Group Ride Etiquette and Drafting

I’ve been learning all sorts of etiquette about group rides since riding with the Easton group. A few things I learned:

  • Do not overlap the guy in front of you wheel, it’s a good way to wreck. From what I have been told the person who will pay the price will be you because the guy in front will ride forward, however you could cause him an accident as well, so simply do not do it.
  • When you are riding with a cross wind, line up on the windward side of the road so everyone can offset and get into the draft.
  • Call out hazards as you see them and point to them. You will see them before the guy/gal in back can.
  • Stay straight, do not stray left and right. Sometimes it’s been hard for me simply because I am at my limit and hanging on for dear life, but it can cause problems and fear in the echelon, so do your best. And if you can not stay straight stay in the back of the pack away form people.
  • When on the front of the echelon stay steady, that means do not speed up or slow down too much, keep it steady. If you do either you will cause an accordion effect which can mess up the ride. Race mode is different, but we are talking group ride here.

I know there are more things, but this is what comes to mind after today’s ride.

Drafting
What a difference drafting makes. What I learned to survive the group rides is pick the biggest guy and ride behind him. I’ve been reading and experimenting on the rides. The literature suggests that you will use up to 30% less energy drafting someone. And two riders can go faster then one because of the air resistance offset. The third guy gets more benefit then the second. The effect goes about about four and then evens out to no advantage from there.

When you draft it’s the time to rest and catch your breath. I can see my heart rate go down as many as twenty beats depending on the effort that I have to put in on the front. I also find that if I stay in my drops I get much more benefit.