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Old 09-25-08, 05:43 PM   #1
stevage
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Drafting while touring

I'm curious how much of the time people spend in a drafting pattern on tours. On a recent tour, I would say it was about 10-20%, mostly during headwinds or when riding with a slower rider and trying to catch up to the group.

I have to say though I'm really going off the practice. Once, the rider in front crashed while trying to talk to me over his shoulder, then I ride over the top of him - could have been nasty. He had a few cuts and scrapes - I had nothing. Then the next day, another near miss as the rider in front had a massive wobble. And I really don't enjoy having to concentrate so much on the road in front, hands on the brakes when there's scenery to enjoy...

Thoughts, anyone?

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Old 09-25-08, 06:09 PM   #2
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1. I DO NOT draft behind anyone I don't know very well. So, if I went on an organized tour (or ride of any sort), and didn't know anyone there, I would not draft.

2. I tend to avoid drafting even if I do know the person very well. I tense up when I draft and end up with a stiff neck, sore shoulders, and a headache. However, that said, I seem to be able to draft behind Rowan, and I'm usually fine. But he rides at a very steady pace, and in a very straight line, and points out anything that might cause us difficulty in the road.

3. Unless there is a heavy wind and you're trying to make the campsite before dark, what's the point of drafting on a tour?
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Old 09-25-08, 06:27 PM   #3
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I would add to Machka's remarks that if you are drafting you are concentrated on the bike in front of you and not the scenery that surrounds you, It defeats the purpose of touring IMO.
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Old 09-25-08, 06:34 PM   #4
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On the last great Vic bike ride I did some drafting. There are some experienced groups who I wouldn't join, some beginners I wouldn't join, but also some more relaxed groups that don't mind if you join in. It's more social and you go maybe 10% faster, partly from the encouragement and partly from less wind resistance. Yes you have to be careful.

I don't think I'd be too keen if I was loaded up with gear. Also if I'm carrying my camping gear usually I'm cycling alone so it isn't usually an option.
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Old 09-25-08, 06:39 PM   #5
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On my last tour my buddy would tend to stick a little to close to my right or my left. It made me feel uncomfortable . I want to see him in my mirror or up ahead somewhere. There is way too much to worry about to draft while while touring. Traffic, road hazards etc. I want to know where my touring companions are located.

And then there is just plain enjoying the view as stated previously.
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Old 09-25-08, 06:41 PM   #6
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I ride alone, so the only draughting I do is at night in the pub.
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Old 09-25-08, 06:44 PM   #7
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On my last tour my buddy would tend to stick a little to close to my right or my left. It made me feel uncomfortable . I want to see him in my mirror or up ahead somewhere. There is way too much to worry about to draft while while touring. Traffic, road hazards etc. I want to know where my touring companions are located.

And then there is just plain enjoying the view as stated previously.
This made me smile ... I did a hub-and-spoke tour on the August long weekend, and on the first day the group decided to go off in different directions. I wanted to do a century that day and had planned my route on a map. When we discussed what we were all going to do, at first, I was the only one doing the century, but then one guy decided to do it with me ... because he didn't want me out there all by myself, being a woman and all. And he rode, glued to my butt, just out of mirror view, the whole way. WOW is that ever uncomfortable!!!

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Old 09-25-08, 06:54 PM   #8
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My wife and I take turns drafting off each other while on tour but like Machka suggested, I don't think I'd do it with anyone else. Kind of like with a climbing partner, you've got to have communication down packed with the other and completely have trust in one another.
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Old 09-25-08, 07:08 PM   #9
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Any time your going to draft (paceline) of any sort I think it's really important for eveyone to discuss it. If someone is not experienced or not comfortable they probably should not draft. On club rides we ride in pacelines most of the time but it sure detracts from seeing any scenery.
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Old 09-25-08, 08:19 PM   #10
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It's hard to draft when you tour solo.
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Old 09-25-08, 09:11 PM   #11
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I do a lot of club rides, but on tour I don't usually end up drafting. I tend to ride too slow for drafting to have much of an effect anyway.

However, it is a good excuse to use a tandem, if you're riding with a highly compatible touring partner.
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Old 09-25-08, 10:08 PM   #12
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If you're under 12 mph there is really no draft benefit. If we are going to have a long day and need some heavy mileage we will take turns pulling, but otherwise we don't even bother. On our club rides we all draft but then we are close to 30 mph. With the additional weight of the panniers it makes it real difficult to react to the person you're behind and makes it a little to nerve racking.
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Old 09-25-08, 10:15 PM   #13
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I just completed a tour with one partner. We did some drafting. Sometimes it was helpful, and other times it was irritating to have to concentrate that much instead of being able to look around. In addition to the usual bike-traffic-wind related stuff, drafting adds another level of interpersonal issues that need to be dealt with - lots of communication needed, with potential ego involvement. I didn't like (and wasn't good at) that part.
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Old 09-25-08, 10:33 PM   #14
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I ride alone, so the only draughting I do is at night in the pub.
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Old 09-25-08, 11:09 PM   #15
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Drafting helps a ton when you're running late or in a strong head wind. I toured with a guy that made drafting off me into a science. He would also grab on to trucks when going uphill. I felt fairly comfortable drafting off of others but always stayed several inches behind with my wheel a bit over to the left or right so I wouldn't go right into the wheel in front of me if there was a sudden brake.

If you're really gonna draft closely you have to communicate. The person in front has a responsibility to ride straight and steady and should call out obstacles in advance. Each person behind has to ride with enough room in between and must pay attention to the rider(s) in front. All that said, I never really wanted to draft unless there was a good reason.
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Old 09-26-08, 05:04 AM   #16
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Old 09-26-08, 05:21 AM   #17
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We drafted a lot on our TA. You need to be able to trust the other riders. You also need to be going at 16 MPH or more for it to matter much UNLESS there is a headwind. We often rode at 18-22 MPH on the flats so at those time drafting was the order of the day.

On the scenery thing... I really didn't miss much. We didn't draft all the time. In the more scenic areas we stopped to enjoy the scenery. We also still were able to glance around a bit while drafting and could always ride a few feet off of the wheel in front for a bit too look around. This is possible in a small group that you trust. Also in places like Eastern Colorado, Kansas, and Illinois one look was sufficient, because the scenery didn't change much.

When the wind is 20 MPH and on your nose and the scenery is like this, I am satisfied with a glance once in a while

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Old 09-26-08, 12:04 PM   #18
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I've drafted & offered drafting on a bunch of occassions. Usually due to foul weather/wind, or following a rider to get into/out of a city.

My favorite drafts are farm equipment. Obviously you really have to be carefull, but sometimes it's a heck of a fun challenge just to keep up. Most times the driver is quite suprised to see me still keeping up.
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Old 09-26-08, 03:05 PM   #19
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+1 to Camel, drafting tractors is awesome! They drive in the margin and go 18mph, which is a perfectly easy speed to maintain as long as there isn't any hills. I've drafted a couple of tractors for over five miles.
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