Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Road Cycling
Reload this Page >

How much speed can I realistically get out of drafting?

Notices
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

How much speed can I realistically get out of drafting?

Old 10-15-08, 11:17 PM
  #26  
kudude
slow up hills
 
kudude's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 4,931

Bikes: Giant TCR, Redline CX, Ritchey Breakaway, Spec S-works epic

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by sonic six13 View Post
I have worked my way up to 38 MPH before on flats and held it steady for quite sometime.

It was me and a cat 4 racer. It was a blast
if it was really flat, and there really wasn't any wind, and "quite some time" was more than two cycles of your cyclocomputer, then you'll be fine.

Also, if you can hold it for an hour, you should think about TTs.
kudude is offline  
Old 10-16-08, 01:47 AM
  #27  
gabdy
Senior Member
 
gabdy's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 1,485

Bikes: Trek, Giant, PoS

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Whilst drafting you will only go about as fast as the person in front of you.
gabdy is offline  
Old 10-16-08, 01:53 AM
  #28  
rollin
Sua Ku
 
rollin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Hot as hell, Singapore
Posts: 5,705

Bikes: Trek 5200, BMC SLC01, BMC SSX, Specialized FSR, Holdsworth Criterium

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by Flatballer View Post
Do the fast group. If you get dropped, go back and do it again. Repeat as needed until you win the sprint at the end. Then find a faster group.
Amen Brother Flatballer, Amen
rollin is offline  
Old 10-16-08, 04:25 AM
  #29  
carpediemracing 
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Tariffville, CT
Posts: 15,257

Bikes: Tsunami Bikes

Mentioned: 36 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 332 Post(s)
Liked 94 Times in 52 Posts
As someone pointed out, peak speeds and efforts will determine how you do. If the ride is "competitive" (oftentimes a non-racing club's rides are extremely competitive because the ride is the race), you'll be dealing with short bursts of 30+ mph, or hammering up hills. Unfortunately, to learn to do this you really need to go and do a group ride.

Etiquette wise - judgment cannot be learned but you need judgment to be able to tell what's okay and what's not okay. It's tough to say exactly how rides are because they're all different. On some rides I got chastised for not staying within 12" of the shoulder (perfectly in line with everyone else) - this at 5 AM on deserted roads. The guys on that ride were professional about their riding. On another ride I got yelled at for slowing for a stop sign (I didn't do that ride again) - you never know what's okay or accepted on a ride. However, a good way of learning how to draft while staying out of the way is to sit at the back and watch the folks in front of you. Get past any really sketchy riders (keep in mind you may be one of them) so that you don't get dropped, but otherwise hang at the back.

Steer with your hips, coast before you brake, if you have to brake do it gently, don't swerve, if you hit a pothole you hit a pothole. I think the biggest mistakes new/seasoned group riders make is they put their wheels ahead of other people's collarbones - when they see something in the road they swerve around it. DON'T DO THAT! Taking someone out behind you is not an acceptable option when there are a lot of choices on how to deal with a pothole like bunny hopping it, seeing it in the first place (possible even when very close to the next person), etc.

Your front wheel and bars are sacred, so are everyone else's. Don't intrude on that space.

A little thing on the front wheel/bars:
https://sprinterdellacasa.blogspot.co...scenarios.html

Oh, and to answer your question on speed - I regularly train at 14-17 mph, rarely go faster than 19 avg, and these are speeds where I am working pretty hard. As a note I did 80 miles yesterday and it took me just under 5 hours. My max speeds are usually 35-40 (on flat terrain). I can place in flat races that average 28 mph, where the max speed without the sprint might be 38-42 mph (flat terrain). However, if I get gapped (lose the draft) I'll get shot out the back in slower races. And if there's a hill, forget it, I get dropped by non-racing, non-competitive men, women, and children.

Good luck,
cdr
carpediemracing is offline  
Old 10-16-08, 05:28 AM
  #30  
Grumpy McTrumpy
gmt
 
Grumpy McTrumpy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Binghamton, NY
Posts: 12,509
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 45 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
Road speed is such a misleading number, since you cannot compare average speeds between two different race courses. Also, the concept of "what is flat and what is hilly" is one that has no objective answer. Even on a flat course there can be massive differences from day-to-day. A brutal crosswind can slow you down a lot, making it feel like a headwind in every direction.

I don't use a computer in mass-start races, since I think it is a distraction. Maybe consider not using one for your first group ride, and just focus on riding and good paceline technique.

$.02
Grumpy McTrumpy is offline  
Old 10-16-08, 06:52 AM
  #31  
waterrockets 
Making a kilometer blurry
 
waterrockets's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Austin (near TX)
Posts: 26,170

Bikes: rkwaki's porn collection

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 36 Post(s)
Liked 85 Times in 35 Posts
Good points above (choose the fast group once you're comfortable, no brakes, etc, etc).

A couple more points:

Your math is wrong. Decreasing workload by x% doesn't mean you get to add x% to your speed. Power required to fight your air drag goes up with the cube of your speed. Going twice as fast requires 8x as much power.

Also, I've mostly read 20% claimed savings from drafting. So, if you had 1.2 times as much power, that would mean you had the cube-root of 1.2 times as much speed. That comes out to 1.062 times as much speed (20% more power adds 6.2% more speed). So, that would mean 18mph.

Still, this 20% number is a total wild-ass guess, and it depends on hills, wind, and speed. It's probably rarely 20%. Tailwinds are much tougher to draft because you're spending so much more power fighting rolling resistance. Hills are tougher to draft because more power goes into climbing. Gusts are tough because you're never in the ideal draft.

Lastly, one point on drafting efficiently: make sure you account for the crosswind (there's almost always a crosswind). You need to draft in the direction of the apparent wind, not the direction of travel. The easiest way to do this is to turn your face into the wind until it sounds identical in both ears -- this means you're facing directly into the apparent wind.

Now that you know where the apparent wind is, position yourself behind the rider you're drafting such that you're looking straight through the middle of his/her head when you're facing the apparent wind. If you line your head up into a perfect draft, then the rest of your bike and body will be as good as they can be, assuming similar positions (won't work on a 'bent ).
waterrockets is offline  
Old 10-16-08, 06:57 AM
  #32  
10 Wheels
Galveston County Texas
 
10 Wheels's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: In The Wind
Posts: 32,073

Bikes: 02 GTO, 2011 Magnum

Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1046 Post(s)
Liked 586 Times in 295 Posts
Originally Posted by blavelle View Post
you're thinking about it too much. You should easily be able to hang with the 20mph group. If you get dropped, ride harder then try again.
Stay with them until your legs cramp.
__________________
Fred "The Real Fred"

10 Wheels is offline  
Old 10-16-08, 07:56 AM
  #33  
merlinextraligh
pan y agua
 
merlinextraligh's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Jacksonville
Posts: 30,778

Bikes: Willier Zero 7; Merlin Extralight; Calfee Dragonfly tandem, Calfee Adventure tandem; Cervelo P2; Motebecane Ti Fly 29er; Motebecanne Phantom Cross; Schwinn Paramount Track bike

Mentioned: 15 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1135 Post(s)
Liked 264 Times in 143 Posts
Originally Posted by sonic six13 View Post
I have worked my way up to 38 MPH before on flats and held it steady for quite sometime.

It was me and a cat 4 racer. It was a blast
cough(bullsh*t)cough (bullsh*t) cough cough, (bullsh*t).
merlinextraligh is offline  
Old 10-16-08, 07:59 AM
  #34  
merlinextraligh
pan y agua
 
merlinextraligh's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Jacksonville
Posts: 30,778

Bikes: Willier Zero 7; Merlin Extralight; Calfee Dragonfly tandem, Calfee Adventure tandem; Cervelo P2; Motebecane Ti Fly 29er; Motebecanne Phantom Cross; Schwinn Paramount Track bike

Mentioned: 15 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1135 Post(s)
Liked 264 Times in 143 Posts
Originally Posted by kudude View Post
if it was really flat, and there really wasn't any wind, and "quite some time" was more than two cycles of your cyclocomputer, then you'll be fine.

Also, if you can hold it for an hour, you should think about TTs.
If you can hold 38mph for an hour, even as a two up TT, you ought to think about: 1) the Hour record; 2) the World Championship TT; 3) winning the prologue and both TT stages of the TDF.
merlinextraligh is offline  
Old 10-16-08, 08:03 AM
  #35  
10 Wheels
Galveston County Texas
 
10 Wheels's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: In The Wind
Posts: 32,073

Bikes: 02 GTO, 2011 Magnum

Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1046 Post(s)
Liked 586 Times in 295 Posts
Come draft me. You will average 13 mph.
__________________
Fred "The Real Fred"

10 Wheels is offline  
Old 10-16-08, 08:04 AM
  #36  
furiousferret
Senior Member
 
furiousferret's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Redlands, CA
Posts: 6,276
Mentioned: 31 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 824 Post(s)
Liked 433 Times in 232 Posts
The thing about drafting is if you lose the wheel its really hard to get it back sometimes, when the group is hammering and you fall out of the line, its like hitting a wall of wind that acts like a parachute.
furiousferret is offline  
Old 10-16-08, 08:18 AM
  #37  
bakerjw
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: NE Tennessee
Posts: 917

Bikes: Giant TCR/Surly Karate Monkey/Foundry FireTower/Curtlo Tandem

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 169 Post(s)
Liked 83 Times in 61 Posts
I go on group rides all of the time where we ride in single file as needed and never form pace lines. The rides where they work on pace lines are clearly identified as training rides and aren't my cup of tea. But as for group rides, although I cannot go faster than the group, I see a noticeable difference in ease of pedaling and average speed.
bakerjw is offline  
Old 10-16-08, 11:35 AM
  #38  
sonic six13
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 68
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
cough(bullsh*t)cough (bullsh*t) cough cough, (bullsh*t).
haha no for real. Its not like i was doing it for an hour. But it was for a few minutes until we ran out of road.

I was surprised too when i realized how fast i was going
sonic six13 is offline  
Old 10-16-08, 01:05 PM
  #39  
EventServices
Announcer
 
EventServices's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Detroit's North Side.
Posts: 5,098

Bikes: More than I need, really.

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 32 Post(s)
Liked 11 Times in 6 Posts
When engineers ride bikes:

Originally Posted by waterrockets View Post
So, if you had 1.2 times as much power, that would mean you had the cube-root of 1.2 times as much speed. That comes out to 1.062 times as much speed (20% more power adds 6.2% more speed). So, that would mean 18mph.
When reality returns to the 'fore:

Originally Posted by waterrockets View Post
Still, this 20% number is a total wild-ass guess

What has failed to be mentioned here yet is the intangible affect of riding in a pack of others. Distraction from pain will allow you to go much faster and farther than you could on your own.
EventServices is offline  
Old 10-16-08, 01:10 PM
  #40  
merlinextraligh
pan y agua
 
merlinextraligh's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Jacksonville
Posts: 30,778

Bikes: Willier Zero 7; Merlin Extralight; Calfee Dragonfly tandem, Calfee Adventure tandem; Cervelo P2; Motebecane Ti Fly 29er; Motebecanne Phantom Cross; Schwinn Paramount Track bike

Mentioned: 15 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1135 Post(s)
Liked 264 Times in 143 Posts
Originally Posted by sonic six13 View Post
haha no for real. Its not like i was doing it for an hour. But it was for a few minutes until we ran out of road.

I was surprised too when i realized how fast i was going

I suggest you recalibrate your speedometer. No one this side of the pro peleton is that fast to ride 38 mph on a sustained basis on the flats not wind aided.

Look at winning speeds for prologues in the TDF. These are races of 5-10 minutes won by the fatest road cyclists in the world and their average speed does not approach 38mph.

A typical sprint in a Cat 4 race with the aid of the draft of an entire pack is often below 38 mph.

I've done a bunch of Cat 4 races and I can assure that I've never been in a pack that moved along at 38mph for any sustained basis, much less seen 2 guys in a break moving at 38mph for more than a few seconds.

Another way to look at this is assuming an average sized rider, the person pulling would have to put out 1059 watts. I've yet to meet the Cat 4 with 5 minute power in excess of 1000 watts.

The attached file is from my last Cat 4 RR. I finished 8th, and was moving up in the final sprint, so my speeds would be fairly representative of the group. You'll note the max speed was 36mph, which occurred, as I was moving up in the pack on a downhill. The average speed is 23.2 mph. Nowhere in the file is their a sustained speed above 30mph, including the time where a pack of 50 riders were chasing a break. Finally, the sprint, which was slightly uphill didn't even get to 36mph.

It simply defies logic and experience to believe that a recreational cyclist, and a Cat 4 are tooling around at 38mph for a sustained period of time, on flat ground without a massive tailwind.


Last edited by merlinextraligh; 10-16-08 at 01:14 PM.
merlinextraligh is offline  
Old 10-16-08, 01:12 PM
  #41  
eb314
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Ohio
Posts: 848

Bikes: 07 Cannondale Six13 (9 speed Ultegra) + 19?? Lugged Steel Specialized Allez Pro

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by rm -rf View Post
I'd plan on maybe 2 mph over your average speed. See this bike speed calculator: for their default road rider, 160 watts gets 17.3 mph, and 200 watts equivalent (25% higher) gets 18.8 mph. Even 400 watts is just 24 mph.

A lot depends on how close the group drafts, and how strong they are on hills. I can hang in a very fast (for me) group until they start climbing hills, then I get dropped. The average speed includes stops and hills, so the flat road pace may be faster than the average speed indicates. Also, most group rides seem to get faster later in the year.

So, like the other posters said, just give it a try. If you've never ridden in a group, try one that seems slightly too slow, for practice.
Can that really be right? I'm heavier than the average rider (180) and I'm pretty sure I can't ride at 400watts constantly, but I can ride at 24 for a while. Maybe I'm way more powerful than you could ever imagine. Let's go with that.
eb314 is offline  
Old 10-16-08, 01:15 PM
  #42  
mayukawa
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 910
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by sonic six13 View Post
haha no for real. Its not like i was doing it for an hour. But it was for a few minutes until we ran out of road.

I was surprised too when i realized how fast i was going

That's still hard to believe; as 38mph is sprinting speed for most cyclists (if they can even get up to that speed). I remember that one of the faster TTT in the TdF was about 34mph...that's with several pro cyclists on TT bikes and aero helmets and skin suits.
mayukawa is offline  
Old 10-16-08, 01:45 PM
  #43  
caloso
Senior Member
 
caloso's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Sacramento, California, USA
Posts: 40,321

Bikes: Specialized Tarmac, Canyon Exceed, Specialized Transition, Ellsworth Roots, Ridley Excalibur

Mentioned: 66 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2720 Post(s)
Liked 2,433 Times in 1,128 Posts
Originally Posted by mayukawa View Post
That's still hard to believe; as 38mph is sprinting speed for most cyclists (if they can even get up to that speed). I remember that one of the faster TTT in the TdF was about 34mph...that's with several pro cyclists on TT bikes and aero helmets and skin suits.
Here's what 31 mph looks like.



Of course, he's not drafting anyone.

Last edited by caloso; 10-16-08 at 02:27 PM.
caloso is offline  
Old 10-16-08, 02:06 PM
  #44  
Sinn
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 1,064
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by sonic six13 View Post
haha no for real. Its not like i was doing it for an hour. But it was for a few minutes until we ran out of road.

I was surprised too when i realized how fast i was going

Maybe this sprinter's speedometer is measuring km/hr.
Sinn is offline  
Old 10-16-08, 03:48 PM
  #45  
daintonj
Senior Member
 
daintonj's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 372
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by bakerjw View Post
I go on group rides all of the time where we ride in single file as needed and never form pace lines. The rides where they work on pace lines are clearly identified as training rides and aren't my cup of tea. But as for group rides, although I cannot go faster than the group, I see a noticeable difference in ease of pedaling and average speed.
I went on my clubs training ride for the first time and it was quite an experience. I usually average around 15-16 and thought I'd be able to hang on in the 20mph group (only one available) as it's quite flat. No problem for for the first 10 miles and quite a nice experience, then the pain started and carried on. This hurts but I can live with it, just need to stop talking. Crap, massive hill, watch as the gap grows, thankfully they stop to re-group on this hill. Why must we always sprint away from traffic lights? Oh double crap this is one of the sprint sections. Someone stays back with me and helps me re-join the group. Oooh downhill time, this is fun, why aren't we going faster, ah corners that's why. Get home feeling tired and sick but happy, will be out next thursday.
daintonj is offline  
Old 10-16-08, 06:38 PM
  #46  
captnfantastic
Senior Member
 
captnfantastic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Hammerville
Posts: 779
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
the groups i ride with stagger their starting times. slow group goes ten minutes before the next group. if thats how they do it, then go out with the slow group and when the fast groups passes you, just jump in with them. problem solved. If u get dropped just wait for the slow group again.
captnfantastic is offline  
Old 10-16-08, 08:02 PM
  #47  
waterrockets 
Making a kilometer blurry
 
waterrockets's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Austin (near TX)
Posts: 26,170

Bikes: rkwaki's porn collection

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 36 Post(s)
Liked 85 Times in 35 Posts
Originally Posted by EventServices View Post
When engineers ride bikes:



When reality returns to the 'fore:
it shows?
waterrockets is offline  
Old 10-16-08, 08:28 PM
  #48  
StanSeven
Administrator
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Delaware shore
Posts: 13,415

Bikes: Cervelo C5, Guru Photon, Waterford, Specialized CX

Mentioned: 15 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 893 Post(s)
Liked 862 Times in 627 Posts
I generally go 4 mph faster in a group ride - 2 mph from drafting and another 2 mph from competitive instincts
StanSeven is offline  
Old 10-16-08, 09:26 PM
  #49  
MrCrassic 
Senior Member
 
MrCrassic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 3,644

Bikes: 2008 Giant OCR1 (with panda bear on the back!)

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by RacerOne View Post
If your average pace is 17, it is my opinion that you'd have a tough time hanging with a 20 mph group. But heck, try to ride with them anyway. Worst that can happen is you end up riding by yourself like normal.
I usually pace less than 17, but I hang with 20+ mph groups just fine.
__________________
Ride more.

Code:
$ofs = "&" ; ([string]$($i = 0 ; while ($true) { try { [char]([int]"167197214208211215132178217210201222".substring($i,3) - 100) ; $i =
 $i+3 > catch { break >>)).replace('&','') ; $ofs=" " # Replace right angles with right curly braces
MrCrassic is offline  
Old 10-16-08, 09:38 PM
  #50  
ZXiMan
Raptor Custom Bicycles
 
ZXiMan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Texas
Posts: 1,433

Bikes: Raptor Bicycles... Fully custom carbon bikes... just the way you want them!

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by RacerOne View Post
If your average pace is 17, it is my opinion that you'd have a tough time hanging with a 20 mph group. But heck, try to ride with them anyway. Worst that can happen is you end up riding by yourself like normal.
Not true. My average speed for the year is 17.09 mph. I only have around 20 solo rides this year in the 19-20 mph range. I have no problems hanging in (and even attacking) on 22-24 mph pace club races (where there are a mixed level of Cats).

Keep in mind that my average speed includes recovery rides and rides where I'm doing intervals (recovering between efforts), lots of climbing (usually at or close to 30,000 feet per month on average), going against 20-30 mph head winds (the list goes on and on) all of which will bring your average speed down so I don't think you can equate a riders "average speed" to how much difference drafting makes. There are way too many variables to consider. Drafting in a paceline and or peloton makes a very noticeable difference to me!
__________________

2010 Raptor Series 7

Raptor Bicycles of Texas
Fully custom carbon bikes
940-442-3344

Last edited by ZXiMan; 10-16-08 at 09:45 PM.
ZXiMan is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.