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Aggressive group ride etiquette?

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Aggressive group ride etiquette?

Old 09-12-10, 08:48 PM
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W Cole
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Aggressive group ride etiquette?

I've been doing some fairly aggressive group rides here in Irvine, CA there are always some CAT 1/2 guys and fairly often you will see a domestic pro or two. But there are also lots of slow(er) Cat 5 riders such as myself. The peloton is huge (30-100 people) and not organized at all (typically the fast guys just tow us around) there is no paceline - the peloton is very similar to some of the crits that I have done.

Typically we ride in a huge pack maybe three people wide so there will be 3 people in front of me, I will be on one of their wheels and then 2 people next to me will be on the other 2 wheels. Say I'm on the far left and the pack slows a bit, I will stagger myself slightly left (2-3") to "grab" some wind and slow down (never overlapping the wheel in front of me). At which point a lot of times someone will jam themselves between me and the person to my right and attempt to "push" me left and take the wheel I have been drafting. But sometimes I will just be following the wheel in front of me and people will try to take it away from me.

Also, many times someone will jam between me and the person next to me even if there isnt a wheel in front of them to follow and there really isn't enough space for them to fit there. This happened twice to me today, one time I braked, and almost clipped the guys rear wheel with my front as I was moving backwards and he was swerving into me.

Is this normal behavior? Do I just need to be more aggressive? I find that if I "lean into" them and not move at all they tend to back off. But since this is a group ride I am not really prone to being this aggressive.

Last edited by W Cole; 09-12-10 at 08:53 PM.
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Old 09-12-10, 08:50 PM
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stick a stick in their spoke. teach em.


honestly though it sounds more like a race than a group ride lol. Then again i'm not sure how personally you guys know each other 100 people and you probably don't know all their names. People are way more sensitive when they know you by name
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Old 09-12-10, 08:57 PM
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Needs more yelling.
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Old 09-12-10, 08:58 PM
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Originally Posted by zstjohn View Post
stick a stick in their spoke. teach em.


honestly though it sounds more like a race than a group ride lol. Then again i'm not sure how personally you guys know each other 100 people and you probably don't know all their names. People are way more sensitive when they know you by name
No one knows each other at all lol. Sometimes I see guys ride next to each other and talk but they are usually on the same team. I only have introduced myself to a couple other people and occasionally chat with them while riding but have prompty forgotten their names.

I forgot to say that sometimes I may ride an inch or two left or right of the wheel in front of me so I can see hazards (red lights, debris, slower riders from different groups, runners, etc.). Is this wrong to do? When I do this people also lean into me and take my wheel.

Last edited by W Cole; 09-12-10 at 09:02 PM.
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Old 09-12-10, 09:07 PM
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Originally Posted by W Cole View Post
I've been doing some fairly aggressive group rides here in Irvine, CA there are always some CAT 1/2 guys and fairly often you will see a domestic pro or two. But there are also lots of slow(er) Cat 5 riders such as myself. The peloton is huge (30-100 people) and not organized at all (typically the fast guys just tow us around) there is no paceline - the peloton is very similar to some of the crits that I have done.

Typically we ride in a huge pack maybe three people wide so there will be 3 people in front of me, I will be on one of their wheels and then 2 people next to me will be on the other 2 wheels. Say I'm on the far left and the pack slows a bit, I will stagger myself slightly left (2-3") to "grab" some wind and slow down (never overlapping the wheel in front of me). At which point a lot of times someone will jam themselves between me and the person to my right and attempt to "push" me left and take the wheel I have been drafting. But sometimes I will just be following the wheel in front of me and people will try to take it away from me.

Also, many times someone will jam between me and the person next to me even if there isnt a wheel in front of them to follow and there really isn't enough space for them to fit there. This happened twice to me today, one time I braked, and almost clipped the guys rear wheel with my front as I was moving backwards and he was swerving into me.

Is this normal behavior? Do I just need to be more aggressive? I find that if I "lean into" them and not move at all they tend to back off. But since this is a group ride I am not really prone to being this aggressive.
sounds like a recipe for disaster. being slow ain't the issue: knowing how to handle bikes in large crowd is. there's a good reason why cat 5 races are capped at 50 people, and that's for a closed course. the way i look at it, it's just not worth it to go hammer & get injured on a group ride merely to contest for a town-line sprint.
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Old 09-12-10, 09:13 PM
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The first rule of fight club is...
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Old 09-12-10, 09:19 PM
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Get out of there while you can.

Find a group to ride with that knows each other, ride with them, and develop a friendship with them. That's half the fun in a group ride.
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Old 09-12-10, 09:20 PM
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Also, today I saw some guy who was part of our ride decide to go down the sidewalk at atleast 25mph on deep dish carbon tubs and where the sidewalk dipped down a little he used it to jump/bunny hop at least 2-3' into the air before rejoining the peloton. That seemed a little sketchy to me.
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Old 09-12-10, 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by W Cole View Post
Is this normal behavior? Do I just need to be more aggressive?
Yes it's normal behavior. No, you don't have to be more aggressive. Just ride smart. One of the dumbest riders on the Nyack Ride I've been doing for 20 years is one of the fastest, a Cat 1. He is however utterly skullfarked. He'll try to move up between me and the curb when there is barely enough room for him to squeeze through, @ 30mph, for no apparent reason. He may be fast, but he is a moron. Intelligence level is not linked to bicycle racing ability. Some of the fastest guys are among the dumbest.

So use your common sense, don't ride stupid, and stay away from the morons that do, whether they are a Cat 5 or a pro.
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Old 09-12-10, 09:32 PM
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People get competitive. i wouldn't ride there, but I'm 57. When I was young, it might have been fun. But i played football, and got into a lot of fights when I was a kid/teenager. If you feel crowded, either bump em off (or try), or let em take your spot. Your choice. There is no right answer, but "uncivil" behavior happens, and only you can figure out how to respond to it.
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Old 09-12-10, 09:42 PM
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OP, seems like you're thinking pretty well about the situation. Basically if someone is doing something a bit aggressive, it's okay to respond with the same.

Well, within reason - once it escalates too much then it's just plain ugly. Personally I think contact is never warranted unless it's necessary to stay upright, i.e. guy to your right leans on you because the guy to his right is falling onto him.

I also think you're doing the wrong thing with slowing using wind. I "discovered" this technique. First time I used it in a race I almost got shot off the back of the single file field. A newly-made friend let a gap go and yelled at me to get in. Eventually I got dropped anyway and afterward he told me to do that stuff on training rides only.

https://sprinterdellacasa.blogspot.co...l-ruhlman.html

Sliding a bit sideways is smart, it's efficient, and it totally opens the door for others. Even if you only move over a bit, unless you were less than, say, a foot from the rider next to you, it may be enough to fully open the door. In other words, unless you're rubbing elbows the whole ride (or, like one ex-pro did to me, casually, without thinking, while he was talking about breakfast and traffic and stuff, have his elbow almost touching my belly button), you may be relatively far away. You may not think so, but other riders will.

I consider 3 feet to be an opening for sure. 2 feet is tight - I wouldn't take it except when desperate. On the side of the road it's closer - I'll take gaps where I have to surge and then coast through the gap because if I pedal I'll hit the curb with the pedal. So maybe a foot to the curb from the other rider (which means half my bike fits in that foot, or, if it were in the middle of the road, it's a 2 foot gap).

But it's a group ride. So I'd just back off unless something interesting was coming up (sprint etc).

One situation that would prompt me to move up is if I don't feel comfortable following a particular rider in front of me. So, if you're a Cat 5, and you ride like a normal Cat 4-5, there may be more experienced riders that don't feel comfortable following you or someone around you.

Things that really motivate me to move up past a rider:
- they swerve to avoid potholes and such. Swervers are extremely dangerous. Riders should go through potholes that they don't see but in general should see them because they should be looking up the road a bit, even if they're sitting right on a wheel.
- people who ride with a stiff upper body, especially arms. If I notice a rider steering with his arms, I am around them ASAP. Someone not fluent enough to steer with their hips (leaving their arms relaxed) spells trouble to me. Get them in a tricky situation and I have very little confidence in them maintaining composure.
- people who can't hold a straight line.
- people who can't corner well, i.e. at the same speed as the rider in front, following the line of the rider in front

In fact, although it's not necessarily nice, I've intentionally shot certain riders off the back of the Tues Night Worlds crit because they let gaps go in the turns. Since the fields are small and I tail gun if I'm not at the front, inevitably they'll let a gap go when I'm behind them. So what I do is gap them off so they get dropped. This way I can tailgun with a bit more confidence. I actually gapped the same riders off week after week after week. It's like I line up, see them, let them gap me off maybe 2x, and then work them over until they're gone. If they get back in (you can at Tues Nights) I gap them off again. They're probably wondering why they get dropped, but since they're not anyone I know, and they have no idea who I am, I'll let someone they know tell them what they're doing wrong. It's not unsafe, it's just bad racing.

For race situations, people who corner on the hoods, or spend all day on the hoods.

For now I'd avoid the "sliding out to the side" move to ease up. Just feather the brakes instead.

Also, if you're not doing it already, ride in the drops in those situations. You are much less inviting to pass when on the drops and you can also stay upright better if things go pear shaped.

hope this helps
cdr
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Old 09-12-10, 09:59 PM
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OP, the groups culture is set. You're not going to change it unless you become a regular member who is respected by the group. Even then, it's hard to change a group culture quickly. If the group ride is not safe, I'd leave and find another ride, but you've got to make that decision.
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Old 09-13-10, 04:25 PM
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W Cole,

Which ride are you talking about? Is this Food Park or Como?
I heard the Food Park ride can get pretty agressive.
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Old 09-13-10, 08:00 PM
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Cdr,

Great post, but what is gapping off somebody? Does that mean you get in front of someone in the back of the group, slow a bit and then accelerate to catch back up to the group while they are left too far back to catch up to the group?
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Old 09-13-10, 10:25 PM
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What cdr said. Do not drift wide to catch wind. I used to do this, and lost my wheel every time. Just use the brakes very gently if needed. Stay in the drops, stay close to riders beside you and keep your upper body relaxed, so you can absorb a little contact without freaking out.
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Old 09-13-10, 10:45 PM
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Originally Posted by W Cole View Post
Also, today I saw some guy who was part of our ride decide to go down the sidewalk at atleast 25mph on deep dish carbon tubs and where the sidewalk dipped down a little he used it to jump/bunny hop at least 2-3' into the air before rejoining the peloton. That seemed a little sketchy to me.
To me it sounds like someone who learned the joy of cycling as a kid instead of picking up the "sport" once they got the dental license and 7-series.
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Old 09-13-10, 11:38 PM
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Originally Posted by zstjohn View Post
stick a stick in their spoke.
God I hope you are joking, but fail regardless.
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Old 09-13-10, 11:39 PM
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Originally Posted by pacificaslim View Post
To me it sounds like someone who learned the joy of cycling as a kid instead of picking up the "sport" once they got the dental license and 7-series.
What's wrong with a 7-series?
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Old 09-13-10, 11:43 PM
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Originally Posted by W Cole View Post
Also, today I saw some guy who was part of our ride decide to go down the sidewalk at atleast 25mph on deep dish carbon tubs and where the sidewalk dipped down a little he used it to jump/bunny hop at least 2-3' into the air before rejoining the peloton. That seemed a little sketchy to me.
I saw the australian national cx champion do something similar on the simi ride. Presumably it seemed "sketchy" because it was well above what you were comfortable with doing yourself.

Last edited by umd; 09-13-10 at 11:56 PM.
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Old 09-13-10, 11:51 PM
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Originally Posted by umd View Post
What's wrong with a 7-series?
Nothing! I could really go for one of those right about now. In fact, the dental license would be nice as well! The real point was just a (failed, i guess) attempt to be humorous and point out that some people do crazy **** on bikes because they've always done crazy **** on bikes and when they grow up and get carbon road bikes they just keep on doing it...
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Old 09-13-10, 11:55 PM
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I got your point, just giving you a hard time
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Old 09-14-10, 12:16 AM
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Originally Posted by W Cole View Post
Also, today I saw some guy who was part of our ride decide to go down the sidewalk at atleast 25mph on deep dish carbon tubs and where the sidewalk dipped down a little he used it to jump/bunny hop at least 2-3' into the air before rejoining the peloton. That seemed a little sketchy to me.
wat
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Old 09-14-10, 05:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Chef151 View Post
Cdr,

Great post, but what is gapping off somebody? Does that mean you get in front of someone in the back of the group, slow a bit and then accelerate to catch back up to the group while they are left too far back to catch up to the group?
Pretty much, but not quite so negative. At Tues Nights there's one turn in particular that certain riders take easier than others. If I go through the turn like they do, I'll lose 20-40 feet to the wheel in front of me. Due to the racing line, it's impractical to try and pass the rider - it's a 1, maybe 2 rider wide turn, 1 at any kind of speed.

That 20-40 foot gap is not really acceptable unless you're Eddy Merckx in his prime - otherwise the surging after the turn will be painful. In fact, Merckx apparently didn't corner that aggressively, and others didn't like following him. He'd rely on his superior strength to close gaps, but it caused hardship amongst those behind him.

On that turn, in that race, I figure it's acceptable to stay on the wheel which to me means overlap by a foot or three to lose maybe 2-3 feet.

So... If we turn into a headwind in that turn, a common wind direction there, the less adept rider will have lost 20-40 feet, and now they'll try a bit to close the gap. The first couple times they'll close the gap, a tremendous effort. After that the rider will try for a second or five, give up, and now there's a pretty big gap to close for someone else.

I'll close it a couple times, swearing at myself for being an idiot, but that effort'll put me into trouble - typically with some aggressive Cat 1s and 2s pushing the pace, it's hard enough without closing gaps. Probably 4-5-6 weeks this summer closing the gaps ended the race for me - put me over the edge and boom, I couldn't recover enough and within a few laps I was off the back.

Granted, sometimes I lose 10-15 feet unintentionally if something is weird in the turn. Then I close the gap surely and steadily unless I feel the need to put the hurt on people behind. Usually they're friends etc so I'll try and be nice.

So what I'll do is wait until the gap rider/s are behind me, i.e. they don't pass me just before the turn. Then I go through the turn and take maybe a couple % off the speed. It'll open a 6-10 foot gap, hardly significant, but I'll close it hard. A 1 bike length gap is pretty much fatal at that point and requires a huge effort to close, but it's small enough that it looks pretty normal.

Repeat a couple times and rider is gone. Once rider is gone, it usually takes one effort to gap them off again.

Granted, sometimes I lose 10-15 feet unintentionally if something is weird in the turn. Then I close the gap surely and steadily. And if I know I'm going to blow, I'll ride as far up as possible next to the rider in front of me and wave on whoever is behind me. Even if I can't ride up beside the guy in front, I'll at least move over and wave. It's clear I'm done. Finally, if I'm cooked, I try and stay behind everyone in the field, so that I don't get in the way.

The riders that don't do this, the ones that frantically pass just before turns and then leave gaps exiting them, they just make the race unnecessarily (and for me, a lot of times, impossibly) hard. When you move around someone, you're stating at some level that you have a certain amount of strength. Therefore, when you leave a gap, it's unclear if you did it because you were spacing out for a second or if you are cooked, can't corner, etc. It makes those on their wheel hesitate for a second or three before making the decision to move around. That's enough to open a 2-3 length gap, like 20-30-40 feet, and that is pretty hard to close in certain conditions.

Now, on Gimbles, I've been in a small group off the front and refused to take a turn because I was already on the edge and about to explode. I've had guys obviously open a gap in front of them when I was sitting last and they in front of me, then, when I try and close the gap, they sprint around me. This all takes place while the small group is averaging 28-32 mph, so all efforts in the wind really sap you. There was one day where the rider in front, a long time Cat 1, did it textbook style, no subtlety, just started coasting on a false flat, moved off, let me make an effort, then destroyed me. Afterward we had a good laugh - I told him I was about to explode anyway, he and 3-4 others guys were away for a while (he later got 3rd at a very hard Masters National RR). I know the guy, it's not like we're enemies, but on that ride he got me fair and square.

So it's not a personal thing. It's a big game. If someone gets you gapped off once or twice, you learn your lesson - you get around them. And if someone you know is gapping you off unintentionally, you should tell them. If you don't know them, shell them, at least in a primarily 1-2-3 race. They should know better.

cdr
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Old 09-14-10, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by darkadious View Post
wat
Haha, 36" bunny hop is impressive... 56" is the world record.
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Old 09-14-10, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by electrik View Post
Haha, 36" bunny hop is impressive... 56" is the world record.
Launching off the ramp of a curb will easily give you more air....
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