear his version too.

The rider next to you is possibly going too fast and ratherFez
Aug 25, 2003 11:02 AM
than slow down, he is pulling out to the side to get the wind to slow him down. In the process, he is freaking you out.

If this is the case, that rider is not doing a good job of matching the speed of the rider he in front of him.

Another possibility is the rider in front is keeping a very erratic pace and is preventing all those behind from staying in a smooth paceline.
two thoughts on this...russw19
Aug 26, 2003 1:58 AM
First off, if you ride with guys or gals who race, then ALWAYS assume they are on a hard training ride. Your goals may be totally different if you don't race, but if you know someone races every chance they get, assume they are in that group ride for the training... not for a casual ride like you are.

Second, if the person who creeps over to the wheel you are sucking is a racer, simply telling them to watch or hold their line is significant enough to get your point across. They will know that they are pushing you out of the draft, and they shouldn't be offended to hear this, as they probably hear it often enough in their races.

If you notice this is the same person doing this over and over again, talk to them politely before or after the ride. Or just don't line up in the paceline next to them and they are someone else's problem (and hopefully that other person will know how to handle this.)

If you notice this happens with a bunch of random people, you may want to more seriously consider if it is something they are doing, or something you are doing. Maybe, if it happens with a bunch of other people to just you, the problem lies with you. I am not criticizing, as I haven't seen you ride, and it doesn't sound like it's you, but you may want to consider it. Ask another rider in the group whose opinion you value and trust if there is something you are doing wrong. They may be able to help you if it is or is not your doing.

Just a couple thoughts, hope they help.