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Riding Etiquette - Riding on my Wheel!

Old 08-18-10, 10:10 PM
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cthenn
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Riding Etiquette - Riding on my Wheel!

Ok, I'm prompted to post this after a couple of rides last week. I've had this happen before, but last week it happened twice. First time, I'm riding up (down?) Danville Blvd toward San Ramon when I ride up on a guy, and casually pass him. Now, this was simply due to the speed difference of our casual riding. He looked casual, I was certainly casual, and I even said "hi". As soon as I go around him, this guy speeds up and rides right on my rear wheel. I would have guessed he was going around 15 mph and I was going around 18 mph, so it was not like I was inching past him. It was definitely a speed up for him. I kind of don't like this, so I speed up. He speeds up. Now we're both going 20+ and starting to work. This goes on for a few miles before he gets out of the saddle, speeds up again and passes me. About 50 feet in front of me, he turns around and looks at me like I'm Jan Ullrich and he's Lance Armstrong about to explode. (At least, that's what I'm sure is going on in his mind.) I continue my pace and we stay separated by the same distance. However, not more than a few minutes later, he pulls over in a parking lot and dismounts at his car.

So...all of those gyrations, and he pulls over 2 minutes after he "dropped me", or whatever he thought. I roll past him and can only shake my head thinking "WTF???"

Second time was yesterday on Mt. Diablo. I'm riding at a comfortable pace, when I roll up on a guy not going as fast. I casually say "hello" and move on. I've passed many a rider on the mountain, and been passed by many others. In either case, we say hi, or not, when a pass occurs, and move on. But for some reason, this guy tries to lift, and rides up along side me. Then he says nothing. He's just riding along side, saying nothing. Soon enough, I can hear his breathing start to labor, and soon drops off. Hard. In about two switchbacks, he's way back. I'm not trying to say I'm a baddass or whatever, but he obviously went too hard in an attempt to keep up, and then bonked. So, why would you do that?

In both cases, I'm just doing a ride, not hammering, not "showing off" or whatever. (Hell, I'm too slow to show off!) But I don't appreciate someone I DON'T KNOW riding on my wheel. To me, it's a safety thing. I don't know you, and you don't know me. You don't know how I ride to safely be that close to me. Last thing I want is to brake unexpectedly and have some guy with a hurt ego smash into me. I would have said something, but in both cases, the time was too short, not more than a few minutes. I'll admit that sometimes I will try to *pace* off of a rider in front of me, but I never ever ride up on someone I don't know. It's rude, and if you aren't invited, you should not be there.

Or am I wrong?
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Old 08-18-10, 11:00 PM
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It happens to me from time to time too. But I think it's one of two things, one being maybe they just want to get towed to their destination faster because they have to get back soon. Secondly, which would be my reason sometimes to try to keep up on a climb is that the only way to test yourself and your form sometimes is....to well, test yourself, harder pace, or whatnot. Some people just need motivation to go faster.

I do understand your concern of safety though and how he has no idea on your riding skills. That concerns me too esp. when it gets to a portion of the city where it's crowded or not as open.
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Old 08-18-10, 11:16 PM
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as a beginning rider ill often try to pace with faster people, but before i do anything ill strike up a conversation and ask if its ok for me to ride with them, never had any problems

*edit* i only ask to pace on climbs where ill ride near or alongside a rider. i never draft without a specific invitation

Last edited by Tim Aiken; 08-18-10 at 11:18 PM. Reason: clarification
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Old 08-19-10, 12:13 AM
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My problem is that, as a gravity-enhanced cyclist, my speed varies a lot on rolling roads. This means that I pass people on the way down, then they pass me on the way up, and this can happen a couple times in the course of a couple miles.

I'm not going to ride the brakes on the downhill to avoid passing them, but I imagine that they they might think I was trying to race.
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Old 08-19-10, 12:24 AM
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Originally Posted by cthenn View Post
Ok, I'm prompted to post this after a couple of rides last week. I've had this happen before, but last week it happened twice. First time, I'm riding up (down?) Danville Blvd toward San Ramon when I ride up on a guy, and casually pass him. Now, this was simply due to the speed difference of our casual riding. He looked casual, I was certainly casual, and I even said "hi". As soon as I go around him, this guy speeds up and rides right on my rear wheel. I would have guessed he was going around 15 mph and I was going around 18 mph, so it was not like I was inching past him. It was definitely a speed up for him. I kind of don't like this, so I speed up. He speeds up. Now we're both going 20+ and starting to work. This goes on for a few miles before he gets out of the saddle, speeds up again and passes me. About 50 feet in front of me, he turns around and looks at me like I'm Jan Ullrich and he's Lance Armstrong about to explode. (At least, that's what I'm sure is going on in his mind.) I continue my pace and we stay separated by the same distance. However, not more than a few minutes later, he pulls over in a parking lot and dismounts at his car.

So...all of those gyrations, and he pulls over 2 minutes after he "dropped me", or whatever he thought. I roll past him and can only shake my head thinking "WTF???"

I'm with you on this one. I pass a significant number of people on my commute and every so often I get a case like this. Its basically a secret sprint point that only he knows where it is. The sad thing is that he probably thinks that he is the faster rider because he managed to stay out in front of you for a couple minutes at the end of his ride when you had howevermany kms or 10s of kms to get.

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Old 08-19-10, 12:35 AM
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I run into that a lot with amateurs. It's annoying but it's just something I've quit worrying about. When someone speeds up to latch onto my rear wheel I just keep the same pace and keep plugging along. I know they won't last long once we hit any type of uphill.
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Old 08-19-10, 07:40 AM
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It's quite common. As long as he is behind you, he's the one to go down if wheels touch. I use these situations as a training opportunity to see who can hang on the longest. Think nothing about it and continue your ride, you'll meet all kinds cycling.
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Old 08-19-10, 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by cthenn View Post
Ok, I'm prompted to post this after a couple of rides last week. I've had this happen before, but last week it happened twice. First time, I'm riding up (down?) Danville Blvd toward San Ramon when I ride up on a guy, and casually pass him. Now, this was simply due to the speed difference of our casual riding. He looked casual, I was certainly casual, and I even said "hi". As soon as I go around him, this guy speeds up and rides right on my rear wheel. I would have guessed he was going around 15 mph and I was going around 18 mph, so it was not like I was inching past him. It was definitely a speed up for him. I kind of don't like this, so I speed up. He speeds up. Now we're both going 20+ and starting to work. This goes on for a few miles before he gets out of the saddle, speeds up again and passes me. About 50 feet in front of me, he turns around and looks at me like I'm Jan Ullrich and he's Lance Armstrong about to explode. (At least, that's what I'm sure is going on in his mind.) I continue my pace and we stay separated by the same distance. However, not more than a few minutes later, he pulls over in a parking lot and dismounts at his car.

So...all of those gyrations, and he pulls over 2 minutes after he "dropped me", or whatever he thought. I roll past him and can only shake my head thinking "WTF???"

Second time was yesterday on Mt. Diablo. I'm riding at a comfortable pace, when I roll up on a guy not going as fast. I casually say "hello" and move on. I've passed many a rider on the mountain, and been passed by many others. In either case, we say hi, or not, when a pass occurs, and move on. But for some reason, this guy tries to lift, and rides up along side me. Then he says nothing. He's just riding along side, saying nothing. Soon enough, I can hear his breathing start to labor, and soon drops off. Hard. In about two switchbacks, he's way back. I'm not trying to say I'm a baddass or whatever, but he obviously went too hard in an attempt to keep up, and then bonked. So, why would you do that?

In both cases, I'm just doing a ride, not hammering, not "showing off" or whatever. (Hell, I'm too slow to show off!) But I don't appreciate someone I DON'T KNOW riding on my wheel. To me, it's a safety thing. I don't know you, and you don't know me. You don't know how I ride to safely be that close to me. Last thing I want is to brake unexpectedly and have some guy with a hurt ego smash into me. I would have said something, but in both cases, the time was too short, not more than a few minutes. I'll admit that sometimes I will try to *pace* off of a rider in front of me, but I never ever ride up on someone I don't know. It's rude, and if you aren't invited, you should not be there.

Or am I wrong?
I wouldn't worry about it unless the guy does something squirrel or unsafe. Like knotty said, if he's on your wheel, he can only take himself out. In most situations having someone on your wheel actually helps you both aerodynamically.
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Old 08-19-10, 08:25 AM
  #9  
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If I pass someone, and they hop on my wheel, I'm fine with that. If they stay on my wheel, it would be nice if they got in front a bit. What bugs me is when somebody overtakes me, and instead of passing me, they get on my wheel. My thought is that if you're so friggin fast that you can catch up with me, then pass me.

There's also the issue of knowing whether or not the person is there.
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Old 08-19-10, 10:47 AM
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the perfect stranger latching on to a wheel or racing to pass you then blowing up is usually more entertainment/flattery than nuisance for me. but i did recently have an uncomfortable encounter with someone on kennedy rd.

while cresting the top i pass a guy who was going maybe half the speed i was (not that i was going fast by any measure) and offer the usual "howdy." coasting down the backside i notice he's right behind me on the first tight switchback. ok, too close, but no harm i guess. continue the descent at a normal pace and try to stay right in case he decides passing is a good idea. he does. right at the spot were a normal person would slow for the s-turn and upcoming stop sign. and in the process shoots into the oncoming lane, around the blind corner, and right through the stop sign at the bottom. this was apparently the finish line because he didn't seem to be in a big hurry to get down shannon.

class A d-baggery but pretty rare in my experience.
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Old 08-19-10, 10:50 AM
  #11  
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I mostly agree with what's been said. My one minor quibble is that I think it's okay to ask if you can draft someone (or a group) rather than wait for an invite. As a practical matter, it's probably better to ride with the person side-by-side and strike up a conversation and establish some sort of rapport first, both from a friendliness perspective and so you can both get a sense of each other's ability to hold a line and otherwise ride safely. And if the other person/group really does not want the company, that becomes apparent very quickly, one or the other of you rides off, and no harm done. I've been on all sides of this interaction many times over the years, and, with very few exceptions, the sitation sorts itself out just fine, one way or another, quickly and naturally.

I do understand the "silent competition" aspect, although what cthenn described is a bit silly. Sure, use someone up ahead as a target to chase down - but say "hello" when you catch up and/or pass. Stay with them or don't, but say "hi." Hell, say "hi" when someone passes you. Complement their bike or jersey if you like 'em. It costs nothing, and you just might make a new friend.

As for the two guys (and it's rarely women who are this dense) in the OP - well, they are among the very few exceptions noted above.
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Old 08-19-10, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by BlastRadius View Post
I wouldn't worry about it unless the guy does something squirrel or unsafe. Like knotty said, if he's on your wheel, he can only take himself out. In most situations having someone on your wheel actually helps you both aerodynamically.
this. life is easier when you don't project thoughts into other people's heads. If it's not dangerous, I wouldn't worry about it.
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Old 08-19-10, 10:55 AM
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This has been a pet-peeve of mine for a long time. Up here in Sac on the ARBT, because I'm a big guy and block a lot of wind, I seem to attract stranger cyclists who like to suck on my wheel for a spell until they get bored or whatever and then shoot past me. To me, you have to ask permission to ride on my wheel. I actually turned around and yelled at a guy once and told him, "You have to ask permission to ride on someone's wheel!" He replied that he'd never heard of that before and proceeded to zoom past me. Most of the time when it happens, I just slow down until they pass me.
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Old 08-19-10, 12:01 PM
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I'm on same page with Henry. If you are on a training ride - why should you care about a loser who doesn't want to work on his fitness and sits on your wheel? You are working on yours and the only thing for you are the things ahead (that doesn't mean that you should not be aware of your surroundings). If the guy goes nuts - drop him. If he is safe - forget about him (but signal _your_ moves). Simple as that.
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Old 08-19-10, 12:04 PM
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Maybe it's Mt Diablo.. The last time I rode it some guy in a squeaky hardtail starts riding my six on the way to the top. I'm only going a little bit faster than him so it's no big deal w/ him riding along. Then he starts...tailing...off. But, then he snaps out of it and catches back up to me, until the next set of turns, when he repeats the drop off. He does this 2 or 3 times more, and then the elastic snapped, as Phil Liggett would say. I would have to agree that perhaps it may be riders in various stages of experience who may yet be figuring out which end is up. As long as they don't cause a crash, it's tolerable.

If you want to be annoyed on a regular basis, try riding a tandem... Wheelsuckers left right and center, and it's a great day indeed when one of those leeches says "thanks for the pull."
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Old 08-19-10, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by BlastRadius View Post
I wouldn't worry about it unless the guy does something squirrel or unsafe. Like knotty said, if he's on your wheel, he can only take himself out. In most situations having someone on your wheel actually helps you both aerodynamically.
Not necessary true. Saw in Lodi crit a guy plowed in to a rider in the front and they both went down. I think the wheel got caught up in RD.
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Old 08-19-10, 05:46 PM
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Its pretty common. Just do your ride and pay it no mind. The other option is ride faster and faster till you drop everyone.
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Old 08-19-10, 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by bikingshearer View Post
Sure, use someone up ahead as a target to chase down - but say "hello" when you catch up and/or pass. Stay with them or don't, but say "hi." Hell, say "hi" when someone passes you. Complement their bike or jersey if you like 'em. It costs nothing, and you just might make a new friend.
yup. i've met lots of people by either being caught up to or catching up to someone else. about a month ago i was riding from boulder creek up the backside of 9 when a certain low key climber passed me in an electric hybrid. i immediately jumped on the wheel and tried my best to hold on. after about twenty minutes a gap was forming and i was nearly spent. he slowed to let me catch back on then we chatted for ten or twenty minutes on skyline. thanks again Bill!

Originally Posted by Boofage View Post
I actually turned around and yelled at a guy once and told him, "You have to ask permission to ride on someone's wheel!"
whoa. maybe you should have just asked him if he would buy you a drink first?
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Old 08-19-10, 09:05 PM
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This happens all the time on the tandem.

If the UW (unknown wheelsucker) doesn't engage in conversation, or at least ask to draft, we gradually pick up speed until we drop them, then we laugh at the silliness of someone thinking they could hang on the tandem.

If the UW is able to keep up, we'll pull off and let them take a pull. If they sprint off we shout obscenities as they disappear down the road. If they take a pull, however brief, we thank them and continue to take turns until we part company, or they fall off.

As a soll rider I don't draft anyone I don't know without asking permission, and if they seem squirrely I'll ride on by. If someone wants to work with me then I expect to share the work.

Those silent competitions make me laugh. It's not a race if they're the only ones riding as if it is.
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Old 08-19-10, 11:28 PM
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slowing my pace, changing direction, etc usually will get the person off my wheel, but recently on a recovery ride I could not get someone off. I started getting heated about it.. my leisurely recovery ride was being molested by Lance, only Alphonse wasn't there to send a finely hand written letter stating riding within a foot of someones wheel who is just rolling around isn't exactly kosher. Anyway, I sprinted off after slowing for a stop sign. It frustrated me a lot for failing to keep focused on my recovery and I told myself I would stay more focused next time. Oh well..
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Old 08-19-10, 11:51 PM
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I got 99 problems, but the person behind me ain't one of them.
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Old 08-20-10, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
I got 99 problems, but the person behind me ain't one of them.
+1.

I don't mind giving strangers a tow. I think it's fun... especially when I hear them breathing laboriously in my wake.
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Old 08-20-10, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by rydaddy View Post
+1.

I don't mind giving strangers a tow. I think it's fun... especially when I hear them breathing laboriously in my wake.
yeah. I don't mind either. Sometimes I work to catch people, find that they were going faster than I thought, so I recover by riding behind them for a minute. Sometimes it's not a good place to pass. Sometimes I'm lazy and just want to go faster, so I'll draft for a bit. So, if someone is behind me, unless they are squirrelly and half-wheeling me or something, it's no big deal. If I get tired, I slow down, and either they can pull or we can all go slower.

It's not always a contest.
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Old 08-20-10, 09:35 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
I got 99 problems, but the person behind me ain't one of them.
I've had an unknown to be drafter on the MUP that is my commute. I didn't know he was on my wheel. I saw a new section of trail that I wanted to try and I grabbed some brakes,

This guy hit me pretty hard, I rode it out on my frint wheel for a bit and he went down hard. At first he was pissed off at me. WTF? He didn't announce himself and assumed I knew he was there. I was at a good pace (20mph) and the wind noise and my ageing hearing I didn't know he was there.

Anyway, he was ok except for some pretty good road rash.

I also worry about the skills of some stranger 1" off my wheel.

I felt lucky that I got out of that one.
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Old 08-20-10, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by jeph View Post
I've had an unknown to be drafter on the MUP that is my commute. I didn't know he was on my wheel. I saw a new section of trail that I wanted to try and I grabbed some brakes,
to be argumentative: you were unaware of your surroundings and braked (hard) unexpectedly. Sure, guy was too close, but that's shared fault.

Anyway, see what I said about "not halfwheeling or being otherwise squirrelly". 1" is squirrelly.
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