Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling - Century riding and drafting
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10-27-11, 04:45 PM
In the back of my mind, I have been wanting to do a century. I know that I will have to commit to some actual "training".
Anyways, do most people plan on having a pack to ride with? Or do you train as if you are doing a solo ride?
10-27-11, 05:30 PM
depends on how many riders are on the ride. Even when there are quite a few, I would expect to do a lot of solo riding
10-27-11, 06:00 PM
I would suggest that you will be doing some of both so train accordingly. In my experience you will have times when you will be in a group and can draft and then at others you will be riding solo. Things change frequently due to rest stops and group pacing. You may find that a group is going to slow for you and you will want to move ahead or you will find that a group is going to fast and you get dropped. Either way you will be solo for awhile but sooner of later another group will come by and you can jump on.
10-27-11, 08:26 PM
I never plan for drafting, ever. Can't go wrong by being prepared to ride the distance solo.
I have drafted opportunisticly, and also ridden with friends where we knew & trusted each other well enough to ride together and take turns at the front - even then it was a loose pace line/drafting. Comes in handy with headwinds, when tired, or just trying to hit a target to finish by. Riding with friends (including a very loose paceline, not much drafting benefit) is helpful to learn new routes, experience different terrain/conditions, and where an experienced rider can help a less experienced rider. Riding with a stranger is trickier as you have NO idea how they will behave in close proximity to other riders. Do they warn of road hazards, change speed/line without warning, show consideration for the wheels behind them or ahead? At a minimum, ask/let them know you're there before wheel sucking.
And I have re-thought my willingness to draft someone I don't know after crashing at mile 96 of a 106 mile ride mid-September (#1 kept surging & slowing, #2 changed lines when me (#3) had overlapped wheels & I thusly went down at 18-20 mph! OUCH!!!). I didn't break anything (me or bike) but was sufficiently hurting it messed up my plans to do another big ride and put a major crimp in my fall riding. Plus my wife now freaks if I mention ANYTHING remotely "bad" happened during a ride or commute.
So be able to ride it solo, practice riding with friends, and be VERY cautious about drafting anyone you don't know, and if the alarms in your head start signaling "sketchy", LISTEN TO THEM!
10-28-11, 11:10 AM
It just varies. When I did more charity rides, I mostly didn't know anybody else riding, and the people going my speed were usually not into drafting, so there wasn't a lot of opportunity. On randoneering rides, it is also variable. I'd done rides where I was in a pack nearly the whole way, and others where I soloed the whole way. If you're riding with a friend and not in a hurry, it's actually more fun to ride side by side so you can talk instead of drafting the whole way. Also, if I'm drafting, I wind up riding on the hoods most of the time, and if not, I can move my hands around more. Drafting happens a lot more in a headwind, also.
10-28-11, 11:29 AM
Thanks for the opinions. I figured that I better plan to ride solo. Not to mention the fact that I don't feel comfortable in pacelines (lack of experience).
10-28-11, 12:48 PM
The only organized (as in paid for) century I ever did was hte Lighthouse century years ago.
It had 2 options, a highland and a lowland, in a way that made it 3 different rides for me. I'm big, so I climb pretty poorly. Good chance I was the biggest guy to do the highland that year.
Both start onhte same route and then split. Until the highland turned off other riders were more obsticles rather than drafting chances. Once I was on hte higland I was one of the poorer riders overall (but not one that would get dropped on the flats) and clearly one of the worst climbers. No drafting there, but plenty of room and I was the one being passed.
Once the routes rejoined there had been a lot of sorting by speed and the riders I found myself with were more my speed ant there were chances to be in a line drafting. (At one point I was in a very long line following a pretty fast tandem).
My advice is be ready to draft or be drafted. But also be ready to ride solo.
If an early chance to draft comes take it, unless it means really going hard, you could find yourself dropped and spent.
Try to find out the route, know th climbs and know the expected wind.
It's probably worth finding a standing ride once a week or so and joining that to learn paceline skills. Not that most people in most pacelines have any idea what they're doing, but it's beneficial to learn in a slightly more relaxed environment. Start the century planning to ride it on your own, but if a few people pass you doing 1-2 mph faster than you, see if you can hang on. It's like getting 50% more miles for your effort!
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