Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Touring
Reload this Page >

Hills ... and touring in pairs

Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

Hills ... and touring in pairs

Reply

Old 03-17-08, 01:42 PM
  #1  
Machka 
In Real Life
Thread Starter
 
Machka's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Down under down under
Posts: 50,669

Bikes: Lots

Mentioned: 105 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2495 Post(s)
Hills ... and touring in pairs

For the benefit of other cycletourists who ride with someone, I also want to mention something I have noticed about hills and coasting. I usually ride behind, occasionally I lead the way for a while, but more often than not, I end up being passed ... and that is OK with me. When we climb a hill, I'm usually the slower climber ... and that is OK with me too ... for now. You never know - one day I may surprise everyone with my climbing skills!!

But here is the situation ... if both of us arrive at the top of the hill at approximately the same time, and we begin the descent more or less together, with me on the wheel of the rider in front, I end up on the brakes all the way down the hill to keep from running into the rider in front. Machak seems to roll well, especially when he is loaded, and loaded touring bicycles create quite a draft! I can feel it when I get into the draft of the rider in front ... all of a sudden I accelerate dramatically! Knowing this, I get into the habit, when I'm touring, of slowing and braking when I reach the top of a hill to create distance between the rider in front and myself, rather than powering over a hill. I'm not sure what else to do.

One additional note ... for me, this only applies to straight hills. Throw a curve or two into the hill, and I'm on the brakes anyway, and the rider in front disappears in the distance.

(This is from the 4th page of my Australian tour: http://www.machka.net/2008/2008_Australian_Tour_4.htm)
Machka is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 03-17-08, 02:16 PM
  #2  
arctos
40 yrs bike touring
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Santa Barbara,CA.
Posts: 1,013

Bikes: Bruce Gordon Ti Rock N Road [1989], Fat Chance Mountain Tandem [1988]

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 9 Post(s)
Although I usually tour alone I often meet and ride with other cyclists in situations that you describe. My strategy is like motorcyclists who ride offset and back from other cycles in case of a problem.

Rather than ride the brakes on the downhills I prefer to sit in a maximum upright position to create an airbrake with my clydesdale body and clothing. This reduces rim heating and possible tire blowout.
arctos is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 03-17-08, 02:39 PM
  #3  
thechamp
loser
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: portland, or
Posts: 385

Bikes: steyr, lejeune, schwinn, sears, crescent, blah blah blah.

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Ask your partner to pedal a bit on the way downhill, he shouldn't have to work too hard to stay ahead of your non-pedaling speed.

Of course, drafting also seems risky on a loaded tourer at downhill speeds. I was tailing someone on tour (on the flat) and when they stopped pedaling, just for a moment, my wheel hit theirs, sharply turning my front wheel, and while they got off clean, I did a full flip into the grass on the side of the road. Fortunately, It was surprising more than anything else. I kept my distance after that. I realize that this was my fault and that constant vigilant attention could have prevented it but where's the fun in concentrating that hard on tour?

I suppose that if your partner isn't pedaling downhill then at least their speed is somewhat consistent, but then you also have the problem you describe.
thechamp is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 03-17-08, 02:41 PM
  #4  
2manybikes
Dog is my co-pilot
 
2manybikes's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 17,182

Bikes: 2 many

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 856 Post(s)
Originally Posted by Machka View Post
For the benefit of other cycletourists who ride with someone, I also want to mention something I have noticed about hills and coasting. I usually ride behind, occasionally I lead the way for a while, but more often than not, I end up being passed ... and that is OK with me. When we climb a hill, I'm usually the slower climber ... and that is OK with me too ... for now. You never know - one day I may surprise everyone with my climbing skills!!

But here is the situation ... if both of us arrive at the top of the hill at approximately the same time, and we begin the descent more or less together, with me on the wheel of the rider in front, I end up on the brakes all the way down the hill to keep from running into the rider in front. Machak seems to roll well, especially when he is loaded, and loaded touring bicycles create quite a draft! I can feel it when I get into the draft of the rider in front ... all of a sudden I accelerate dramatically! Knowing this, I get into the habit, when I'm touring, of slowing and braking when I reach the top of a hill to create distance between the rider in front and myself, rather than powering over a hill. I'm not sure what else to do.

One additional note ... for me, this only applies to straight hills. Throw a curve or two into the hill, and I'm on the brakes anyway, and the rider in front disappears in the distance.

(This is from the 4th page of my Australian tour: http://www.machka.net/2008/2008_Australian_Tour_4.htm)
To make the other bike faster down hill feed him a few more Austrailian cheesburgers.

Also, sit up high and try and catch a lot of wind to slow yourself down, if you are not already doing this.
Or, ride far enough behind so there is no drafting. Or both.
2manybikes is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 03-17-08, 04:26 PM
  #5  
Machka 
In Real Life
Thread Starter
 
Machka's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Down under down under
Posts: 50,669

Bikes: Lots

Mentioned: 105 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2495 Post(s)
One of the reasons this is suddenly an issue is because my climbing skills have improved in recent years. Before, unless the rider I was with was deliberately taking the hill slowly, he'd be gone (or standing and waiting for me at the top). Now, especially on roller-type hills, I'm right there.

And we like to try to ride approx. within communicating (preferably talking) distance. Otherwise we might as well be out there alone.

But I thought I'd mention this in case others have experienced the same thing or may experience something similar. It's one of the many things people who cycle together have to sort out ... communicate to each other about.

Last edited by Machka; 03-17-08 at 11:23 PM.
Machka is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 03-17-08, 05:38 PM
  #6  
antokelly
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 3,234
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 138 Post(s)
in spain 2006 we were climbing most of the day (road bikes)some serious climbing we all reached the top near enough togther , we decided it was every man for himself on the way down ,no tailgating, i went down that mountain at 60mph in spot's can you picture the scene if somebody hit my back wheel ,unless your a pro rider stay well away from the rider in front.
antokelly is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 03-17-08, 06:38 PM
  #7  
Jeebs Fat
I like bicycles!
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Baltimore
Posts: 72

Bikes: 2006 Redline Conquest Pro, 1984 Schwinn World Sport, others...

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I have no experience with this, but perhaps you could just swing out to the side a bit, out of your partner's draft. Traffic circumstances permiting of course. It would save your brake pads, to be sure.
Jeebs Fat is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 03-17-08, 06:44 PM
  #8  
Machka 
In Real Life
Thread Starter
 
Machka's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Down under down under
Posts: 50,669

Bikes: Lots

Mentioned: 105 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2495 Post(s)
If there's no traffic, and I get caught in that draft, it slingshots me by the rider in front. I go shooting down the hill past him. If there is traffic, and there usually is, I'm on the brakes to prevent that from happening.

Oh, and no worries about me going 60 mph! My top speed these days down a hill is about 50 km/h (30 mph).

Last edited by Machka; 03-17-08 at 11:10 PM.
Machka is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 03-17-08, 11:05 PM
  #9  
xiaodidi
Senior Member
 
xiaodidi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 61
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Why anyone is willing to risk life and limb to save 1/2 watt going downhill is beyond my analytical capabilities.

I often find myself accidentally squirting my water bottle over my shoulder whenever someone tries to sniff my buttocks, even in the flats.
xiaodidi is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 03-17-08, 11:17 PM
  #10  
Machka 
In Real Life
Thread Starter
 
Machka's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Down under down under
Posts: 50,669

Bikes: Lots

Mentioned: 105 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2495 Post(s)
Originally Posted by 2manybikes View Post
To make the other bike faster down hill feed him a few more Austrailian cheesburgers.

Also, sit up high and try and catch a lot of wind to slow yourself down, if you are not already doing this.
Or, ride far enough behind so there is no drafting. Or both.
Sitting up doesn't seem to work for me for some reason ... at least not significantly.

And I'm trying not to draft down the hill, but the draft of a loaded touring bike descending a hill is not only strong, it's a lot longer than the draft created by a bicycle on flat ground. There are times I can be a good 20 or 30 feet back, and I'll get caught in the draft and suddenly pulled closer. It's fun if there is no traffic and I've got the whole road or shoulder to play with ... but when there's traffic on my hip, it's not so much fun.
Machka is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 03-17-08, 11:48 PM
  #11  
Machka 
In Real Life
Thread Starter
 
Machka's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Down under down under
Posts: 50,669

Bikes: Lots

Mentioned: 105 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2495 Post(s)
Originally Posted by xiaodidi View Post
Why anyone is willing to risk life and limb to save 1/2 watt going downhill is beyond my analytical capabilities.

I often find myself accidentally squirting my water bottle over my shoulder whenever someone tries to sniff my buttocks, even in the flats.
I don't think anyone here is willing to risk life and limb to save 1/2 watt going downhill. I'm not sure where you got that impression.

And I gather you tour solo. When you tour with a partner, you learn your partner's riding style, you trust your partner and don't mind if your partner rides nearby.

This thread is about an aspect of learning your partner's riding style, and being able to ride compatably together.
Machka is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 03-18-08, 01:29 AM
  #12  
xilios
Senior Member
 
xilios's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Maastricht, NL
Posts: 584

Bikes: Gazelle Playa

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
My wife and I always stay within 10-15m of eachother either going up the hills or down. We never cycle very close, we had a nasty spill last year on a training ride and now keep at least one meter between us. And on tour we wait for each other, I'm usually first when climbing and she's first on the descend.
xilios is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 03-18-08, 03:06 AM
  #13  
Chris L
Every lane is a bike lane
 
Chris L's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia - passionfruit capital of the universe!
Posts: 9,640
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Short answer: don't sweat the small stuff.

Whenever I ride with someone else in any capacity, we always become separated when the terrain is hilly. This is largely because I'm a much better climber than descender. I just let it unfold. I know my own abilities, so I know when and where I have to wait for someone (if at all), and whoever I'm riding with usually figures it out pretty quickly too. It's just a matter of having some trust in your riding partner, and it always seems to work. In fact, this works even when I'm riding with someone I just met at the campsite the previous evening.

There's plenty of time for chatter on the flat stretches, or the point where someone waits for the other person, or even over dinner at the campsite at day's end.
__________________
I am clinically insane. I am proud of it.

That is all.
Chris L is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 03-18-08, 06:42 AM
  #14  
Neil_B
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Mentioned: Post(s)
Tagged: Thread(s)
Quoted: Post(s)
Originally Posted by Machka View Post
For the benefit of other cycletourists who ride with someone, I also want to mention something I have noticed about hills and coasting. I usually ride behind, occasionally I lead the way for a while, but more often than not, I end up being passed ... and that is OK with me. When we climb a hill, I'm usually the slower climber ... and that is OK with me too ... for now. You never know - one day I may surprise everyone with my climbing skills!!

But here is the situation ... if both of us arrive at the top of the hill at approximately the same time, and we begin the descent more or less together, with me on the wheel of the rider in front, I end up on the brakes all the way down the hill to keep from running into the rider in front. Machak seems to roll well, especially when he is loaded, and loaded touring bicycles create quite a draft! I can feel it when I get into the draft of the rider in front ... all of a sudden I accelerate dramatically! Knowing this, I get into the habit, when I'm touring, of slowing and braking when I reach the top of a hill to create distance between the rider in front and myself, rather than powering over a hill. I'm not sure what else to do.

One additional note ... for me, this only applies to straight hills. Throw a curve or two into the hill, and I'm on the brakes anyway, and the rider in front disappears in the distance.

(This is from the 4th page of my Australian tour: http://www.machka.net/2008/2008_Australian_Tour_4.htm)
Discuss it with your riding partner beforehand and explain the situation. I'm sure the two of you can work out something.
 
Reply With Quote
Old 03-18-08, 07:25 AM
  #15  
staehpj1 
Senior Member
 
staehpj1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Posts: 9,202
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 149 Post(s)
When riding with my two riding partners on tour last Summer. I ran across the same issues. When I was in the back on downhills I did a few different things depending on the hill and what I felt like at the time.
1. Sometimes sitting up and offsetting allowed me to control speed with at least a reduced amount of braking.
2. Sometimes I just let them get a good long lead by pausing at the top. In rolling type terrain where the hills weren't too long I had to be careful to try to time this so I would catch them at the right point and not lose too much ground.
3. Sometimes I just popped out of the draft and slingshotted by and let them pass me again later.

BTW: We did like to draft on the flats and found it a great help especially when there were headwinds. If you either have a headwind or are zipping along at 18-22 MPH the difference in effort is amazing. You do have to pay CLOSE attention when a foot or two off of someone's wheel though and it does detract from the ability to enjoy the scenery, but in Kansas (where there isn't all that much to look at) with a headwind I'm happy to forgo the scenery for a while to make better time.
staehpj1 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 03-18-08, 08:34 AM
  #16  
Machka 
In Real Life
Thread Starter
 
Machka's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Down under down under
Posts: 50,669

Bikes: Lots

Mentioned: 105 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2495 Post(s)
Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
Discuss it with your riding partner beforehand and explain the situation. I'm sure the two of you can work out something.
Exactly my point. This is one of those things a person doesn't necessarily think of discussing before a tour... and in my case, the situation only comes up on certain types of hills, so it won't necessarily even become an issue right away. I'm just making others, especially those who are touring with someone for the first time, aware of this situation too.
Machka is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 03-18-08, 08:40 AM
  #17  
Neil_B
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Mentioned: Post(s)
Tagged: Thread(s)
Quoted: Post(s)
Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Exactly my point. This is one of those things a person doesn't necessarily think of discussing before a tour... and in my case, the situation only comes up on certain types of hills, so it won't necessarily even become an issue right away. I'm just making others, especially those who are touring with someone for the first time, aware of this situation too.
My problem is that, even though I outweigh him by 50-60 pounds, I can outclimb Neil F., so whenever we face a hill I have to tell him to pull over so I can get by.
 
Reply With Quote
Old 03-18-08, 08:42 AM
  #18  
2manybikes
Dog is my co-pilot
 
2manybikes's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 17,182

Bikes: 2 many

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 856 Post(s)
Originally Posted by Machka View Post

And we like to try to ride approx. within communicating (preferably talking) distance. Otherwise we might as well be out there alone.
A friend bought a pair of inexpensive two way radios. The kind that you can wear and they transmit automatically when you talk.
He was thinking his wife would like that when they rode together.
They were terrible, it was easier to yell if needed. We did one test ride and he took them back.
2manybikes is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 03-18-08, 09:23 AM
  #19  
rogerstg
Fred-ish
 
rogerstg's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 1,800
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Can't you simply tell the person you are taking the lead, take it and discuss why later if needed?
Not touring, but when riding with my GF last year, she climbed much better than me -she could drop me like a bad habit if she chose - so she would normally lead.

On the descent, for whatever reasons, I could go faster coasting than she would pedaling. I'd simply tell her I was passing (when traffic allowed). It was never an issue.

Back then I weighed 40# more than now, so we'll see what this year brings when we ride together.
rogerstg is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 03-18-08, 10:47 AM
  #20  
Machka 
In Real Life
Thread Starter
 
Machka's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Down under down under
Posts: 50,669

Bikes: Lots

Mentioned: 105 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2495 Post(s)
Originally Posted by rogerstg View Post
Can't you simply tell the person you are taking the lead, take it and discuss why later if needed?
Not touring, but when riding with my GF last year, she climbed much better than me -she could drop me like a bad habit if she chose - so she would normally lead.

On the descent, for whatever reasons, I could go faster coasting than she would pedaling. I'd simply tell her I was passing (when traffic allowed). It was never an issue.

Back then I weighed 40# more than now, so we'll see what this year brings when we ride together.
It's because of the long draft created by descending cyclists. On a really long hill, I would assume that if Rider 2 slingshotted past Rider 1, Rider 1 would get caught in Rider 2's draft and slingshot past Rider 2, and the riders would alternate like that. It would be interesting to see if that worked!


BTW - traffic is the reason I don't take the lead ... I do, when traffic is not an issue.
Machka is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 03-18-08, 10:51 AM
  #21  
Machka 
In Real Life
Thread Starter
 
Machka's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Down under down under
Posts: 50,669

Bikes: Lots

Mentioned: 105 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2495 Post(s)
Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
When riding with my two riding partners on tour last Summer. I ran across the same issues. When I was in the back on downhills I did a few different things depending on the hill and what I felt like at the time.
1. Sometimes sitting up and offsetting allowed me to control speed with at least a reduced amount of braking.
2. Sometimes I just let them get a good long lead by pausing at the top. In rolling type terrain where the hills weren't too long I had to be careful to try to time this so I would catch them at the right point and not lose too much ground.
3. Sometimes I just popped out of the draft and slingshotted by and let them pass me again later.

BTW: We did like to draft on the flats and found it a great help especially when there were headwinds. If you either have a headwind or are zipping along at 18-22 MPH the difference in effort is amazing. You do have to pay CLOSE attention when a foot or two off of someone's wheel though and it does detract from the ability to enjoy the scenery, but in Kansas (where there isn't all that much to look at) with a headwind I'm happy to forgo the scenery for a while to make better time.
Your first section is exactly how I ride.

But your second section brings up another rider communication issue ... I ride fairly well in the wind (13 years of cycling in Manitoba will do that to you) and can drop riders behind me when I'm going into a headwind. That would be fine if I were racing, but when we're supposed to work together, I need to modify my wind-riding style to keep us together.

There are lots of these little riding style issues!
Machka is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 03-18-08, 10:51 AM
  #22  
Machka 
In Real Life
Thread Starter
 
Machka's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Down under down under
Posts: 50,669

Bikes: Lots

Mentioned: 105 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2495 Post(s)
Originally Posted by 2manybikes View Post
A friend bought a pair of inexpensive two way radios. The kind that you can wear and they transmit automatically when you talk.
He was thinking his wife would like that when they rode together.
They were terrible, it was easier to yell if needed. We did one test ride and he took them back.
I've wondered how those would work.
Machka is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 03-18-08, 11:05 AM
  #23  
pasopia
Senior Member
 
pasopia's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 617

Bikes: soma double cross DC, giant reign

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
This happens a lot with my touring partner and I. Usually I am faster climbing, but he catches up to me going downhill. We just pass each other when we need to and try to stay within sight distance. We only really draft on flats, for hilly terrain it makes me uncomfortable. Riding the brakes hard just to stay behind somebody is not that fun, and its usually safe to pass.
pasopia is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 03-18-08, 11:29 AM
  #24  
staehpj1 
Senior Member
 
staehpj1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Posts: 9,202
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 149 Post(s)
Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Your first section is exactly how I ride.
Yea I figured it kind of made sense and can't think of any other viable choices.

Originally Posted by Machka View Post
But your second section brings up another rider communication issue ... I ride fairly well in the wind (13 years of cycling in Manitoba will do that to you) and can drop riders behind me when I'm going into a headwind. That would be fine if I were racing, but when we're supposed to work together, I need to modify my wind-riding style to keep us together.
That or the person following you needs to hop on your wheel and stay real close. Not everyone is comfortable riding a few inches to a couple feet off of your wheel though and when the wind is quartering and you need to draft to the side a bit there isn't always room and also it can be tricky to find the best spot to be.

Another similar issue we found is the differences we all had with regard to climbing different types of hills. My daughter and I were both pretty strong on the rolling stuff and able to maintain a good turn of speed and take them more easily by keeping momentum going, but our other partner couldn't maintain any speed over the rollers. She was very good on long steady climbs though. We would have to either work harder to go slower or just hang back every second or third roller to let her get caught up. Similarly she would get ahead of me on some of the long climbs of a certain pitch.

On certain types of climbs in the east they both kicked my @ss and in a few other situations I was maybe a bit stronger. Some times it was just who felt better on a given day though and amount of weight carried factored in to it too I guess.

We all just made whatever adjustments were required to stay together.
staehpj1 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 03-18-08, 12:03 PM
  #25  
The Smokester
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: N. California
Posts: 1,410
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I always stay near whoever's carrying the Oreos.
The Smokester is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us Archive Advertising Cookie Policy Privacy Statement Terms of Service