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Road Etiquette Question: Hopping on a stranger's wheel?

Road Cycling ďIt is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.Ē -- Ernest Hemingway

Road Etiquette Question: Hopping on a stranger's wheel?

Old 02-16-18, 12:51 PM
  #51  
Reynolds 
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Originally Posted by carbonfiberboy View Post
these threads are just nuts. I don't understand why they occur/re-occur. I've probably jumped on 100s of strangers' wheels. I announce "on your wheel" loud enough that they hear. Most riders don't even look around. They certainly don't do anything different from what they've been doing. Why should they? The danger's on me, not on them. If anything, they're a hair faster for my presence. Of course i don't get on the wheels of riders who aren't holding their speed or line. Why would i do that?

A line or rider goes by me maybe 1-2 mph faster than i'm holding solo and i'll accelerate onto the last wheel. If the line wants to only be them, then the last rider always drops back and lets the rotating rider in ahead of them, so i'm not an issue. If it's a collection of strangers, which is usually the case, the rotating rider drops in on my wheel. I'm going to complain?

Every now and again, i'll catch a rider ahead of me who's going just a hair slower than i. I'll announce and sit on their wheel for a while, to rest and check it out. If they seem competent, i'll go around and invite them to sit my wheel. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. Either way, no one is worse of than before.

Anyway, that's why these threads are always ridiculous. Just ride your bike and don't worry about it. Be nice and others will be nice back.
+10!
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Old 02-16-18, 01:01 PM
  #52  
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It really doesn't bother me one bit when someone does this to me. I don't care as long as they are not a psychopath or something. I will say this...if I am on another rider's back wheel and said a$$hat deliberately shoots a snot rocket at me, the least of his worries will be his back wheel
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Old 02-16-18, 05:20 PM
  #53  
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I never hop on anyone's wheel. Too dangerous. But if someone wants to take my wheel, that's OK.

You might come across someone who is very experienced. I recently came upon someone poking along at about 14mph (I was going about 18mph). He was wearing a mid-2000's pro team jersey, and I was wearing a different mid-2000's pro team jersey. I complimented him on his fashion choice, mentioned the 30mph wind gusts projected for the next day and how much fun it was going to be riding, and rode on, expecting to leave him behind.

He took my wheel, and not a bike length or more back, but just inches back. I put the hammer down (to about 22mph average - fast for me) and pulled for about three miles. From time to time I saw him drift left (I use a rear view mirror) to catch some wind and not run into me. When I couldn't keep up the pace any longer, I put my left hand out to indicate I was slowing. He came up alongside me - not feet away, but inches away - we chit-chatted for a bit, he thanked me for the pull, and then off he went while I recovered (which was fine - I enjoyed having a reason to "put the hammer down").

I'm dragging this out too long ... I'm thinking this guy WAS VERY EXPERIENCED. Inches behind a stranger, even riding just inches side-by-side. I'm sure he was watching my line at first to see how much I wandered, and decided I was "safe". I didn't pay any attention to his bike when I first came up behind him, but later noticed it was Pinarello of some sort, in well-maintained condition. Summary: I believe he was very experienced in paceline riding. I'm happy he "trusted" me based on my "keeping my line" - a boost to my ego.
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Old 02-16-18, 05:22 PM
  #54  
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Originally Posted by evan326 View Post
I stayed about 30-45 feet behind him till the path widened. Would you consider this riding someone's wheel?
If you have to ask....

Normally I would consider 30-45' as good as riding on another planet. But that's because I'm used to riding in the city, and as part of the "endless procession of Freds and Tri-dorks" that is 9W on weekends.
However, as you mention riding otherwise empty routes, the awareness of a "strange" presence is the issue then, not wheelsucking. I would say 30' is plenty as far as that goes. Still, the polite thing to do is approach decisively and pass; don't creep up. If you don't want to pass but you find yourself wondering whether you're being creepy, drop back, because, like I was saying, if you have to ask...

Last edited by kbarch; 02-16-18 at 05:27 PM.
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Old 02-16-18, 06:41 PM
  #55  
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I donít care. Just let me know youíre there if you are going to be close enough that I need to tell you Iím slowing or avoiding an obstacle. Itís a safety thing.

A bigger issue on MUPs in my area is the line of want to be pro Triathletes who donít want to loose the draft or slow so they almost crash head on to opposing riders and barely clear your front wheel when they cut back in. Fortunately this only happens in the first 15 miles.
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Old 02-16-18, 08:03 PM
  #56  
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Originally Posted by kbarch View Post
Not if the rider in front is a good rider. The rider in front has the BEST, most complete view of the road ahead and is in position to take the best, safest line. If you are off to the side, then chances are you aren't taking such a good, safe line. Besides, if you are trying to stay to the side rather than behind....
Good riders are as rare hens teeth here. (plenty of strong, fast riders, but not smooth)

I try to stay about a meter back and a meter off to the side, usually its an e-bike, as they pull a huge draft compared to most cyclists.

Last edited by SHBR; 02-16-18 at 09:49 PM.
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Old 02-17-18, 01:02 AM
  #57  
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Long ago I was a young strong rider in a place with many cyclists. The nearest hills were 25 miles away, so it was local custom to gladly form little pace lines with the many riders one encountered along the way. Sometimes one even ended up with a pro or two in the group, which was cool.

Now I'm old, slow, live right next to the hills and see almost no cyclists at all. If someone wants to hop on my wheel, that's fine by me and I'll do my best by them whether they ask or not. If I should happen to find someone whose wheel is worth hopping on to, I'll introduce myself and ask. No offense taken if the answer is no. This isn't serious business, it's just riding a bike. It's okay to have fun.
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Old 02-17-18, 02:18 AM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by kbarch View Post
If you have to ask....

Normally I would consider 30-45' as good as riding on another planet. But that's because I'm used to riding in the city, and as part of the "endless procession of Freds and Tri-dorks" that is 9W on weekends.
However, as you mention riding otherwise empty routes, the awareness of a "strange" presence is the issue then, not wheelsucking. I would say 30' is plenty as far as that goes. Still, the polite thing to do is approach decisively and pass; don't creep up. If you don't want to pass but you find yourself wondering whether you're being creepy, drop back, because, like I was saying, if you have to ask...
Thanks for the reassurance, I didn't think it should count. I just don't want to be one of those ignorant people out there!
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Old 02-17-18, 04:45 AM
  #59  
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Originally Posted by evan326 View Post
I stayed about 30-45 feet behind him till the path widend. Would you consider this riding someone's wheel?
30-45 feet is what? 10-12 metres? That's not 'on someone's wheel'!

We're talking about the people who are within 1 bike length ... or worse, within about 1 metre ... or even worse, the ones who are about a third of a metre back there. When you look in your mirror, and all you can see is the midsection of that person filling your mirror ... you can't even see their heads in your mirror, they are so close.
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Old 02-17-18, 06:39 AM
  #60  
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If someone can hold my wheel happy to have them there, because that means I will get a turn as well. Also, why not just chat with them and ride side by side if safe.
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Old 02-17-18, 06:46 AM
  #61  
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Originally Posted by cthenn View Post
Excellent topic, I don't think it's been discussed before.
It's always nice to cover new ground.
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Old 02-17-18, 11:00 AM
  #62  
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Originally Posted by Da Reef View Post
I don’t care. Just let me know you’re there if you are going to be close enough that I need to tell you I’m slowing or avoiding an obstacle. It’s a safety thing.

A bigger issue on MUPs in my area is the line of want to be pro Triathletes who don’t want to loose the draft or slow so they almost crash head on to opposing riders and barely clear your front wheel when they cut back in. Fortunately this only happens in the first 15 miles.
?

Most triathlons prohibit drafting, so triathletes rarely practice it. (Which leads to their reputation as poor bike handlers, but that’s the subject for another thread.).

Semi-relatedly, 10m is the buffer you are required to give in draft prohibited tris, so if you’re hanging out 35-40’ back, even the ITU says you’re not drafting.

Last edited by caloso; 02-17-18 at 11:06 AM.
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Old 02-17-18, 11:15 AM
  #63  
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
?

Most triathlons prohibit drafting, so triathletes rarely practice it. (Which leads to their reputation as poor bike handlers, but thatís the subject for another thread.).

Semi-relatedly, 10m is the buffer you are required to give in draft prohibited tris, so if youíre hanging out 35-40í back, even the ITU says youíre not drafting.
Perhaps he meant time trialists vs. triathletes. Just curious though on triathlons.. how is buffer distance enforced and measured, and/or how would they distinguish between someone trying to move up in position, vs. someone drafting?
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Old 02-17-18, 01:27 PM
  #64  
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
?

Most triathlons prohibit drafting, so triathletes rarely practice it. (Which leads to their reputation as poor bike handlers, but thatís the subject for another thread.).

Semi-relatedly, 10m is the buffer you are required to give in draft prohibited tris, so if youíre hanging out 35-40í back, even the ITU says youíre not drafting.
Yep, Which makes their behavior even more bizarre in addition to dangerous.
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Old 02-17-18, 01:43 PM
  #65  
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
Perhaps he meant time trialists vs. triathletes. Just curious though on triathlons.. how is buffer distance enforced and measured, and/or how would they distinguish between someone trying to move up in position, vs. someone drafting?
Based on complaints it's not enforced very well. Once you enter the draft 'zone' you have a specified time limit (15 S?) to exit the zone. Two or more people leapfrogging each other can gain a substantial advantage while still following the rules.
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Old 02-17-18, 01:52 PM
  #66  
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Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
Based on complaints it's not enforced very well. Once you enter the draft 'zone' you have a specified time limit (15 S?) to exit the zone. Two or more people leapfrogging each other can gain a substantial advantage while still following the rules.
15 seconds would seem not much time to close a 10 meter distance and pass whoever's in front of you --depending on how closely matched the riders are in strength. And yeah, a quickly rotating paceline would seem to get around the rules.
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Old 02-17-18, 02:08 PM
  #67  
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
15 seconds would seem not much time to close a 10 meter distance and pass whoever's in front of you --depending on how closely matched the riders are in strength. And yeah, a quickly rotating paceline would seem to get around the rules.
I think the box behind the rider is 2m wide, so you can just move to the left when passing.
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Old 02-17-18, 02:46 PM
  #68  
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Originally Posted by DiabloScott View Post
Somebody does this to me without an agreement and I get rather liberal with my spitting and snot rockets, and I don't call out road hazards, and I miss potholes by millimeters.
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Old 02-17-18, 03:14 PM
  #69  
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Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
I think the box behind the rider is 2m wide, so you can just move to the left when passing.
I know that in time trials you have to maintain 2m lateral separation if you're within 25 meters....
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Old 02-18-18, 12:36 AM
  #70  
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
FWIW, I don't mind if a stranger drafts me. As long as they're not on my wheel it's fine. Best to hang back a bike length until you get to know someone's style.

If we've ridden together before it's fine with me if they're on my wheel, even if we don't really know each other that well. If they feel confident enough to stick to my wheel, I'm doing okay -- I never think of myself as being strong and steady enough for anyone to actually want to follow closer than a full bike length.

On casual group rides I try to encourage folks to draft me if they're tired or out of shape. But they're usually not confident enough to try. I suppose we should discuss this stuff before the rides. Just tell folks if they're new or a little out of shape, just hang at the back and stay 2-3 bike lengths behind someone -- they'll still get some benefits of drafting without needing to be on red alert level focus.

But what I usually see is those riders will shift to the side, back into the wind, rather than take any advantage. Not sure whether they think they're being courteous, or just not confident enough and and prefer to see the road ahead themselves. I can understand that. On casual rides I avoid following anyone who seems to veer around erratically if they're not moving to avoid road hazards.
All this. Just be cool.

I couldn't care less whether someone sucks my wheel. If they want to ride it, the risk is on them. If I notice them back there, I'll focus more, and ride more straight and smooth, and I'll gladly flag holes and hazards for them as long as they want to ride back there. All that makes me a better rider. I'm a bigger than average guy, so I'm a good draft. And I'm ok with that. No need to be a d!ck. If I'm on my own ride, and they want to jump on, what's the big deal? Two people are faster than one, even if one is doing all he work, and I'm getting stronger by being in front. None of this Cat. 6 BS, I'm not racing anyone unless I've paid to do it (I'm way too old to get paid....)

I do tend to hang back a bit when coming up on another rider or when I've been passed, but it doesn't take more than a half a minute for me to tell whether they are a good wheel and what my comfort level will be. If they are smooth and straight, I'll always let them know I'm there, I'll get close and we'll work together. If he's doing his or her own thing, I'll give myself a cushion but take a little draft. I always thank them for the pull.

I do not follow a wheel of someone who's more into their earbuds than the road though. Earbuds are a clear and deliberate sign that that is not a good wheel.
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Old 02-18-18, 12:42 AM
  #71  
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While Iíd never considered it, if my earbuds act as a deterrent against people riding near me, awesome. But then again, if you have to rely on a draft to maintain your pace, youíre not catching up to me anyway.
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Old 02-18-18, 11:12 AM
  #72  
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just ask if he doesnt mind you ghost him
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Old 02-18-18, 11:35 AM
  #73  
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I don't like it when a stranger pulls up onto my wheel and I'll let them know it.
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Old 02-18-18, 04:14 PM
  #74  
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I don't mind as long as you tell me you are there. Same for passing. Let me know your are there. Last year I almost ran into a guy we'd passed but he came back up on my wheel without announcing. I was just about to move left to pass my son when this guy sped by, again without announcing. If I hadn't glanced to my left rear just before starting to pass I would have collided with him.

I let him know my displeasure.... he apologized when we met at the next crossing. I got the idea he was showing off for his girl friend.
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Old 02-18-18, 04:31 PM
  #75  
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I don't worry about someone trying to draft off of me, but that wasn't the question. I don't draft off strangers because I don't trust humans in general. I draft off my teammates, and even then I'm cautious.
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