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Old 03-25-05, 09:30 PM   #1
DEKKERFAN
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Drafting Question

Does sitting on someone's wheel cause them to work harder than if they were out there on their own? I don't mean by being a "wheelsucker" and not helping them. I am talking about the physics of their aerodynamics. I heard hat it somehow wrecks their drag and creates a larger envelope of air for them to pull or something on those lines. I heard that teams will do this to someone who is a contender when they try to do a solo break. Anyone ever hear of this?
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Old 03-25-05, 09:39 PM   #2
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I have never heard this but I figure that it is possible to disrupt the air flow slightly. Of course the disruption would be so small in comparison to the frontal force that it is not nearly an issue...
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Old 03-25-05, 09:58 PM   #3
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It doesn't make it any more difficult for the lead rider. There's even been some evidence that it makes it slightly easier for him/her.
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Old 03-25-05, 10:58 PM   #4
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Nothing scientific, but it feels easier to hold pace while taking your turn pulling the line.
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Old 03-25-05, 11:04 PM   #5
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Text quoted from the linked page

http://www.exploratorium.edu/cycling/aerodynamics2.html

Suprisingly drafting not only helps the bicyclist following the leader, but the lead cyclist gains an advantage as well. Paul explained, "The interesting thing is by filling in her eddy you improve the front person's performance as well. So two people who are drafting can put out less energy than two individuals (who are not drafting) would covering the same distance in the same time." While the lead cyclist gains some advantage in this situation she still needs to expend much more energy than the cyclist who is following.
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Old 03-26-05, 09:37 AM   #6
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It makes a HUGE difference in NASCAR, but in cycling, it's negligable.

So if you're sitting on some guy's wheel and you're using this as an excuse for not pulling through, shame on you.
But then again, if the guy buys your argument and allows you to sit there, go for it.
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Old 03-26-05, 10:14 PM   #7
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It makes a HUGE difference when someone is in front of you (about 30% less effort). There is a very slight advantage to the guy in the front compared to when he is by himself. I would say its less than 5%. The reason it different from nascar is the the front end of a stock car is very aerodynamic compared to its back side. Tucking a car in behind makes a big difference. With a cyclist, the front end is very NOT aerodynamic - the back end isn't either, but its also more difficult for human behind you to help reduce the eddy.

I would imagine the effect is higher in team track events or team time trials where so much focus is on aero.
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Old 03-27-05, 07:35 PM   #8
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The size of the vehicle and the speed are extremly different between stock car racing and cycling, but the drafting principle is the same.
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