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Drafting a bus

Old 09-20-16, 06:49 AM
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Drafting a bus

Okay, I know this is probably very dangerous and unwise...but last night on my way home I stopped behind a bus at a railroad crossing. As it moved I thought, I'll try to keep up. How amazing was this? In no time the we were cruising at 45 km/h with not much effort on a stretch of road that I normally ride at 30. I was about 10 feet behind the bus and you could just feel the really, really strong tow. I only did for less than minute, and then had to turn off.

Okay, fess up. I know some of you have done this too, and probably for more than a minute.
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Old 09-20-16, 07:28 AM
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Well...

...to affirm you, I guess that it's better to draft behind a bus than to attempt to ride the gutter beside a bus.

I once drafted behind a garbage truck through semi-urban New Jersey on a morning ride. His pace matched mine through a series of block-by-block traffic lights that were synchronized. Unnerving was the foul liquid that trickled out his little drain pipe and spattered up onto me. It made me want to just let him go ahead. That's my cool story, bro...
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Old 09-20-16, 07:34 AM
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I have drafted a city truck that picks up bulky items once or twice. they were leaving the city yard (empty) and I was cruising around 25-30mph behind them no problem. Problem was when we approached the round about. I jumped back in the bike lane.
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Old 09-20-16, 07:57 AM
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City buses, school buses, garbage trucks, gravel trucks, cement mixers, 18-wheelers, panel vans... hell, I'll draft a Honda Accord if the lane is clear. I'll pull a draft off of any and all of them for as long as I feel safe doing it. I routinely ride through areas that are downright industrial-- I'd rather be right behind that truck pulling a 53' than in the gutter next to him, especially when he goes to make a right turn and doesn't see me.
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Old 09-20-16, 08:07 AM
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Unloaded trucks - those things can stop in place, better than a race car. Just beware of those. And potholes. If the road isn't familiar, avoid drafting. When you do, be very, very concentrated and careful.
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Old 09-20-16, 08:44 AM
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There are a lot of tour buses in DC, and in particular, along the stretch near the Tidal Basin. I can occasionally catch a draft and cruise along at 25+ mph for less than a mile. It's especially nice when there is a headwind coming up the river. There are a lot of racers training at the Hains Point loop that ride the same road, and one time a guy was about to catch me, when I latched onto a bus and pulled away. In my imagination, he was cursing at me, but in reality, probably didn't even notice.
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Old 09-20-16, 09:11 AM
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The town I live in has a long downhill leading out of town after a stoplight. I love getting behind an SUV or some other large vehicle on that and keeping it up over the speed limit all the way out of town.

I also love it when some big wind sucker passes me when I'm bucking a headwind. Car carriers are the best, those things pull a half mile of wind behind them.
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Old 09-20-16, 09:45 AM
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Bus is probably ok, driver is engaged. I don't know if I'd want to draft a texting trucker. This happened on our freeway yesterday, shutting it down during rush hour...

CHP: Big rig crashes into SUV, ignites on fire in Rancho Cordova | Sacramento News - KCRA Home

The driver of the car was watching his mirror and it saved his life, he avoided being a Mythbusters Compact Compact
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Old 09-20-16, 10:11 AM
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I think a bike can stop quicker than a big rig, so you're probably safe as long as you keep very attentive, and remember that you aren't visible to the driver. No need to ride with the wheel on the bumper, give them a good 10 feet or so.

I remember as a gradeschool kid, drafting my own schoolbus. But, still learning the ins and outs of the toeclips.

The bus stopped. I stopped. Feet remained in the clips... and you know the story, and half the school watched me do the classic flop.
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Old 09-20-16, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
I think a bike can stop quicker than a big rig, so you're probably safe as long as you keep very attentive, and remember that you aren't visible to the driver. No need to ride with the wheel on the bumper, give them a good 10 feet or so.

I remember as a gradeschool kid, drafting my own schoolbus. But, still learning the ins and outs of the toeclips.

The bus stopped. I stopped. Feet remained in the clips... and you know the story, and half the school watched me do the classic flop.
Must have been a small school, if half the school was on one bus.
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Old 09-20-16, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
Unloaded trucks - those things can stop in place, better than a race car. Just beware of those. And potholes. If the road isn't familiar, avoid drafting. When you do, be very, very concentrated and careful.
Can confirm.

Remember transit buses stop very quickly, they don't glide into a stop casually. They stop like they have to bust through a wall to get to the next level.

You creep up on them quickly when they stop, especially if you are shoulder checking.

Source: A possible story line to my life.
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Old 09-20-16, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
Must have been a small school, if half the school was on one bus.
Ok, maybe a little exaggeration....

But there would have been about 30x6 = 180 kids in the school. So, quite a few would be on a single bus. Of course, not all would be looking out the back window, but some were, and the word would get passed quickly.
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Old 09-20-16, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Ok, maybe a little exaggeration....

But there would have been about 30x6 = 180 kids in the school. So, quite a few would be on a single bus. Of course, not all would be looking out the back window, but some were, and the word would get passed quickly.
So, let's say maybe 5 or 6 kids saw you. By my calculation, that's closer to 3%. Saying that's a "little exaggeration" is itself an exaggeration. That's a huge exaggeration!
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Old 09-20-16, 11:30 AM
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It had never occurred to me to do this before too. It would be a huge help on those windy days when you're struggling just to push even 25 km/h.
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Old 09-20-16, 11:35 AM
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My best draft experience was when I landed with bike at JFK in NY. I couldn't find any non-highway road out and was very uncomfortable riding in that airport traffic and winding up on the Van Wyke Expressway.

While contemplating my options, I noticed that service trucks came by every so often. Like timing a wave, I got ready to jump onto the next one, got into the draft and stayed there as we cruised at 30-35mph. He took me out of the airport and onto a service road where I could escape onto Queens city streets.
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Old 09-20-16, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
Unloaded trucks - those things can stop in place, better than a race car. Just beware of those. And potholes. If the road isn't familiar, avoid drafting. When you do, be very, very concentrated and careful.
Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
My best draft experience was when I landed with bike at JFK in NY. I couldn't find any non-highway road out and was very uncomfortable riding in that airport traffic and winding up on the Van Wyke Expressway.

While contemplating my options, I noticed that service trucks came by every so often. Like timing a wave, I got ready to jump onto the next one, got into the draft and stayed there as we cruised at 30-35mph. He took me out of the airport and onto a service road where I could escape onto Queens city streets.
On my old commute route I would ride the shoulder of a road the was about 40-50 mph between lights. I could time the first light and usually catch a slow accelerating truck off the light and ride on the shoulder or white line behind him and cruise along at a good clip until I had to turn off.
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Old 09-20-16, 11:55 AM
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Used to do it all the time with a tractor trailer & box truck on the highway when I used to ride motorcycle back in the day.
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Old 09-20-16, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
He took me out of the airport and onto a service road where I could escape onto Queens city streets.
How were you able to read the exit signs while you were behind the truck?

I can't remember any specific times, but I'm sure I drafted some vehicles when I was younger. I'm not sure I'd do it today. Age has that effect on many of us, and I'm not saying I regret what I did, just that I probably wouldn't do it again.
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Old 09-20-16, 03:51 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
How were you able to read the exit signs while you were behind the truck?

.
Signs? We don't need no stinkin' signs!.

Seriously, I wasn't reading anything, except maybe the back of the truck until we got out of the maelstrom. JFK has a massive service area to the east, and when we got out there it was obvious that I could drop off and start searching for a "service exit". That brought me to Rockaway Blvd. and from there I could read signs and navigate my way through Queens and the Triboro Bridge and home.
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Old 09-20-16, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by mcours2006 View Post
Okay, I know this is probably very dangerous and unwise...but last night on my way home I stopped behind a bus at a railroad crossing. As it moved I thought, I'll try to keep up. How amazing was this? In no time the we were cruising at 45 km/h with not much effort on a stretch of road that I normally ride at 30. I was about 10 feet behind the bus and you could just feel the really, really strong tow. I only did for less than minute, and then had to turn off.

Okay, fess up. I know some of you have done this too, and probably for more than a minute.
As I recall, a friend and I did this on at least one occasion as teenagers when riding our bikes back home from downtown Winnipeg along Portage or Ness avenue. Buses almost never make sudden (high G) stops from cruising speed, at least in my experience, so it seemed pretty safe. You could also tell by the bus's signal lights, and people waiting at the next stop, when it was a good time to coast.
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Old 09-20-16, 05:35 PM
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I drafted a bus once for a few short seconds between the time it passed me and immediately slowed to make a stop.
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Old 09-20-16, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
So, let's say maybe 5 or 6 kids saw you. By my calculation, that's closer to 3%. Saying that's a "little exaggeration" is itself an exaggeration. That's a huge exaggeration!
It was many years ago. But, it would have been in the first mile or so from school, so a fully loaded bus of 40 kids or so.

No doubt the ones who saw me screamed. Obviously I wasn't on the bus, but I'm surprised it didn't flip over backwards as the 40 kids on it would have undoubtedly scrambled to the back to look out.

The next day, word would have spread quickly in a small school with "Big News".
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Old 09-20-16, 06:09 PM
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I don't feel safe drafting a truck or bus, mainly because it could pass over a pothole/brick/dead dog/etc. 2 or 3 times I've drafted a slow (40-45kph) truck on a smooth road I knew well. It's nice, but not worth the risk IMO.
OTOH, some of my roadie friends love to draft trucks, the faster the better.
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Old 09-20-16, 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Reynolds View Post
I don't feel safe drafting a truck or bus, mainly because it could pass over a pothole/brick/dead dog/etc. 2 or 3 times I've drafted a slow (40-45kph) truck on a smooth road I knew well. It's nice, but not worth the risk IMO.
OTOH, some of my roadie friends love to draft trucks, the faster the better.
Riding in NYC's traffic stream you learn to adapt to the problem of potholes or whatever suddenly appearing out from under the car ahead. When I lived downtown and rode Broadway from the 80's to the Village nightly, it got to where I had every major pothole catalogued in my head.

However, rain filled potholes were a major cause of rim dents, and why I soon gave up rebuilding light wheels because of dents, and got good at working them out to decent rideability.
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Old 09-20-16, 06:29 PM
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Drafting a bus is great... until you hit a giant pot hole and do a face plant. Not my story, my sons, while I was out of town on business. His Mom had the pleasure of taking him to hospital and spending the night in emergency room. He was going to fast to react. And he still has not learned his lesson.
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