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Old 07-16-07, 07:47 PM   #1
Beverly
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River Ride with a drafting lesson

Tonight was the club ride along the River Trail. This is normally a slower paced out and back ride along the trails. Tonight we had a couple on a tandem join us. He's a class A rider and does the Sunday breakfast ride on his single with the faster group. I ride in the slower group on Sunday with H and J.

We did the out section at the regular pace but when we started the return I was riding behind the tandem with J and H was riding beside the tandem. I heard H talking to them but wasn't paying too much attention to the conversation. H dropped back beside me and said "Okay, get ready for a lesson in drafting". H gave me a few pointers on drafting such as watching their wheel, watch their feet and keep the hands on the brakes. At this time the tandem started increasing their speed with H riding beside me giving me occasional instructions. Wow! What a ride. We kept the speed between 16-18 but increased to 20+ when we hit the long level stretch where we could see there was no approaching traffic. We only did this for a few miles but I was amazed at how easy it was to maintain these speeds. Any other time I would have been toast after riding at these speeds but tonight I didn't feel like I had to put forth any effort at all. I've done some drafting off single riders but tandems are fantastic. I'm sure we could have gone faster but the speed limit on the trail is 20 mph and we didn't want to break the law too much I think I could really learn to love drafting off a tandem.

No pie afterward but the wings and beer were a suitable substitute.
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Old 07-16-07, 07:50 PM   #2
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I've never experienced drafting but have read of its effects many times here. Hard to believe it has as much effect as you describe, but that's what everyone says.
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Old 07-16-07, 09:44 PM   #3
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As a tandem rider I can tell you they create quite the vortex. We were riding the Solvang century this year and slogging against a 20 mph headwind with a problem chain for 25 miles, picking up 1/2 bikes all the way. I wasn't looking back because I was working very hard just to maintain 12 to 14 mph against the wind. About 3 miles from the next sag I looked back and found we were pulling about 30 bikes. I have passed bikes on the flats and heard more than once "hook on the tandem train" and before you know it you have a bunch of wheel suckers. Drafting can be your friend on a fast ride and a tandem is the best to draft behind. Next time you have the opportunity, see if you can get someone to teach you pacelining. You will be amazed at how much more speed you can maintain for a lot longer time. Last Saturday we were pulling a group at 30 mph in the flats. Fortunately there were some Cat 3 riders in the group and they took their turns pulling as well instead of leaving it all to us. Unfortunately the dropped us on the last hill, 4 miles from the end of a 45 mile ride. We never caught the group although we did overtake four or them before we got to the end.
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Old 07-16-07, 10:01 PM   #4
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On my first BRAG ride in 1991, I got in with a paceline pulled by a very athletic couple on a C'dale tandem. It was on the final day of the ride going into Savannah - very flat. We made the second rest stop at 20 miles in less than an hour. We were cruising along at 25 mph most of the time. In the next leg, the paceline grew to more than 25 riders tagging along and started to get squirrelly so I let them go. It was amazing how easy it was to cruise along at that speed.
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Old 07-16-07, 10:58 PM   #5
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When we cross the Dumbarton Bridge, we ride on a two lane road through a wildlife refuge. There's hardly any traffic, so we sometimes bunch up 4-5 wide, just like the peloton. Once I was in the middle of the pack, and suddenly realized I was hardly pedaling at 18 mph.
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Old 07-17-07, 05:30 AM   #6
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There is nothing like sitting in a group of 30-40 riders in a bunch peloton going 25mph or faster. Your way down in a 53/15 pedaling at 95rpm feeling effortless as riders are moving up and back on both sides. Its scary and exiting all at the same time. Drafting is the bomb
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Old 07-17-07, 06:01 AM   #7
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I can only wish! LOL! We bought our Tandem in 1989 just so we wouldn't drop my wife on family rides. I think it made the Kids better riders because they had to step it up. My wife is a no gear change type gal, she would hardly ever change gears on her Touring bike unless I TOLD her too. It's just the way she was back then. The Tandem helped so much.

The only time I've had anyone draft off of my tandem was a few rides I was on with my youngest daughter. She's a hammer head and a fine stoker! I miss going on rides with her. We got to be a pretty good tandem team, and even got to the point where we could stand and hammer out of the saddle. It was fun seeing a Mountain Bike Tandem on Road Slicks pulling a few riders behind them! Man... That was a few years and many pounds ago!

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Old 07-17-07, 06:06 AM   #8
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Beverly: Drafting is indeed a great way to ride. It seems to kick the entire experience up a notch. And, you must have had a great time. I am curious about the instructions to watch their wheel and feet. I've always been told to try to keep one's head up and continue looking ahead. Can anyone offer clarity on this?
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Old 07-17-07, 06:32 AM   #9
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Watching the rear wheel isn't a good idea. You need to watch farther ahead. If the guy you're drafting isn't smooth enough to draft w/o staring at his back wheel, find someone else to draft.
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Old 07-17-07, 07:58 AM   #10
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Quote:
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Watching the rear wheel isn't a good idea. You need to watch farther ahead. If the guy you're drafting isn't smooth enough to draft w/o staring at his back wheel, find someone else to draft.
+1, Looking at the back wheel doesn't give you enough of a field of vision{the overall picture**
If you are not sure where your front wheel is or how close it is to the rear wheel in front of you, then a quick glance down is o.k. if you don't fixate on the rear wheel. It is better to look at the rider in front of you and also scan the road ahead of them {and their pedalling cadence** to anticipate a change in their pace.
At first it is better to leave a little more space between you and the bike in front untill you a more experienced in a pace line. Remember if there is contact between the back tire of one bike and the front tire of another bike.....the front tire looses.
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Old 07-17-07, 07:59 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BSLeVan
Beverly: Drafting is indeed a great way to ride. It seems to kick the entire experience up a notch. And, you must have had a great time. I am curious about the instructions to watch their wheel and feet. I've always been told to try to keep one's head up and continue looking ahead. Can anyone offer clarity on this?
H did say to keep looking ahead but continue to watch their wheel to check my distance from it and to watch for their feet to stop pedaling. The tandem riders were very good at calling their intentions to coast, slow down, etc. After the first few miles I was able to gauge my distance from the tandem and watch ahead more.
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Old 07-17-07, 08:06 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NotAsFat
Watching the rear wheel isn't a good idea. You need to watch farther ahead. If the guy you're drafting isn't smooth enough to draft w/o staring at his back wheel, find someone else to draft.
I wasn't clear when I said watch their rear wheel. He didn't mean for me to stare at their back wheel but rather watch that I didn't hit it.
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Old 07-17-07, 08:10 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beverly
H did say to keep looking ahead but continue to watch their wheel to check my distance from it and to watch for their feet to stop pedaling. The tandem riders were very good at calling their intentions to coast, slow down, etc. After the first few miles I was able to gauge my distance from the tandem and watch ahead more.
That is one of the greatest feelings you can have on a bike. Especially for the first time....although I never grow tired of the experience.
As you get more comfortable it will be even more fun and safe as well.
Great post, and you did it right by drafting with experienced riders for the first time. It is always important to know the rider in front.
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Old 07-17-07, 09:27 AM   #14
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Yeah, pack riding is fun and exciting, I've done lots of it. There were rides where I had no lingering memories of beautiful scenery, only backs, butts, and wheels. I do things a little more relaxed these days, but still enjoy a good draft when the chance arises.
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Old 07-17-07, 09:51 AM   #15
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Never drafted on a bike but -in my younger, stupid days (as opposed to my current, stupid days)- I would draft behind semis in my car (just like in Breaking Away). It does make a difference... a big one.
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Old 07-17-07, 10:54 AM   #16
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Beverly, did you have an opportunity to lead?
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Old 07-17-07, 07:00 PM   #17
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When young and stupid and usually broke, I'd draft my Yamaha XT-500 Enduro with my hobbit-frame behind semi-tractor trailors from town to town, to save gas. My guess this is where the Sci-Fi writers came up with the idea of tractor-beams that suck the Millenium Falcons into the DeathStars ... bodacious drafting.
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Old 07-17-07, 07:33 PM   #18
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Beverly, did you have an opportunity to lead?
I was in the lead on the out trip and the tandem was behind me but we were riding in the 13-15 range.

I get to do a lot of the lead on the breakfast ride. There are generally 3-4 of us. I think the fellows let me do most of the leading last year so I could set the pace. This year we've been switching most of the time
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Old 07-17-07, 08:03 PM   #19
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I think the fellows let me do most of the leading last year so I could set the pace.
Hmmm, that could be ONE reason why the fellows will let a lady lead the pace.
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Old 07-17-07, 08:12 PM   #20
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People keep telling me I'm lousy to draft behind.....
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Old 07-17-07, 08:21 PM   #21
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I've never drafted but I pulled a group of 4 for 12 miles once, seemed as though the drafters actually helped push me out in front. Passed another group of about 10 on an up hill at 22 mph...not sure I could do that alone..do those behind actually help the one in front or did I just have an exceptional ride?
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Old 07-17-07, 09:04 PM   #22
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Beverly, it's good that you're working with an intelligent and managable group. However, leave it to me to be the old futz and say: I've seen some disasterous results when spontaneous pace lines form, especially in big group rides--such as XOBA, which, I believe is on your agenda. It's so easy under those circumstances for wheels to touch, and such bad things can happen.

OK, sermon over.
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Old 07-18-07, 03:17 AM   #23
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It should be mentioned about possible consequences of drafting, if you're not careful. I haven't ridden in a while, but there was discussion on the internet about a group of riders in a club I belong to that did a ride a coup0le of weeks ago.

All I really know is that a gentleman was drafting behind some bikers in front of him, and for some reason their wheels must have come in contact. The gentleman crashed, and among other injuries, broke his collarbone.
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Old 07-18-07, 05:24 AM   #24
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Wheels touching is the major reason for most paceline crashing. The way to try and avoid this is if your wheels come in contact you cannot react the way you think which is to try and steer away from the wheel your touching this will cause the crash. The best thing to do is to stay steady or even slightly steer into the wheel and back off. This is true for bumping as well, if you come into contact with a rider on the side lean into them and they should do the same until you separate. Easier said than done though, as you can see even in the TdF the pros crash from wheel touches.
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Old 07-20-07, 05:29 PM   #25
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My number rule in drafting tandems.........never lose the tandem's wheel no matter what. Once you do you'll never get back on. You might think you can but you're just fooling yourself. Also, if the tandem needs a little help on the climbs, jump in front and help them a bit.
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