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

Road Cycling “It 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.” -- Ernest Hemingway

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

Old 02-15-18, 04:05 PM
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hipsterfixie
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Road Etiquette Question: Hopping on a stranger's wheel?

So, you're be-bopping along solo on a well-known cycling route in your hometown, and you encounter another cyclist who's just a touch slower than you, but not so much slower that you can easily pass and leave him/her behind. Is it impolite to hook up to their wheel for any appreciable time?

It doesn't bother me personally to have someone hook up to my wheel--I just keep going and if they want to pass, fine, if they want to ride my wheel however long they want to, that's okay too. How do other cyclists feel about this? Should you hang back and keep your distance?

Thanks, guys. First post. Look forward to learning more on this forum.


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Old 02-15-18, 04:13 PM
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Don't draft off of people you don't trust. If you are faster, pass them.
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Old 02-15-18, 04:18 PM
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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 02-15-18, 04:19 PM
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My feeling is that you should hang back or pass. I know I don't like a stranger hopping on my wheel, and when it happens (and it does occasionally) I either slow down so they'll pass or I try to drop them on a climb. If neither works, I'll pull over and stop for a bit.
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Old 02-15-18, 04:40 PM
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If you can bunny-hop well enough to get atop a 700-c wheel while traveling at a solid cruising speed you need to doing trials, or stunt-riding or something.

I just kick the wheel ... i don't even try hopping on it.
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Old 02-15-18, 04:42 PM
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Hopping onto someone's wheel without their approval is like driving your car 2 feet behind the next car's bumper. If you're not engaging in a group ride or something where it's implicitly okay, then you don't know if it's okay... and even if they would be okay with it, there's a good chance they'll be unnerved by someone doing it without asking.

If you're desperate for a tow, ask.
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Old 02-15-18, 04:50 PM
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The bigger problem here is not whether it is ok with them or etiquette, but rather the fact that you are taking a huge risk on someone unknown for no particular gain whatsoever. I have done it a times to take a little breather for a few min and then pass. I also have almost crashed doing the same when the idiotic person I was just drafting decided to slam on the brakes because he saw someone ahead. There are all kinds of idiots driving and doing crazy stuff behind the wheel. Same goes for bikes!!
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Old 02-15-18, 04:53 PM
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Like everything else in this place, the correct answer is "it depends."

If you are friendly and ask permission, it could be ok to sit on someone's wheel. It could also be dooshy. All depends on the details.
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Old 02-15-18, 05:01 PM
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If road/trail traffic allows, why not pull up to the side of the person and talk to them for a few minutes. Then if you like each other, ask if you can take a breather drafting (or offer one to the person you encountered).
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Old 02-15-18, 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
If road/trail traffic allows, why not pull up to the side of the person and talk to them for a few minutes. Then if you like each other, ask if you can take a breather drafting (or offer one to the person you encountered).
^^ This.
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Old 02-15-18, 05:23 PM
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Emily Post did not cover this!
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Old 02-15-18, 05:24 PM
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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.
Hmmm. One of my crazy Alaska buddies (in the 90's) had some "tough guy" do this to him (snot rockets). My buddy got alongside, and the guy got violent, and hurled some homophopic/racist/sexist slurs. My buddy had no choice but to defend himself from this unwarranted violence and a potential hate crime. Thankfully my buddy came out on top, and stomped the guys rear derailleur after they guy crashed into a ditch, can you imagine this guy doing this again to somebody that was unable to defend themselves?
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Old 02-15-18, 05:40 PM
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Creeping up on a stranger is never polite. If you see riders ahead and are tempted to ride their wheel, pass first to say hello, and offer your own wheel for a minute. If they take yours, then they should let you take theirs.
If someone passes you and you want to ride their wheel, again, say hello as they go by. Personally, whether I grab their wheel or not depends on the nature of their response and how "pro" they are. As long as there are no aero bars involved, anyone in race-fit pro team kit is just asking for it. But if they are in club fit jersey or street clothes and aren't friendly, I let them go.
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Old 02-15-18, 06:05 PM
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Let's try a twist on the question.. someone passes you and then lets up on their speed once in front of you and you're stuck in the following position? Or, maybe doesn't slow down, but now you have a draft and you're easily now able to go that speed.. Happens..
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Old 02-15-18, 06:26 PM
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Feel free to hop on my wheel anytime. Nothing better than trading pulls with a complete stranger and never exchanging a word until the thanks at the end. It last happened two hours ago.
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Old 02-15-18, 06:39 PM
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If I catch a small group in front of me, I'll lag back a few bike lengths so I do not benefit from their draft. Its more of a personal pride thing. If I feel I can easily pass them and then increase my pace to put distance on them, I will opt for this. Seems rather petty to pass a group if you cannot maintain and increase your pace. I don't really care about the unwritten rules of recreational cycling. Sounds too much like baseball.
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Old 02-15-18, 06:43 PM
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Never okay.
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Old 02-15-18, 06:55 PM
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From the perspective of you doing it, don't, it is not polite.
From the perspective of it being done to you, they likely don't know, be polite and say hello.

that being said, I've been in pretty serious discussions and had the hanger-on jump in. I was not so kind and let them know it was rude.
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Old 02-15-18, 06:57 PM
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If some stranger were trying to suck my wheel I would feel extremely uncomfortable. I'd probably tell him if he wants a date with me he's going to have to hang out at the rest stop just like everyone else.
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Old 02-15-18, 07:03 PM
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Don't sit on another rider's wheel without permission.
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Old 02-15-18, 07:15 PM
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Exception would be if it is clearly a group ride of the open / public type (40+ riders)...ride up to someone in the rear and say "what is this ride?". It is likely a ride you are welcome to jump on to. And also the type of ride that they will try to drop and blow the group up, because that is how many group rides are.
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Old 02-15-18, 07:25 PM
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My rear hub is relatively loud. If I'm trying to hang back he'll hear me coasting on and off behind and hopefully gets the message to either slow down and let me pass, or speed up and drop me.

And if he doesn't get it, I could just lay down 400w and pass him while looking casual...
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Old 02-15-18, 07:41 PM
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It depends ...

I have no problem with another rider on my wheel if it is a temporary situation. For example, if they come up behind me and they're planning to make a turn within a couple hundred metres, there's probably no point to passing me and then making the turn ... unless they're really fast, of course. Or if there's lots of traffic or something and it is dangerous to pass, then I have no problem with them being back there.

But if a rider attaches him/herself to my wheel for longer periods of time ... that's just creepy and potentially dangerous.

Creepy because really, how many of us want someone in our space for long periods of time. Think how you'd feel if you were walking alone on a path and all of a sudden someone started walking right directly behind you. Maybe it wouldn't bother guys, but as a woman, I'd be completely freaked out by that.

Potentially dangerous because I forget to point out things to people behind me at the best of times! I may also suddenly stop to take a photo because I've seen something right there I want to capture on camera. At times, I spot side roads I want to explore and have been known to slow suddenly and turn. And if I'm climbing, all bets are off. There's a really good chance that if that hill gets a bit too steep for me, I'm off my bicycle and walking ... and there will be no warning. If you leave a gap of several metres between me and you, you'll be fine ... but if you're right there behind me, it's you who will be going down if you hit my rear wheel.
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Old 02-15-18, 07:42 PM
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Yes, until you pass.
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Old 02-15-18, 08:24 PM
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I'm big, I ride almost exclusively solo, so I can get a decent draft effect from about 4-5 bike lengths back. I never get closer to a stranger than that. Even at stoplights. I've no desire to exchange more than a head nod. Any rider I've "borrowed" a draft off of has been moving a good bit slower than I usually would, so I'm just taking the opportunity to rest until the guy in front of me tires out from trying to stay in front.
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