Tech­nique Six tips for bet­ter group rid­ing

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - Contents - by Keir Plaice

TTake your pack’s per­for­mance to a higher level

he group ac­cel­er­ates and your fo­cus nar­rows to the thin slice of rub­ber spin­ning inches from your front wheel. You shift into a heav­ier gear and grind your chainrings to match the pace. You dodge a pot­hole then move to the front of the bunch. The rider be­side you gri­maces. Mov­ing over to the white line, you push harder on the ped­als. Your legs burn and your throat is dry. Still, you drive on, not want­ing to be the first to let off. A cor­ner ap­proaches. With­out hes­i­ta­tion, you cut to the in­side, fly reck­lessly through the turn, and sprint out as hard as you can.

If this sit­u­a­tion re­minds you of your reg­u­lar group ride, you and your fel­low rid­ers may be miss­ing the point. In the sce­nario, the rid­ers aren’t work­ing to­gether. In­stead, they form an un­safe col­lec­tion of cy­clists on the road. Group rid­ing is col­lec­tive ef­fort that can, and should, be one of the most en­joy­able ways that you can spend time on your bi­cy­cle. Here are a few tips to make fu­ture bunch rides bet­ter and safer ex­pe­ri­ences for ev­ery­one in­volved.

With th­ese points in mind, your group rides will be­come more flu­ent af­fairs. Ev­ery­one will be in unison; each rider swap­ping turns smoothly, rid­ing in front just long enough to main­tain the pace. You will glance at your com­puter and hardly be­lieve the speed at which the group is trav­el­ling. Your legs will turn freely. You’ll see a cor­ner ap­proach­ing over the shoul­der ahead and will be sucked into the lead as it fades off to the side. You’ll take the cor­ner smoothly, check be­hind to en­sure that ev­ery­one is at­tached, and then grad­u­ally pull wind­ward, leav­ing room on the road for the line trail­ing be­hind. The next rider will come through as you point to a crack in the pave­ment and then fall back into the ro­ta­tion.

A well-work­ing band of cy­clists is an amaz­ing thing to be a part of. With prac­tice, you will soon mas­ter the nu­ances of group rid­ing and, in do­ing so, learn the es­sen­tial skills that will serve you at all lev­els of the sport.

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