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

Drafting range...

Old 08-01-09, 02:40 AM
  #1  
Copter2
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Drafting range...

Hi.

I was wondering about recommended drafting range.

In many places they say it should be 1-2 feet (30cm-60cm) but I am usually highly concentrated within the peloton group and I think when I'm in 4-12 inch distance (with some offset according to wind ofcourse) I really put up less energy than within the 1-2 feet distance.

What do you guys think? How close the professional cyclists draft?

Thanks.
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Old 08-01-09, 02:44 AM
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Matt Gaunt
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Originally Posted by Copter2 View Post
Hi.

I was wondering about recommended drafting range.

In many places they say it should be 1-2 feet (30cm-60cm) but I am usually highly concentrated within the peloton group and I think when I'm in 4-12 inch distance (with some offset according to wind ofcourse) I really put up less energy than within the 1-2 feet distance.

What do you guys think? How close the professional cyclists draft?

Thanks.
Closer the better. In a peloton though, with the combined effect of lots of cyclists, the pull is greater than drafting a solo rider or a small paceline, so it's not as crucial to get right on someone's wheel.

Do what works for you.
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Old 08-01-09, 02:46 AM
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depends on the roads your on, the level of the riders you're with, and how well you know them.
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Old 08-01-09, 04:12 AM
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1"-2" works best
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Old 08-01-09, 04:20 AM
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Originally Posted by "Fred" View Post
1"-2" works best
depends on the roads your on, the level of the riders you're with, and how well you know them.
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Old 08-01-09, 05:28 AM
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Originally Posted by botto View Post
depends on the roads your on, the level of the riders you're with, and how well you know them.
Yeah, picking yourself up off of the street really cuts into your average speed.
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Old 08-01-09, 05:37 AM
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Don't draft strangers or riders who don't know what the F they are doing.
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Old 08-01-09, 05:41 AM
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trust is inversely proportional to range.

total stranger: +3m
new guy in the group: 1m
mr. cannot hold a straight line: 50cm
etc.
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Old 08-01-09, 05:54 AM
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OP - your feeling is correct, for drafting, being closer is better. This is especially true when speeds (on the flat roads) increase above 30 mph.

(On descents I tell people 10 feet for every 10 mph, but it's really like 5 feet for the first 20 mph, 5-8 feet for the next 20 mph, and maybe 30+ feet at 40-50+ mph. This is because, depending on the descent, it takes much longer to adjust speed downwards.)

However, if you touch wheels, panic, and crash, it's not worth very much.

- practice (with a friend or two, on grass, wearing lots of safety gear) touching your front wheel to their rear wheel and recovering from it. I've read that you have to "bounce off" the wheel, but really what you do it pause your bike a bit by pulling it back (i.e. your body goes forward, the bike goes backwards) until you can clear the front. Or, if you're comfy on the bike, you can kind of lean into the tire and wait for the forward bike to clear your tire. I find the latter happens automatically if I don't do the former.

This ability to recover from touching a wheel allows you to draft much closer to the next rider. I've hit various rider's cassettes, rear axles (on the left side), skimmed their rear derailleur cable, etc etc. A couple times I've slammed into them so hard my rear tire lifted off the ground (dog jumped out in front of us and guy in front of me was scared of dogs, panic braking for no reason in a large group).

At a more advanced level, Lemond accidentally on purpose took out a motorcycle turn signal (he was goofing around on camera, touching the motorbike, and took out the signal light - then apologized and tried to pop it back into place, all while riding in the middle of the field during the Tour Du Pont or Tour de Trump).

- practice riding close when you have an out, i.e. when you have a way to recover if the rider in front freaks out and does something weird. Usually for me this means riding to the right of the rider when there is no curb next to the road - if the rider in front freaks out, I can always go grass surfing. The left side isn't good because you may end up a hood ornament if you bail out to the left. At the very least you end up in other riders' lines.

This latter practice method works regardless of who you're riding with. You can get even closer by overlapping wheels, which is reasonable only if you feel comfortable touching wheels and you have a safe "out".

I pointed this out to another rider on a group ride who questioned how close I was riding (actually the two guys behind me were "talking" really loud and pointing out how the doofus in front of them - me - was riding too close and had too much testosterone and would take himself out because he was way overlapped).

It seemed apparent to me that he was intimidated by riding too close to the riders around him, and I said that practicing riding close is not a testosterone thing, it's simply practicing under semi-controlled situations. I could ride to the right of the rider in front of me, put my tire by his derailleur cable (I zinged it while demonstrating), and if the rider did anything weird, I could always swerve right and go grass surfing.

The guy I was following:
A - had no idea I was so close
B - is someone I don't know
C - rode a reasonable line but wasn't rock solid

We were also on a relatively quiet road, so I felt like I could focus on that and not on, say, all the driveways and intersections in the next 100 meters.

I would not draft just any person that closely, but someone that is on a ride with you, started with you, and understands that you're riding with them, that person's fair game. So don't sit on Grandma's wheel while she's toodling to the store to pick up the paper, she may freak out when someone ends up an inch off her wheel.

This practice and alertness and all that helps when riding in larger groups with riders you don't know, like those huge group rides with 50-150 riders, or races, or even the charity rides where there are riders of all levels all over the place.

I recently rediscovered some aspects on the idea of drafting:
http://sprinterdellacasa.blogspot.co...ting-note.html

hope this helps,
cdr
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Old 08-01-09, 05:58 AM
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Rode with a different group Thursday for the first time... No way in heck I was getting close to 7 guys I'd never ridden with. Solved the problem by pulling more than normal I'll bet I never got closer than a foot when falling back... had to work a little harder but felt WAY safer. Towards the end of the ride it did tighten up since they all had decent experience/skill on the bike.
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Old 08-01-09, 06:05 AM
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+1 on all replies.
I use to do (and train for) AT&T 3 man time trials in Princeton NJ. The 3 of us knew each other very very well, we could anticipate individuality and form within a micro-second of racing or training.
1-2" was not unheard of at 23-25 mph+.

I ride alone alot and had a guy struggle to catch up with me (I'm not great) and ride my tail. I would hear him gasping and strugglin.
I would pull out and gently yell at him; "Listen dude, I don't know you and you surely don't know me. If you are going to ride my wheel, fu&#in tell me".

So I can sprint away from you so I don't crash
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Old 08-01-09, 06:22 AM
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Originally Posted by botto View Post
depends on the roads your on, the level of the riders you're with, and how well you know them.
yup well said. I can draft 3" with a few people because I know they are predictable and smooth. Others 6" since they are pretty predicable and relatively smooth. At least a foot for those unpredictable and not so smooth, and there are some riders I will refuse to ride behind
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Old 08-01-09, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by estabro View Post
Don't draft strangers or riders who don't know what the F they are doing.
Good advice but not practical if you're part of a large club that has new riders show up each week. I try and size up the squirrels but inevitably end up behind one.
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Old 08-01-09, 09:11 AM
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Someone posted an instructional video here. It included a demonstration of how to bounce off when your wheel touches that of the front rider. Maybe someone less lazy than I can find it.

I want to practice this, but don't want to fall trying it. Has anyone fallen which practicing it?
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Old 08-01-09, 01:07 PM
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panic is what causes you to fall when you touch wheels. Keep your cool, and slow a little. Don't swerve out of the way, or the pack will run over you, and then they'll yell at you, and you'll deserve it.
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Old 08-01-09, 02:32 PM
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A foot or so is safe for all around group riding on open roads.
Don't go by the pro's. They are in a very different league and if you watched any of the Tour you would have seen the crashes...they aren't much better, in large packs, than we are they just go faster.
If you look through the bike in front of you, you can see almost as much as he/she can...perhaps more if they don't pay much attention...and can open/close the gap, etc. more easily.
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Old 08-01-09, 06:22 PM
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Personally, the size of the rider in front of me is more important than the following distance. 1-2" doesn't mean squat when some showboating junior who weighs 100 lb dripping wet moves in front of you.
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