5 essential tips for group cycling
After an amazing tutorial with David G and his team mates from Prime Coaching, the Tribesports team have learnt loads about how to ride as a group. Here are some essential tips on how to work together as a team to make the most out of your rides!
1. Slipstream - when riding in a group, the second rider will be working around 30% less than the lead rider. This is because there is around 2 metres of slipstream behind the lead rider as they shield the riders behind from the wind resistance. In order to slipstream effectively you must:
- maintain a steady pace
- not make any sudden changes
- change your lead rider to keep fresh legs leading the chain gang
Time the top of your right hand pedal stroke to the rhythm of "twinkle twinkle little star" and you are rotating approx 80-85 revolutions per minute. Select a gear that is comfortable to maintain and you will be at approximately the right gear!
For many riders, changing down a gear feels like defeat - but you can often go faster in a lower gear with higher revs!
When slowing down, don't forget to ditch the speed by feathering both the brakes before going into a corner, and squeeze on the pedals as soon as the bike rights itself to power out. If cornering in pairs, the outside rider has to work harder to travel further around the corner than the inside rider. And always keep your inside pedal up on tight turns.
3. Positioning - You should be riding close together, not just to the rider in front of you but also to the rider to your side - you should be close enough that you can touch elbows for best efficiency.
When travelling downhill, position yourself further back in the saddle and always break lightly with your front break to avoid flying off! Using your drops in corners and downhill will give you more natural steerage, to use them best you should be wide and low.
4. Communication - This is the key to group cycling; from pointing out hazards to correcting pace, communicating within your group is a huge part of enjoyment and safety when riding together:
- riders should be aware that thier voices can get lost in windy conditions and so hand signals are essential in communicating with the group
- front riders must always raise awareness of hazards like pot holes etc. This message should then be passed back through the group "Pot hole Right side" with a hand pointing it out
- when making changes to keep the front legs fresh, the riders at the back of the group need to tell transitioning riders that they are the 'Last Man' - a clear call to signal for the riders to rejoin the group
- if riders fall behind, the group needs to slow down so they can catch up - it is nearly impossible for a lone-rider to catch up with a larger group!
5. Compromise - you may find yourself riding faster or slower than you usually do, either way you will cover more ground more comfortably working in the group so a certain aspect of compromise is essential. The group should ride at the fast pace of the slowest rider - this rider may not spend so much time at the front and should be working hard so the group can make good progress. The only way for this to work is honesty - if you are struggling with the pace then make it clear to the group.
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