|Riding in a peloton (GROUP)has certain unwritten rules and responsibilities for each rider. The most important are listed here.
Point at and call out obstacles especially if you are at the front! This includes anything that might cause a rider to fall: potholes, loose gravel, road kill (no kidding!), pedestrians, cars even small animals who happen to be crossing the road!
Never overlap wheels.
Always be aware of the rear wheel in front of you but look past it! Be careful to not become hypnotized by it.
When at the front:
Hold a steady and predictable line.
Do not alter your speed. If you stand to pedal on a hill or for any length of time, shift down to keep the same speed and avoid backward surges.
Communicate to the other riders behind you prior to any change of direction.
Ride safely! You are responsible for others in front of, beside and behind you. A radical move can have consequences for you and others around you.
After you've participated in some races, you will be able to discern the personality of a race as it develops. In some races, the attacks are relentless! Others are more passive events. Positive racing, as opposed to passive racing can be used to describe a rider or group of riders who make things happen.
An attack or counter attack are examples of positive racing. Organizing a chase group and then bridging the gap is positive racing. This may require organizational and leadership skills. Once you are in break or chase group, the most efficient way to stay off the front or chase down a break is in a pace line. A pace line(riding track turns) is a very efficient method for a group of individuals to work as a unit. This is where the organizational skills are necessary.
In a pace line(or riding track turns) each rider in the group 'takes a turn' at the front and then drifts to the back of the line to recover while the rest of the line moves through. The efforts at the front are usually short in duration, perhaps a few seconds. The time spent at the front 'working' depends upon your strength, the strength of the others working with you and the speed at which you are moving. The faster your speed the shorter the effort in general. If there are only two or three riders, the time at the front will need to be longer and the organization precise in order to keep the group working together. The time spent working your way back to the front is your rest period. Don't be surprised if resting still seems hard! In reality, you are conserving quite a bit of energy if you are drafting properly. During both rest and work periods it is very important to hold a steady line staying about six inches behind the wheel in front of you. Try not to allow gaps to open. As you are passing the rider in front of you that has just eased off, you should start gradually easing off yourself as your rear wheel passes his/her front wheel. This steady progression will make for a smooth transition from riding through to moving off. Once you reach the front don't increase your speed! Keep it steady. This will minimize the chance of opening a gap between you and the next rider in line. Accelerating hurts everyone including yourself! Try taking one or two easier pedal strokes after you ease off to allow the next rider to come through.
A Long Pace Line
If you are able to organize a double echelon, (two lines of riders side by side) always try to drift to the back into the crosswind. This helps shelter the working line allowing it to move faster while expending less energy. In either case, remember to ride smoothly and predictably. Never accelerate or brake suddenly. If you need to slow yourself, use a technique called 'feathering the brakes.' Gently touch the brake pads to the rims but don't stop pedaling! Another method to try is simply reducing the amount of pedal force you apply and sit up a little. If the speed is high the extra wind resistance coupled with less pedal force will slow you gradually. If you tire, ask a stronger rider for help to fill the gap while you are at the back. You can skip a rotation or two but abusing this privilege will be perceived as not working and could elicit some sprint breaking attacks! Another tactic is called resting in place. When it's your turn to pull, do so briefly and slide to the rear right away. This allows the pace line to maintain its speed and affords you an additional rotation to rest.
Bicycle racing can be a rewarding team and individual sport. If this is your first year racing and you have never been involved in an endurance sport, you may experience some difficulty staying with the group in a race. This is normal! Try not to get discouraged. Road racing will push you to your limits many times in a single race. It requires tactical knowledge as well as physical strength to succeed. Keep training. Train smart! Try not to over train. Remember, high intensity and long rides are not always better. Listen to your body. Get advice from others. Our club has numerous elite calibre riders who are always willing to help. There are several good training books available and the world wide web is also a great resource. With a reasonable training routine, proper rest and nutrition, each week will bring noticeable improvement.
Adapted with permission from Genesee Valley Cycling Club
Some terms have been altered from the original to suit our local situation.
GENESEE VALLEY CYCLE CLUB