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'Drafting' étiquette

Old 06-06-11, 04:16 PM
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ajuhasz
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'Drafting' étiquette

I just finished my first century ride (LA River ride) and had a question on etiquette. Is it OK to stick behind someone and draft them for a while?

Bonus question: I think I'm starting to pick up the hand signals. One I wasn't sure about was a first behind the back with a finger up, it was the index finger... I assumed this meant single file since we were all in the street between the parked cars and the moving cars.

Adam
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Old 06-06-11, 08:09 PM
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Better to ask and/or let them know you're back there. (Personally, in a charity-ride situation, I would avoid drafting strangers, rather ride slower by myself than right on the tail of someone I don't know.)
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Old 06-06-11, 08:28 PM
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I don't like people drafting me, it too dangerous but I expect someone to ask before drafting behind me.
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Old 06-07-11, 03:43 AM
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Originally Posted by ajuhasz View Post
I just finished my first century ride (LA River ride) and had a question on etiquette. Is it OK to stick behind someone and draft them for a while?
No.

1) It's dangerous. If the rider in front slows or stops, and you run into the rider in front ... YOU fall over. If the rider in front suddenly dodges a pothole ... YOU will fall in it.

2) It's creepy. I don't want some complete stranger riding that closely to me ... especially not without introducing themselves and chatting a while. Would you walk down the sidewalk or through a shopping centre intentionally glued to the side of a complete stranger?


Originally Posted by ajuhasz View Post
Bonus question: I think I'm starting to pick up the hand signals. One I wasn't sure about was a first behind the back with a finger up, it was the index finger... I assumed this meant single file since we were all in the street between the parked cars and the moving cars.
I'm thinking it means to move out in the direction the finger is pointing because there is a parked car in the line of travel.
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Old 06-07-11, 06:09 AM
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In an organized ride situation, riders should expect to draft and to be drafted. It's the dynamics of a mass start and folks finding their pace, road and traffic conditions, etc. So yes, it's acceptable to draft for a while.

It's a good idea not to draft too tight until you assess that they are competent: I usually don't get closer than one bike length at first. It's also courteous to offer to pull if the situation warrants it. Communication never hurts.

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Old 06-07-11, 06:32 AM
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On a charity ride, permission to draft is implied IMO.
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Old 06-07-11, 06:42 AM
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The only people I draft are those I ride with on a regular basis. We know each other and how we ride. We also communicate with each other with hand signals that we all know. I would NEVER draft a stranger or want one to draft me.
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Old 06-07-11, 06:43 AM
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No, never draft someone unless you announce yourself. If the person in front says no, back off or go around.

I saw someone stop suddenly in a large century becuase a friend on the side of the road yelled. More than a dozen unannouced people behind drafting went into a big pileup.
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Old 06-07-11, 07:07 AM
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In an organised ride situation, riders are set off in a group, and pacelines will likely form, there will likely be drafting, and there could be some pushing and shoving from the sides. I'm not fond of being set off in a large group for that reason.

However, once you get out on the course riding by yourself or a friend or two, drafting a stranger unannounced is frowned on. And it is especially bad if you draft a stranger for a while, and then suddenly pull around the stranger and disappear in the distance. How rude!! And that has happened to me twice!!
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Old 06-07-11, 08:01 AM
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Terrible idea. Draft off riders you know and are confident of. I do this with my friends only.
I either drop wheelsuckers or slow way down forcing them to pass. I'm there to have fun not kill myself.
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Old 06-07-11, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by ctyler View Post
The only people I draft are those I ride with on a regular basis. We know each other and how we ride. We also communicate with each other with hand signals that we all know. I would NEVER draft a stranger or want one to draft me.
Through the years I've gotten more and more selective about who I'll draft with. The list is down to a very select few.

The last place that I'd willingly draft would be on a charity ride or something like RAGBRAI. The guy immediately in front of you might be in his first pace line ever. Just because lots of people choose to do something doesn't make it smart.
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Old 06-08-11, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by rogerstg View Post
In an organized ride situation, riders should expect to draft and to be drafted. It's the dynamics of a mass start and folks finding their pace, road and traffic conditions, etc. So yes, it's acceptable to draft for a while.

It's a good idea not to draft too tight until you assess that they are competent: I usually don't get closer than one bike length at first. It's also courteous to offer to pull if the situation warrants it. Communication never hurts.
Yours is the only reply I noticed that says drafting is not an all or none thing. One is still getting significant benefits 2 or 3 lengths back.

In most charity rides there is no choice but to draft for much of the ride. The nasty part is the easier the ride (and likely the less experienced the riders) the more you are apt to be stuck in a mass.

The only organized, paid for, century I did was the Lighthouse Century years ago, it was like 2 entirely different rides, because I did the highland option. Before the routes split I was in a mass (and passing when possible). After the split I was alone, except when being passed. Once they remerged back to long lines of riders.

I ahve no problem with someone drafting me, it is nice when they announce and take a pull (if they can). The draft and then drop or unannounced 2 inch off the wheel drafters are a different thing.
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Old 06-08-11, 11:23 AM
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I'm gonna go with the "with permission" camp. I generally never draft unless riding with someone I know well. He and I take turns pulling, and we both know each other's riding quirks.

I had a guy on a folding bike drafting me on my commute. He made a disappointed comment when I turned off.
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Old 06-09-11, 09:24 PM
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I say, ask. At a minimum, make sure the person knows you are there for the reason stated by StanSeven. Also agree that you should offer to do your share.

Now for the other part of the equation - etiquette once you are in a paceline:

1) Don't accelerate when you hit the front. Please. There is nothing worse than being behind someone who thinks they have an obligation to up the pace 5 mph every time they put their nose into the wind.
2) For God's sake, learn how to ride in a straight line before you start trading wheels. I lied in #1 - squirrelly riders in a pace line are the worst. And they will get dropped without mercy.
3) Don't take 15 minute pulls up front. You will die. Keep it to no more than a minute if there are two of you, less if the other rider is clearly stronger. With four of you, count to ten and swing off. These are guidelines, not hard and fast rules - if you are teh locomotive that ride and are towing the others, adjust times in fromt accordingly - but the point of the line is for everyone to go faster by working together, not to kill yourself. If you feel fried on the front, you've been there too long.
4) When you swing off, drop back gradually, using that time to grab a quick drink if you want. Don't go for the bottle when you are in the line or at the front.
5) When you are in the line, try not to focus on the rear wheel of the person in front of you - that's a sure cause of getting mesmerized and not reactng when you need to. Try to keep an eye several riders in front or, if you can, on the road on front of the lead rider so you can anticipate what's coming and how to respond to it.
6) Don't overlap wheels. Remember, when wheels touch, the rider on the touched rear wheel may go down, but the rider with the touched front wheel will go down. Pretty much every time.
7) Above all, be predictable. That means not doing anything - turning, braking, anything - suddenly unless it is absolutely necessary. Being able to do that requires paying attention and a lot of #5.
8) If you are starting to fry and don't think you can keep up the pace, try very hard not to drop off until you reach the front and can swing off and just not latch back on the back. Sitting up or swnging off when in the middle of the group may cause an accident, and will definitely force others to have to jump the gap or lose the line. Kinda not cool, although sometimes unavoidable.

Do these things and you will be welcome in almost any pace line you feel strong enough to join.
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Old 06-11-11, 11:38 PM
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Originally Posted by ajuhasz View Post
I just finished my first century ride (LA River ride) and had a question on etiquette. Is it OK to stick behind someone and draft them for a while?

Bonus question: I think I'm starting to pick up the hand signals. One I wasn't sure about was a first behind the back with a finger up, it was the index finger... I assumed this meant single file since we were all in the street between the parked cars and the moving cars.

Adam
There`s a big difference driving behind someone and drafting. For drefting to be effective the distances are measured in inches - not feet. In an organized outing you`re going to end up driving behind someone ocassionally, and that already requires some caution.

But actual drafting? I`d never even consider it without discussing it ahead of time and certainly not with anyone whose driving habits and capabilities I knew nothing about.
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Old 06-12-11, 04:50 AM
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Ask first. Keep in mind that some don't know how to lead. If the leader does something quick and unexpected that hits your front wheel, you will be the one going down.
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Old 06-12-11, 05:09 AM
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I am a good climber (in my opinion). I regularly pass "good" riders when the grade goes up, then they pass me on the flat sections. If I am leading the paceline, should I slow down going up hills, so I don't drop those behind me? I can easily spin up steep hills when the paceline starts to spread out. Or should I just use this time to rest, so I can maintain a faster pace on the flat sections?
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Old 06-12-11, 09:44 AM
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And don't forget that if you're drafting someone without their knowledge, you are likely to be the recipient of a snot rocket.
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Old 06-12-11, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by mwchandler21 View Post
On a charity ride, permission to draft is implied IMO.
???
No. Drafting somebody who you don't know and who might not be aware that you are drafting is dangerous.
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Old 06-12-11, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Keith99 View Post
Yours is the only reply I noticed that says drafting is not an all or none thing. One is still getting significant benefits 2 or 3 lengths back.
According to the following, it drops off rapidly as you go to 2 bike lengths. At 3 bike lengths is not significantly better than the extrapolated benefit at 6 bike lengths.

http://ironman.com/mediacenter/press...#axzz1P5VwwK3E

After evaluating the data, the team determined that under perfect testing conditions, the drafting benefit decreases rapidly as the drafting distance increases up to 5.8 meters (2 bike lengths). At drafting distances greater than 5.8 meters, the drafting benefit continues to drop, but at a greatly reduced rate. Although the engineers were not able to test for distances greater than 7.7 meters, extrapolating the data suggests that a rider trailing at six lengths would have similar draft force to a rider that's trailing at a three-length distance. What does that mean? Ironman's three bike-length rule remains intact.
Originally Posted by Burton View Post
For drafting to be effective the distances are measured in inches - not feet.
People can get benefits without being as close as "inches" and without the level of risk and required-attention that "inches" requires.

http://www.kirunahasse.se/luleackold...d/brekaway.pdf

Looking at the V0max curve in figure 1, the effort (smaller numbers indicate less effort) at

0.0 meters is 0.69
0.5 meters is 0.70
1.0 meters is 0.72
2.0 meters is 0.82
3.0 meters is 1.00 (close to no benefit at all).

Last edited by njkayaker; 06-12-11 at 01:00 PM.
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Old 06-12-11, 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
According to the following, it drops off rapidly as you go to 2 bike lengths. At 3 bike lengths is not significantly better than the extrapolated benefit at 6 bike lengths.

http://ironman.com/mediacenter/press...#axzz1P5VwwK3E




People can get benefits without being as close as "inches" and without the level of risk and required-attention that "inches" requires.

http://www.kirunahasse.se/luleackold...d/brekaway.pdf

Looking at the V0max curve in figure 1, the effort (smaller numbers indicate less effort) at

0.0 meters is 0.69
0.5 meters is 0.70
1.0 meters is 0.72
2.0 meters is 0.82
3.0 meters is 1.00 (close to no benefit at all).
Driving safety guidelines in every country I`m aware of recommend leaving one carlength between you and the veichle in front of you for every 10 mph or km/hr of velocity. The average family sedan size is about 5 meters so even at 10 km/hr that puts you outside any effective drafting range.. At 40 km/hr (the speed at which the numbers you referenced were generated) that would be a
recommended safe distance of 20 meters.

Even if you wanted to stretch a point and pretend that brakes on a bicycle are better and a bicyclists reactions are faster so we could use bicycle lengths instead - at 40 km/hr thats still 4 bicycle lengths or about 6 meters. Still well outside any effective drafting range.

Now of course most people don`t do that and bicyclists are no exception. So what you`ll probably propose is that following another cyclist at a distance of one or two meters at 40 km/hr isn`t a problem and that where I`m going to disagree with you. That distance is so far inside any safety zone that I`d rather measure that distance in inches instead of feet. Or cm instead of meters if you prefer.

And don`t try to sell me on the `no real danger` issue. Every week down the street from where I live, an organized cycle race is staged involving hundreds of cyclists from clubs around the city. And every week there are crashes that take out other cyclists because the distances between the cyclists is too small to avoid being caught up in the accident. In a competition on a closed circuit the risk is an accepted fact of life. If you want to promote those same risks and driving habits on public roads with mixed traffic and riders of limited experience - you have NONE OF MY SUPPORT.
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Old 06-12-11, 05:39 PM
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Chill out dude. This thread is not about cars drafting on the road. It is about cyclists who understand the risks and voluntarily choose to follow each other within inches to preserve energy.
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Old 06-12-11, 05:58 PM
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http://dsc.discovery.com/videos/myth...-tailgate.html
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Old 06-12-11, 06:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Burton View Post
Now of course most people don`t do that and bicyclists are no exception. So what you`ll probably propose is that following another cyclist at a distance of one or two meters at 40 km/hr isn`t a problem and that where I`m going to disagree with you. That distance is so far inside any safety zone that I`d rather measure that distance in inches instead of feet. Or cm instead of meters if you prefer.
Huh?

I was just saying that "measured in inches" (understood as a small distance of a few inches) was not required for drafting (talking about bicycles only) to be "effective".

The fact that you do not believe (I guess) it is safe to draft at all doesn't alter the physics of the act.

Last edited by njkayaker; 06-12-11 at 06:21 PM.
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Old 06-12-11, 06:50 PM
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Interesting thread ... surprising diversity of responses.

My 2c is, by the 2nd half of a charity-type ride you have a good idea of the capabilities of the riders around you, that is, they are probably similar to your capabilities. Every such ride I have been in naturally forms into pacelines (at least near the front, that is).

Personally if I catch someone who's been dropped off a faster line, I shout hi and grab his wheel without hesitation, and expect to take turns pulling until one of us gets dropped or we collect more riders and build our own line. To me, that's part of the whole group spirit of such a ride.
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