I have a two week old í07 Specialized Tarmac Comp that Iím still getting used to. I have never participated in a group ride. On the bike path that I frequent, the faster roadies just pass by and disappear in the distance. This is fine with me as I ride alone anyway. Iím still getting used to riding in the drops so I prefer to be on my own. Tonight I had a shock when a faster rider caught me and decided to draft behind me for a couple of miles. This startled me to say the least because I didnít hear him come up nor did he say anything. I didnít realize that he was there until I was passing a riding duo and looked back. There he was way too close for my comfort (his front tire was half way up my rear tire).
So my question, whatís the etiquette of drafting a rider that see out on the road / path? If you donít know the person, should you announce your presence? I announce which side Iím passing when coming up on pedestrians or other riders. I would think you would announce your intent to draft so if you come across a newbie (i.e. me on a road bike) the front rider isnít startled. Further the front rider would be able to communicate if they are comfortable with someone drafting them. I donít know how long he was back there before I looked back. I was concentrating on the road ahead, my position form, and pedaling form and honestly didnít hear him come up.
The bike path that I ride is heavily wooded with a lot of deer and geese that are bold enough to come on the path or dart across in front of you. It was for these potential panic stops that I added a set of brake levers to the tops of my bars because thatís where I do most of my riding. I also have a few side-streets with solid fences at the corners taller than me standing on my pedals. The path has a constant layer of leaf debris and wetness. Iím still not confident with the tires gripping so I do slow for the tight and blind corners because Iíd rather error on the caution side. I fell once on my other bike (lapse of concentration and said debris / moisture) and donít want a repeat. The Tarmac costs enough and is too sharp.
On another note, I must be improving because a faster rider decided to pace with me.