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Old 07-30-08, 06:00 PM   #1
The Weak Link
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55 y/o seeks advice re: touring/charity rides

Touring as used in this thread is defined as a long (>40 miles) large group ride typically involving registration fees, complimentary T-shirts, and SAG stops. It may be one or multiple days.

I've signed up for the Old Kentucky Home Tour (www.okht.org) in September and am already torquing out about it. It's 55 miles out, overnight at Bardstown, and 55 miles back.

When I've gone on group rides before, I've ridden with hammerheads, which means that I enjoy the benefits of a paceline until the first big hill and I get shelled out the back.

It would be easier I think if I could find some like-minded lazy souls who are willing to take advantage of drafting. I don't want to attach myself leech-like to someone's rear wheel. I don't mind if someone attaches to mine, because it would be a first for me.

Is there an etiquette about such things?
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Old 07-30-08, 06:14 PM   #2
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I generally find folks to ride with for an hour or two. I talk with them, then either they or I stop for something or whatever, and then I form a new group of friends. It passes the time of day rather nicely.

Obviously, I am not into pace lines.

For only 55 miles, why not enjoy the scenery?
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Old 07-30-08, 06:23 PM   #3
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Only serious paceline with those you trust and who will look out for each other. Pacelines have pretty strict etiquette and rules, sometimes people get angry. I don't want a careless rider on my back wheel and I won't ride the wheel of someone I don't trust. The issue is not etiquette, its safety. If you do find yourself sucking wheel off someone you don't know make sure you always have a safe bailout and look at the road ahead of them/you - don't stare at thier wheel.

I have never done a tour ride like this with a group, sounds like a lot of fun. I wanted to do an MS150 once (2 - 75 mile days) but had an injury when I was training for it and had to drop out.

Have fun - I am jealous
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Old 07-30-08, 10:37 PM   #4
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I don't know how many will be on this ride, but if it's anything over 100, you shouldn't have any trouble finding a couple of like-riding groups. Maybe think "drafting" instead of "paceline". Or "real close single file riding". I find when I am in a casual group of 4-8 riders I find some folks like to ride in front and don't mind pulling others along. Others are OK hanging back. If you can, move to the front now and then. If it's allowed (closed course?), riding 2-3 abreast is a good way to chat and not look like you are always the wheel sucker.
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Old 07-30-08, 10:59 PM   #5
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Some of these tips should work for you.

As for drafting with strangers or new acquaintances, I would play it by ear. If you notice anyone riding at a pace close to yours, watch them. If they are riding pretty steadily, follow from a little distance. If you think it's a good wheel to follow, ask if they mind if you hop on their wheel. Or slowly pass and see if they try to catch your wheel. If it happens, it happens. If not, just enjoy the ride.
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Old 07-31-08, 12:15 AM   #6
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Over in the Northwest forum, there was a long discussion about the etiquette of drafting on group rides (should you draft on someone else's paceline; should you ask before you join a paceline; what kind of paceline to join, etc.). Some of this dialogue is shaped by the fact that the STP is a pretty crowded ride, and the early miles in particular can be hectic.

You may find some of this useful to get a sense for some of the etiquette assumptions:

STP Paceline Question

(STP = Seattle to Portland. It's a little over 200 miles...most people do it in two days, some do it in one).
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Old 07-31-08, 04:47 AM   #7
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Thanks, especially those last two posts! Very helpful information, exactly what I wanted to know.
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Old 07-31-08, 04:50 AM   #8
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Thanks, especially those last two posts! Very helpful information, exactly what I wanted to know.
I feel so . . . . . . . . . . . slighted!

(Have a ball!)
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Old 07-31-08, 05:03 AM   #9
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I have ridden many charity rides and you can almost always find others that will ride a pace comfortable for you. As others have said be very careful when riding with folks you don't know and watch the road well ahead of the person you are following. As for pace lines and drafting if you aren't willing to take your turn on the front it's bad form to just set in and get a free ride. I don't mind if someone hops on my wheel for a while but when they just sit there mile after mile I don't like it and will usually slow down to get them to pass.
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Old 07-31-08, 05:53 AM   #10
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Take a crash kit and use good mirrors. I like the company, but I won't do these anymore. The mix proves terrifying for the first bits. Often annoys motorists with dang good reason. Weirdness slips out for some people when they're in a group.

But they're really fun, other than the risk of death and maiming, and the need for vigilance.

After 15 miles, usually things thin out and it's OK.

Problem isn't the average behavior, it's that in a large group the outliers come to play and cause trouble. Weaving mama plus head down teen doesn't work real well.
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Old 07-31-08, 06:24 AM   #11
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In the one tour I did last year I noticed that the first five miles resembled the "highway Of Hell" of Basra during the First Gulf War: the roadway was littered with broken down bikes that hadn't so much had seen a drop of WD-40 in the last five years, with riders having sprinted full blast like it was the last 500 meters of a TdF leg and were gasping for air and asking to be killed on the spot to be put out of their misery.

So I guess one of the keys is to either go out fast with a lead group, or go out very slowly and hope to survive the harsh Darwinian process of group riding dynamics.
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Old 07-31-08, 06:28 AM   #12
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When I'm riding I wait for a group to come along, at a pace that looks pretty close to the speed I like and jump in. If I get dropped, I'll wait for another one. They seem to come in waves.
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Old 07-31-08, 07:42 AM   #13
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So I guess one of the keys is to either go out fast with a lead group, or go out very slowly and hope to survive the harsh Darwinian process of group riding dynamics.
I prefer a third option between those two. Let the fast bunch leave ahead of you so you don't get tempted to ride over your head. Then I go at my pace ahead of most of the moving road hazards. You will still have to pass a few slower wobbly riders who took off with the lead group and quickly got dropped and there will be some fast pacelines who started late. Watch out for the ones who are too cool to call out "on your left".
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Old 07-31-08, 09:44 AM   #14
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Unless I actually planned to ride with another person, I figure on riding by myself. I usually end up linking up with someone just before or after the first rest stop that is riding at my pace. For 55 miles I wouldn't plan on pacelining anyway. Riding with groups I've found the majority of them start out too hard, then straggle in at the end. The two centuries I've ridden were almost totally by myself with no drafting, less than 10 miles total both times.
A more experienced rider in my club once told me for a long ride; "Start out slow, and taper off".
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