Group Riding 101

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Bike Race Finish

Just some miscellaneous group riding tips shared by one of my fellow group riders:

Riding through tunnels — Ever wonder how the pros handle riding into a tunnel in the Giro or Tour of Swiss.  The transition from light to dark creates sight problems as you may guess.  Close one eye for some moments prior to entering the tunnel.  The eye will dilate and you will be able to see in the lower light conditions of the tunnel.  Ok this is useless for us,  but I’ll bet you never heard it before.  

Half wheeling — When riding “two up” each rider is responsible to stay even with the other.  The slower rider sets the pace.  If the bike next to you slows, then you slow to stay even.  It’s not cool to ride faster and faster to keep your wheel just ahead of the bike next to you.  If you are pulling away it’s your responsibility to slow.  It’s not the other rider’s responsibility to speed up.  Going faster and faster and faster will break the peloton.

Riding on the “tops” of the bars — I often see riders ride with their palms on the tops.  It is comfortable but if you hit a pot hole that you did not see, you might loose control, crash and take us all out.  Keep one thumb (or both) hooked below the top of the bar.

Intersections — The first rider (s) have responsibility for the safety of the bunch.  If you see traffic, make a judgment on whether or not the entire group and make it.  If the group can’t make it (with plenty of clearance) then stop.  Use hand signals.

Flat Tires —  If the group is resolved to stop for flats it can mean several stops when we are a large group.  To me stopping for flats should be reserved to small group rides, say less than 11.  When a flat occurs raise your hand so bikes can ride around you as you slow.  Stay on your line.  Don’t pull off until the group has passed you and it’s clear behind.  Right hand up means rear flat, left hand up means front flat (follows brake controls).  Only the rider with the flat should raise their hand so others know who flatted and can make their way safely around them.  Do not sit up and point at the guy with the flat tire.  Let him or her identify themselves.

Inflate the night before — If you inflate your tires the night before you ride, you will know if you have a slow leak.  Just a quick hardness check by pressing the thumb straight into the tread is enough prior to your ride.  Riding at pressures from 90 ~ 110 psi are negligible in terms of rolling resistance and if your pressure is falling from say 110 to 90 within 24 hours you should be investigating a slow leak.  When you find a slow leak it’s typically a shard that has penetrated the tire casing and wears a small puncture into the tube.  When you take apart the tire, feel the inside of the casing all the way around with your thumb for shards that have penetrated the case.  Be careful because if the shard is glass they can worsen your day.  If you are changing tires at home, use talc between the tube and tire.  This lowers friction between the tire and tube and helps the tire roll better.  It also makes it easier to change the tube because it does not stick to the inside of the tire.

Live, love, and ride.

Dean

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