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Descending drafting protocols....(4 posts)

Descending drafting protocols....Vamoots
Aug 29, 2003 3:11 PM
I'm a relative newbie to road riding -- been at it for about 18 months but have ridden mountain for years. At 57 years old I need to use most of the tricks in the book to hang with the local group rides. I can hold the wheel pretty well and take decent pulls and at 135 pounds I can climb pretty well. But.....when we descend I tend to get dropped -- everybody is heavier than me. We ride a pretty good paceline but things break up on the descents. In our part of the country the descents are non-technical and short but with enough of a gradient to easily hit 38-45 mph. Typically I'll fall behind and expend A LOT of energy on the ensuing hill getting back on the wheel. A bad back doesn't allow the best tuck. Now, I've noticed that if I glom on to a wheel on the descent I can hang in the slip stream. So, finally, I get to my question....Am I breaking any roadie "rules" by doing this? Is it annoying on a descent to have a "parasite" on your rear wheel?
Thanks for any advice.
draft away...C-40
Aug 29, 2003 3:28 PM
I also weigh 135 (or less). If the descents are pretty much straight downhill, I'd draft just as you would on a flat stretch. If you get behind a big guy, all you should have to do is tap your brakes to keep from running over him.

On a winding mountain descent, it's darn risky to get too close. Everyone has their own cornering technique and it would be more difficult to avoid touching wheels with the inevitable disastorous result.
Aug 29, 2003 4:38 PM
Do whatever it takes to stay close. Become a wheelsucking expert -- until you hit the big climbs.

I never really worry about what's going on behind me. It's very rare to be taken out from behind; rear wheels are about 100 times more stable than front wheels. Don't worry about the guy in front of you.

re: Descending drafting protocols....bimini
Aug 31, 2003 10:16 AM
Depends on the group. If they are racer types or are confident in thier handling skills, they won't be bothered and will even understand why your hugging their wheels.

If it is bothering them, they will let you know either by saying something, getting close to the side of the road, or using another bike to discourage you from hanging so close.

I have the opposite problem at 180#, I have to find a wheel and spin like crazy to get up the hill. I have to brake going down unless I want to take the lead.

As you say they get a really good paceline going. They should not mind (or a least a couple of them won't mind) if you draft them on the down hills.

A good biker on a good bike should be rock solid stable at 45 MPH.