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Drafting etiquette?(37 posts)

Drafting etiquette?K_Zero
Jan 25, 2004 7:57 PM
Is it considered a bad "road manner" to draft someone without taking your turn to lead?

There are times when I'm drafting and I can barely hold on to the rider ahead of me, and I can't go any faster to take the lead (and return the favor for him) even if I wanted to. In these scenario am I supposed to back off and ride by myself? Or is it totally acceptable to stay behind someone for as long as I want?

Btw, I've been on the other end of secnario many times...but I don't mind leading at all.

re: Drafting etiquette?micha
Jan 25, 2004 8:07 PM
Don't try to "go any faster to take the lead." General procedure is for the front rider to give up the draft by sliding over and slowing down. As long as the front rider doesn't do that, stay in the draft and enjoy the ride.
re: Drafting etiquette?micha
Jan 25, 2004 8:10 PM
Don't try to "go any faster to take the lead." General procedure is for the front rider to give up the pull by sliding over and slowing down. As long as the front rider doesn't do that, stay in the draft and enjoy the ride.
Agree, don't power around to take a pullbimini
Jan 26, 2004 6:49 AM
Good way to get a "race" started. Wait for the lead to drop around the side and then take your turn. Try to hold the previous speed and pace. Even if you can only pull the lead for 30 seconds and then drop to the rear, you are showing the group your not in it for a free ride.

If you are struggling to hold the pace, those behind will see and when dropping off pace themselves right in front of you indicating they want to cut in front of you. They may also want to cut in front to keep their group together and unknowns away. Let them cut in front and be content pulling the tail.

Remember, if you join a pace line of new people, it's their party. Follow their lead, and you will be okay. If they don't want you around, then they will either drop you, politely ask you to drop off, or issue a stream of verbal abuse, in which place I would not want to be associated with them anyway.
re: Drafting etiquette?yeah right
Jan 25, 2004 8:20 PM
Few things:

1) This scenario should only take place if you've asked the rider infront of you if it's okay to draft. You might not mind other people drafting off of you, but other riders, like me, certainly do under some circumstances. Please be polite and ask.

2) When you exchange pulls it shouldn't be that you speed up and go around the other person. They should pull off and get behind you most of the time. This is also a good way of knowing when to exchange.

3) If your intentions are to sit on, just say so. The other person probably wasn't looking for a pull either way.
ditto #1CritLover
Jan 25, 2004 8:50 PM
I find it very uncomfortable when I'm riding and see someone with unknown drafting skills riding behind me. It's also very distracting if I'm working on a technique or interval since I have to worry about someone rear ending me if I should slow unexpectedly.
"unknown drafting skills" balderdash. You just don't likebill
Jan 26, 2004 4:14 AM
working for someone you don't know, who makes you feel as if you can't go your own pace because ... he's ... right ... behind ... you.
Even if the guy did run into you, he's going down, not you. It's not entirely rational to be threatened by a guy right behind you. I guess no one wants to see anyone go down, but it's almost certainly not going to be you.
As for the etiquette, sure it's better to say something, but I don't think he said he was drafting a stranger. I think that's your issue. What are lousy drafting skills anyway? Inexperienced people keep a greater distance, that's all.
As for our hero's question, if you're barely hanging on, as our hero says, no point in taking the lead. Say, I'm barely hanging on here. One of two things will happen. Either the lead will lighten up, because he's pushing it, too, so that you then can take your turn, or he'll continue to push on in the lead and it's fine. Just don't sprint past him when you see the stop sign, because that IS bad etiquette.
A True StoryGregory Taylor
Jan 26, 2004 5:01 AM
Me and the guys -- Rolling Thunder -- were doing the morning commute ride one fine spring morning on the Mt. Vernon Trail Bike Path. We were doing our thing, keeping it quick-ish and tidy, when a pair -- a man and a woman, decked out in local racing club colors -- go blasting past us with nary an "on your left" or "passing" to be heard. In most circles, this is viewed as either being rude or one way to issue a friendly challenge. Thinking it a friendly challenge, we pick it up a notch and chase.

We catch the duo and let them know in a friendly way that they have company. At this point the guy, who I will call "Mr. Safety", decides that he doesn't want us on his wheel. Mr. Safety turns around, looks back, and begins to spew a continuous stream of obscenities at us. His consort, Ms. Safety, cringes. Nonplussed, we give him room and then start to go around, yet Mr. Safety remains fully committed to looking back over his shoulder at us and delivering an obscenity filled lecture on how he doesn't like anyone that he doesn't know on his wheel, how it's unsafe, yadda yadda yadda.... Then, as if to prove his point, our hero Mr. Safety, not looking where he is going because he is so busy cursing us out, runs into the back of Ms. Safety (who he was drafting) and puts both of them off of the trail and into the bushes.

Yes, drafting with strangers can be a ticklish business.
A True StoryWoof the dog
Jan 26, 2004 5:43 AM
Nothing funny in that,
You were obviously wrong to start all that stuff. Essentially, you were the cause of their accident.

If it were me, I wouldn't be sayin that stuff like he did, I am cool with people (it is okay if they don't get something, it is still better than them driving a car and honkin at me). I would just get out of your way to let you by and then go by you again to let you know that I don't want you drafting me.

I find it silly when people challenge me on the road. I may be out there doing my own thing and I do indeed try to concentrate on me myself and I, that is the whole point of biking: to be me by myself! But no, there needs to be someone who wants to race me.

For that there are races and race categories, weirdos. Get a life.

he was the cause?dan K
Jan 26, 2004 6:52 AM
Of the others' accident? I'd say the ego and attitude of the guy who ran into the woman was the cause. Gotta pay attention where you're going, not where you've been.
A True StorySquint
Jan 26, 2004 8:45 AM
People are always trying to race me, too. Usually, it's the day after intervals and when I'm heading back into town after an easy ride. I'm just doing my thing and some kid on a MTB or some student thinks if he can ride away from me while I'm waiting at a light then he's faster and fitter than me or something. I guess their egos need these little virtual race wins. What would happen if a racer just blew by them then? Would they go home and hang themselves?
Get A Life? Get Real.Gregory Taylor
Jan 26, 2004 3:00 PM
Check me on this one....

1. Our happy little band gets carved up by a pair of racers in a frankly rude manner;

2. We pick up our pace, catch them without doing anything risky or stupid (for those who know the Mt. Vernon Trail, we were by National Airport heading to the 14th Street Bridge -- clear sight lines and an arrow-straight trail);

3. We announce our presence in a friendly way; and

4. We immediately back off and go around when asked.

Ummm...I don't think that we started this one, and I certainly don't think that we caused this guy to run into his spouse/girlfriend. That happened when Mr. Safety came totally unglued at the seams and forgot to ride his bike.

Granted, in a perfect world, our little gang of commuters could have simply ignored the prick. But then I'm not perfect. Of course, Woof, you are perfect, and you have never, ever, chased and passed a rider while out on a training ride. Dogs don't do that where you live, way up there on that high moral ground.

As a postscript to the story, we bumped into a solo Ms. Safety shortly after Mr. Safety's grand meltdown. She apologized for her boyfriend's/husband's (not clear which) behavior. Ms. Safety is a decent sort, and has even been known to occasionally jump into our group heading into work. Imagine that...
No, GET A LIFE!Woof the dog
Jan 26, 2004 6:27 PM
You are just proving my point. With this attitude, no wonder you get people all fired up and crashin' left and right. Can't you just leave them be? Be smarter than them, let them be in their sad and small kingdom of thinking they're really fast.

I am not saying what he did was right, but I think that when people with egos like you and Mr. Safety try to sort it out, bad things follow. All they did was they passed you, but then you had to try and pass them back.

I am not perfect either, and in the past I would do stupid sh!t like this too. However, the reality of things is that there are and always will be people faster than you, or slower than you, and local commuter trails are not the place to prove something to someone.

There are also people who used to be better than you but now are slow as hell, and also the reverse. It is a struggle for me too to realize and accept things that my ego does not want to accept (yes, Dan, this is Freud for ya). So it is not about high moral ground, it is about knowing your place and not wasting your time and thinking energy, but simply trying to enjoy the ride and trying to be happy for the person that passed you (or that you passed). You do not know anything about that other person that passed you. Maybe he is a show-off or maybe he really is JUST THAT FAST, or maybe he is cooling down, or maybe he is doing his intervals! Let him do his own thing, don't be a dick, don't accuse him of being a 'racer type', don't get people all fired up about their performance and, yes, safety. Be smarter than them because if they act like a-holes, eventually they will learn their place.

And it is the same thing with helmets too. People have shut me down in the past when I try to tell them that not wearing a helmet is NOT about looks. They would basically accuse me of these aweful things calling me a show-off or a pro-wannabe. I don't even know where to begin with that one... and I really don't care. It is all a waste of words anyway.

Woof the dog.
I Tell Ya What...Gregory Taylor
Jan 26, 2004 9:17 PM
This will sound strange, but I really don't think that we're that far apart on this one. You think that nirvana is to be left alone when you ride and, despite the impression created by my "True Story", I don't make it a practice to chase down strangers down and sit on wheels uninvited because I know that some some folks hate that.

Actually, I suspect that we may also be a bit more alike temperamentally than either of us would care to admit. Seems that we both have hot button issues. Both of us appear to be somewhat stubborn and given to writing long replies. We come off in print as arrogant pricks squaring off over meaningless points of honor, which is probably out of character for both of us.

And we both like to ride bikes, which is actually the most important thing. While I'm still not convinced that my friends and I should don sackcloth and ashes for our part in the Mr. Safety Saga (hey, we were the ones on the receiving end of the apology that was proffered), your very thoughtful last response contains many fundamentally sound ideas and attitudes that no one can disagree with. I tell ya what...if you are ever in the Washington D.C. area, let's go for a ride and I'll buy you a cup of coffee. Or a beer. Or both. My treat.
I Tell Ya What...Woof the dog
Jan 26, 2004 9:31 PM
Sounds good!


Freds! Geez...MShaw
Jan 26, 2004 9:44 AM
"Friendly challenge?" Bah! Why let someone else dictate your pace? There's times and places to go fast and times and places NOT to go fast. The Mt Vernon trail is the latter...

If you want a "friendly challenge" race more(!) or train harder. That'll fix that "friendly challenge" thing.

Y'all tried Haynes Point lunch rides? That's the time/place to go fast.

I agree with BIll being asked is the exception, not the ruledctrofspin
Jan 26, 2004 5:06 AM
I rarely have ever had anyone ask to sit on. If it's such a distraction for the lead bike, simply pull over and drop back and let the guy go. Or, kindly wave them up and aside and ask them to drop back. It cracks me up when you come up on someone riding a $5000 Ti bike, decked out in a color matched team uniform and they turn around mad and panicked when someone is drafting.

BTW Bill, you Squadra Coppi guys are outta your mind for riding on Saturday...this weather sucks!
that's medan K
Jan 26, 2004 6:47 AM
I'm still getting worked in the team rides and it's better to be honest and tell others "hey, I'm barely hanging on by a thread."
I don't expect them to slow down, but they do let me ride behind to A) get home in one piece B) get my training in and not hose theirs up.
"unknown drafting skills" balderdash. You just don't likeCritLover
Jan 26, 2004 8:05 AM
Try riding in Central and Prospect park where hundreds of riders are in the park everyday thinking they got skills. It's not like a once in a blue moon occurrence-it's life here. There's like three places to ride around here and many a dangerous looking cyclist and their mother have been known to draft witout asking, even on rollerblades, and a couple of times have caused accidents that involve both parties. I'm not sure why you think getting rear ended would only make one person go down- not irrational, it's happened.

Besides, if I crawl, it's for a reason, I follow a program and I do what I'm told. I do my workouts and don't care what someone I don't know feels about my pace. The only day I care about is race day, the rest of the time is about hard work and safety(no use getting hurt on training rides- it sucks!)This may not be the case for everyone, but for me it's about safety and distraction as I said originally.
ya gotta admit, though, that it's almost always the guy behindbill
Jan 26, 2004 12:29 PM
who's going to go down. Actually, that IS the annoying part of being drafted by someone you don't know. You may not want the responsibility, and, particularly if you don't know he's back there, you may stop or turn without warning or fail to signal a road hazard, that sort of thing. And you may just not want to do any of that stuff. I can understand all of that.
I also stand by one other thing I said -- staggering inattention could cause somebody to slam you from behind and cause you both to go down, as Greg describes, but that's not an experience issue or even a skill issue. That's a staggering inattention issue, and that can happen to anyone with or without skills who's being a jerk.
I guess your rightCritLover
Jan 26, 2004 3:24 PM
Y'know, I haven't seen any accidents where the back guy goes down and the front guy doesn't, but most of my references are from races where unexpected slowing causes rear end accidents where both fall. Now, I have seen tapes where the pros touch wheels and if they do happen to go down it is the back guy. So I guess I have to agree, but more from what everyone says than my own experience.
Bill, point of order...russw19
Jan 26, 2004 6:30 PM
It IS entirely rational to feel nervous or threatened by someone behind you. It's human instinct. Most people don't feel it on the bike only because they tend to know and trust the person who is likely behind them. But to be nervous of a stranger who comes up behind you is instinct. Just a small point I wanted to make... all the rest of what you say about them going down, or novice riders not even getting that close are true, but it is rational to fear someone behind you. And if it causes you to constantly be looking over your shoulder, then it is a very real concern as well.

As for the original poster, just communicate with the person you are following. If you let them know you are doing all you can to hang in, they may just be flattered enough to not try and drop you.

Jan 26, 2004 5:46 AM
"...working on a technique...", that's priceless.
or even worseWoof the dog
Jan 26, 2004 6:05 AM
"I have to worry about someone rear ending me"

HOLY MOLLY, did I just say that?

See, this IS bad social skills

And I hope I never get to say things like this ever ever again.

what difference does it make?MShaw
Jan 26, 2004 9:33 AM
If someone's behind you, if they screw up chances are it is THEM going down, not you.

Let them draft if that's what makes them happy: you're getting the better workout!

Re: slowing down unexpectedly. If you know someone's on your wheel ride like it. If they sneak up on you and you have to react, that's another story.

Drafting...'atta kid!RemmingtonShowdown
Jan 25, 2004 9:09 PM
Per a thread a while back concerning nascar; the front rider should recieve some bennefit from your drafting them and thus eliminating the turbulence behind him/her. Not to mention it feels good when someone wants you to lead them.
As long as they are not idiots- sit in all you wantCoolhand
Jan 26, 2004 6:19 AM
As long as they don't sit in for 30 minutes then try and attack me on the first hill, hang on and enjoy the ride.

Also, don't overlap me with your front wheel, as I really don't want to have to make a huge effort just to pull off.

I have been the motor up front pulling like a train, and I have been the poor shmoe hanging on for dear life. All depends on the company. When the angry former Cat-1's and college racers show up, humble pie is served- makes it easier to sympathize with the newer riders.

Sometimes I will drop pack and pace them back up to the group on training rides- extra work for me and it makes it more likely they will stick with it in the long run. We were all new once.

You do your thing--I'll do mine.macalu
Jan 26, 2004 9:06 AM
If someone wants to sit on my wheel, that's cool. I should be aware of what's going on around, in front, and behind. If I don't like the way they ride--Coolhands reference to overlapping my rear wheel which I really do not like--I have options:

I can turn off, I can try to ride the guy off my wheel, I can't sit up a coast till I'm doing 5 mph and the guy pulls though, I can gently pull over and lie down on a grassy knoll looking at clouds for an hour until the other is a distint memory.

Don't waste your time trying to make others behave as you want them too. It usually won't happen and you're just signing up to frustration. You can only control your behavior, not the other's.
Yo...Jim Bob...This aint NASCAR!!!biknben
Jan 26, 2004 6:53 AM
Any benefit you feel from pulling a fellow rider is just adrenaline.

Cars can benefit because they are traveling at insane speeds. It's not the same on a bike.
OK, now here's a question.theBreeze
Jan 26, 2004 6:55 AM
Suppose you start drafting someone and they DON'T pull off to let you take a lead, even when it's obvious that they could use a break. I am not talking just about inexperienced riders who don't know about drafting. Usually this has happened in organized century rides, or multi-day tours i have done. When I come up behind someone I let them know I'm there and ask if they mind. And I let them know I'm willing to work in whenever they want.

This rarely happens around home because either I'm alone and there just aren't that many cyclists around, or I'm with my usual group and we know what's going on.

Is it because I'm a female, and a rather small one at that, and they think I can't help? BTW, how much help does a 5'1" rider really give to someone a lot bigger?
I think it helps just as much..cmgauch
Jan 26, 2004 7:31 AM
...and the visibility to the front is better. I don't notice any real difference in effort drafting behind larger/smaller riders.

I'm with you though, people gotta know when to pull off the front. If you are trying to finish the ride as a group this is paramount since once they tire they slow everyone down.

It's so annoying in that setting to have the guy who just did a double or triple pull (over everyone's protest) to ask the train to slow down once he's in the draft.
I think it helps just as much.asgelle
Jan 26, 2004 8:14 AM
cmgauch wrote, "I'm with you though, people gotta know when to pull off the front. If you are trying to finish the ride as a group this is paramount since once they tire they slow everyone down."

I agree, but in this example, the rider at the front wasn't part of a group. He was riding along by himself and someone came up onto his wheel. Why should he be obliged to move over and work with this stranger. Maybe he wants to set a time riding solo. Maybe he wants to relax and not worry about following someone's wheel. Maybe, he realizes he's tired and might be a hazard riding closely with someone else. In any event it's his ride and I see no reason why he should have to accomodate someone else's desire for how he should do it.
Jan 26, 2004 8:31 AM
I strayed a little from the topic at hand to voice my own pet peeve. I was referring to a group setting, sorry.

For the record, I don't much care if a someone latches onto my wheel, but it seems polite/safe to make your presence known.
In that case I would pull along side and ask if they wantbimini
Jan 26, 2004 7:32 AM
me to pull for awhile.

It could be a male ego thing preventing the rider from dropping off the front, but personally, I kind of enjoy the view drafting a nice gal in spandex.

PS: any size rider in front of you gives you a significant advantage over pulling the front.
We gals appreciate a good view too! (nm)theBreeze
Jan 26, 2004 7:52 AM
Simple...ask "need a break, I can pull a while..."russw19
Jan 26, 2004 6:44 PM
I would never mind riding behind a girl either. And I most likely wouldn't get much out of it being I am over 6 feet, and also over 215 lbs, but it's a nice change of scenery sometimes. (Not trying to be crass, but I love female cyclist's calves.)

But if I got tired and the other person offered to pull, I would say "Thanks!" and jump right in behind them. Now if they noticed I was getting tired, waited until I was cooked, then sprinted past me... I might be annoyed, but at the end of the day, I rely on my legs to get me home, not anyone else's.

Jan 26, 2004 2:36 PM
sometimes that someone minds, sometimes doesn't, sometimes he/she wants to be left alone. Even if you are not a match and can't maintain speed you may still be of help, give a chance to someone to take a break, drink water, stretch neck, etc.

When you join well organized paceline follow their rules, if you can't pull on the same level as others, show intend take shorter pulls and apologize, it is universally well received. If you can't pull at all, drop off paceline or swallow pride and beg for a ride. Sometimes people don't care, and sometimes they don't want you to take pulls, they have their own objectives.

Personally I wouldn't stay on paceline I cannot keep up or dislike dynamics. It always ends up with blowing up and it is more costly and takes long time to recover. Never put 100% in your pull, you'll just get dropped pealing off.

And yes it is bad manner to draft on someone without letting them know and giving them a chance to size you up.