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Etiquette for “impromptu” drafting

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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

Etiquette for “impromptu” drafting

Old 07-19-20, 06:09 PM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by GlennR View Post
The drafting gave me enough of a rest that my legs were fresh and I picked up the pace.
So the pace was fine while he was doing the work, but when it came time to do your share suddenly it was too slow and you had to pick it up even if it meant he got dropped. Nice.
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Old 07-19-20, 06:17 PM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
In the situation you describe, each cyclist should pull for exactly 1m47s.
Finally an answer with some precision!!

end of thread
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Old 07-19-20, 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
So the pace was fine while he was doing the work, but when it came time to do your share suddenly it was too slow and you had to pick it up even if it meant he got dropped. Nice.
It cost him nothing having me draft.

And he told me he picked up the pace when he saw me on his wheel. But he didn't understand drafting and just didn't stay close enough to get any benefit.

if you don't like it being done to you, either drop the hammer... if you can, or wave the rider around. Doing neither leaves you with nothing to complain about.

The only reason I see to be annoyed at someone drafting is they are too close and it makes you feel unsafe. If so, wave them around.
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Old 07-19-20, 06:25 PM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by gear64 View Post
I once had a roller blader ask to draft, that guy held IIRC, 18 mph for a hell of a lot longer than I would have thought possible. He caught back up at the next light crossing and thanked me profusely.
This is awesome, skater must have had some legs. Switching leaders in a pace line is kind of like switching forward/midfield lines in hockey/lacrosse.
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Old 07-19-20, 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by GlennR View Post
It cost him nothing having me draft.
If you don’t think there’s a cost of having someone on your wheel (in terms of all the extra things you have to concentrate on, safe line, avoiding hazards, steady pace, etc.) then you really don’t understand riding with other people.

People on my wheel don’t annoy me. It bothers when people take advantage of others.
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Old 07-19-20, 07:05 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
If you don’t think there’s a cost of having someone on your wheel (in terms of all the extra things you have to concentrate on, safe line, avoiding hazards, steady pace, etc.) then you really don’t understand riding with other people.

People on my wheel don’t annoy me. It bothers when people take advantage of others.
Being at least 1 or more bike lengths back on a 8' wide MUP with no other traffic is the perfect place. No hazards to avoid and it's very simple... don't look back.

Now on a public road with debris, potholes, cars, turns and pedestrians is a different story.

If you're uncomfortable with someone behinds you.. wave them around. How do you deal with people behind you when driving?
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Old 07-19-20, 07:08 PM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by GlennR View Post
I caught up to a guy and decided to draft for a stretch.

We talked for a few and he didn't fully understand how drafting saves energy. After explaining he said he'll definitely try it next time.
You're comfortable drafting someone like this?
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Old 07-19-20, 07:15 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
You're comfortable drafting someone like this?
A bike length or more back on a empty MUP 12' wide on flat ground and straight as an arrow. Yes, I felt safe, if I didn't I wouldn't do it.

Also wind was coming from 2:00 so I was slightly to his left and had a clear view.
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Old 07-19-20, 07:23 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by GlennR View Post
It cost him nothing having me draft.
.
He actually save about 3% by having you draft behind him. You would have disrupted the slight vacuum he created behind him. You both benefited. And that's the great thing about drafting.

As far as etiquette goes, as long as the person you're drafting is okay with it, and you find out by asking, then it's fine.

We had a situation yesterday where my guys (eight of us) were in a line moving at a decent clip on a road that's used by lots of cyclists, some slow some fast. We passed a whole bunch of groups as well as solo riders. At some point during a long stretch between lights I noticed that there were only 5 of us, plus some other guy. Apparently, as I found out later on, he cut into our line in front of three of our riders. I'd have said something right away, if I'd noticed it right away, but by this time 3 of our group had dropped back. Anyway, the dude stayed on our wheel for another couple of km before we hit a light.

Personally, I don't want some random stranger tagging on to our group ride. I don't know the dude, and so I don't trust him. I don't want to ride with someone I don't trust. Period.

Those of you who are comfortable with drafting random strangers, you're kind of playing with fire. Saving a few watts isn't worth the risk in this case.
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Old 07-19-20, 07:28 PM
  #35  
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I agree if you have a pace line then you should ask or drop off.

The rules change by the situation.
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Old 07-19-20, 07:30 PM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by mcours2006 View Post
He actually save about 3% by having you draft behind him.
Not if the second rider is one bike length behind.
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Old 07-19-20, 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
Not if the second rider is one bike length behind.
True. Then one should negotiate that if you're going to draft you must stay minimum one wheel length. Otherwise, forget it.
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Old 07-19-20, 07:51 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by mcours2006 View Post
True. Then one should negotiate that if you're going to draft you must stay minimum one wheel length. Otherwise, forget it.
I see the future of cycling: Your drafting preferences / requirements are stored in your bike computer. Whenever you get within a few bike lengths of another rider, your computer connects to the other rider's computer and determines if you are "compatible" drafting partners, and sets the parameters of the draft arrangement.
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Old 07-19-20, 09:35 PM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
I see the future of cycling: Your drafting preferences / requirements are stored in your bike computer. Whenever you get within a few bike lengths of another rider, your computer connects to the other rider's computer and determines if you are "compatible" drafting partners, and sets the parameters of the draft arrangement.
Swipe right or left on your Garmin.
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Old 07-20-20, 06:14 AM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
I see the future of cycling: Your drafting preferences / requirements are stored in your bike computer. Whenever you get within a few bike lengths of another rider, your computer connects to the other rider's computer and determines if you are "compatible" drafting partners, and sets the parameters of the draft arrangement.
This drafting thing is really a sticky subject on this forum. With some experience you can pick out riders who are steady wheels. All these rules and etiquette crap will be second nature. The above quote is what I do instantaneously when I ride in a group. Body type, riding position, pedaling smoothness, gear selection, I see it and determine who are the good wheels to follow and who to distance from.
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Old 07-20-20, 08:49 AM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
My problem is not the etiquette for impromptu drafting, but rather rolling up on someone on a downhill, or the flat, and KNOWING that rider will smoke me on the hill just up ahead. It seems rude to pass someone only to make them pass me again only quarter or half a mile later. But I also hate braking before a hill though I usually end up doing it. AND I stay far enough off their wheel, and to one side, so I'm not drafting at all. So, I hang out behind them, not drafting, often freewheeling, till we reach the base of the hill where they'll drop me.

I imagine it's annoying, grinding along and hearing someone freewheeling behind you, but I can't help being fat and having good hubs!
And then there are the fools who pass a tandem near the top of a hill. For those folks I do drope the hammer as we go over, and hope to never see them again. I don't mind draftees, but I dislike riding near idiots. We were once riding our tandem with a good friend, a very strong rider many years younger. We went of the top of a pass and told him to get on NOW but, overconfident, he didn't. Last time we saw him, he was about 15' behind us. Actually, at the bottom of the steep part of the pass we waited several minutes for him and then traded leads the rest of the way down.
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Old 07-20-20, 09:01 AM
  #42  
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Yeah, as noted by others, the big thing missing in OPs description is communication. If some silent guy tried to work with me I'd be a tad annoyed, but if the guy talked a bit and made their intentions clear, and also noted how far they wanted to go then it's much better.
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Old 07-20-20, 09:12 AM
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Don’t accelerate off the front. Keep a steady pace. This is a common newbie mistake.
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Old 07-20-20, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by mcours2006 View Post
He actually save about 3% by having you draft behind him. You would have disrupted the slight vacuum he created behind him. You both benefited. And that's the great thing about drafting.

As far as etiquette goes, as long as the person you're drafting is okay with it, and you find out by asking, then it's fine.

We had a situation yesterday where my guys (eight of us) were in a line moving at a decent clip on a road that's used by lots of cyclists, some slow some fast. We passed a whole bunch of groups as well as solo riders. At some point during a long stretch between lights I noticed that there were only 5 of us, plus some other guy. Apparently, as I found out later on, he cut into our line in front of three of our riders. I'd have said something right away, if I'd noticed it right away, but by this time 3 of our group had dropped back. Anyway, the dude stayed on our wheel for another couple of km before we hit a light.

Personally, I don't want some random stranger tagging on to our group ride. I don't know the dude, and so I don't trust him. I don't want to ride with someone I don't trust. Period.

Those of you who are comfortable with drafting random strangers, you're kind of playing with fire. Saving a few watts isn't worth the risk in this case.
I would hope someone tagging onto a group ride would introduce themselves.

But it doesn’t take long watching someone ride to determine if they’re worth drafting or not. If they’re riding at about the same speed as me, they’re more than likely of a certain level of cycling competence (I’m no elite racer, but at the same time complete noobs don’t roll along at 18-20 mph) and there are always tell-tale signs to spot the loose cannons.


I was on a century ride once and there was a tandem riding close to our group. The captain was obviously unfamiliar with his vessel, as they couldn’t hold a straight line. But we couldn’t drop them, and they wouldn’t take a hint and pull ahead. We were getting to the point of telling them to give our group space, when they had a loud blowout. “Sorry everyone, you won’t have our draft now” he said, as we all kept rolling and chatting about the bullet we had collectively dodged.
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Old 07-21-20, 05:51 AM
  #45  
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A few weeks ago I was in a small pre-organised group doing specific time trial training over a 100km route. On a long downhill section we picked up a hitchhiker we overtook who quickly inserted himself into our group of 6 without intro and then didn't work, which is fine in itself, but he also didn't allow anyone to move ahead of him; he stuck doggedly on the wheel ahead of him and so disrupted the rotation.

We worked around this rude individual, obviously, but he kept with us for a good 5km or so before he ran out of gas and allowed a gap to form that myself and 3 others in our group had to sprint across to rejoin our friends. All in all, not a train smash but highlights that impromptu tagging along can disrupt a training ride where you are unwanted and unwelcome.

Happily, this sorta thing is rare.
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Old 07-21-20, 06:46 AM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by AlgarveCycling View Post
Happily, this sorta thing is rare.
Time to practice taking out the trash.
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Old 07-21-20, 07:07 AM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by big chainring View Post
This drafting thing is really a sticky subject on this forum. With some experience you can pick out riders who are steady wheels. All these rules and etiquette crap will be second nature. The above quote is what I do instantaneously when I ride in a group. Body type, riding position, pedaling smoothness, gear selection, I see it and determine who are the good wheels to follow and who to distance from.
I used to go in a lot of group rides however when pushing too hard some riders starts to lose a steady wheel and there was 3 major crashes in that group when I was not there.

Nowadays I just ride with friends who have steady wheels
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Old 07-21-20, 09:55 AM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by AlgarveCycling View Post
A few weeks ago I was in a small pre-organised group doing specific time trial training over a 100km route. On a long downhill section we picked up a hitchhiker we overtook who quickly inserted himself into our group of 6 without intro and then didn't work, which is fine in itself, but he also didn't allow anyone to move ahead of him; he stuck doggedly on the wheel ahead of him and so disrupted the rotation.

We worked around this rude individual, obviously, but he kept with us for a good 5km or so before he ran out of gas and allowed a gap to form that myself and 3 others in our group had to sprint across to rejoin our friends. All in all, not a train smash but highlights that impromptu tagging along can disrupt a training ride where you are unwanted and unwelcome.

Happily, this sorta thing is rare.
The way to cure this situation is for a strong rider to rotate to the back (in front of the hitchhiker) and allow a gap to form intentionally. If the group is going hard enough, a few meters is sufficient. Then a couple of hard pedal strokes drops the hitchhiker and rejoins the group.
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Old 07-21-20, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by AlgarveCycling View Post
A few weeks ago I was in a small pre-organised group doing specific time trial training over a 100km route. On a long downhill section we picked up a hitchhiker we overtook who quickly inserted himself into our group of 6 without intro and then didn't work, which is fine in itself, but he also didn't allow anyone to move ahead of him; he stuck doggedly on the wheel ahead of him and so disrupted the rotation.

We worked around this rude individual, obviously, but he kept with us for a good 5km or so before he ran out of gas and allowed a gap to form that myself and 3 others in our group had to sprint across to rejoin our friends. All in all, not a train smash but highlights that impromptu tagging along can disrupt a training ride where you are unwanted and unwelcome.

Happily, this sorta thing is rare.
I have done that a couple of times for a while. It is really fun to go fast behind a well-organized team. However, what I did was to drop back 1-1/2 bike lengths as the rotating rider came back, repeating for each rider. I picked that up from a local group who always do a paceline, their riders only. They station a rider at the rear who does what I did, preventing "hitchhikers" from joining the group. The lazy rider at the rear changes every so many rotations or it can be just the group's weakest or most tired rider. Works like a charm. Try that next time. No one complained to me me, BTW. I think they liked it that I protected their team.
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Old 07-21-20, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
I have done that a couple of times for a while. It is really fun to go fast behind a well-organized team. However, what I did was to drop back 1-1/2 bike lengths as the rotating rider came back, repeating for each rider. I picked that up from a local group who always do a paceline, their riders only. They station a rider at the rear who does what I did, preventing "hitchhikers" from joining the group. The lazy rider at the rear changes every so many rotations or it can be just the group's weakest or most tired rider. Works like a charm. Try that next time. No one complained to me me, BTW. I think they liked it that I protected their team.
The club I rode with back in the early Aughts generally had a few folks hanging out at the back who stayed there and would slip back to let the former lead pair get back in ahead of them . They run a double paceline, but not the rotating kind - lead pair pulls off and drops back to the end. I don't know whether this was intended to keep less experienced riders out of the rotation, but it worked out that way.
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