Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Riding in the slipstream

There I was cycling home the other day, happily cruising along with my burger bike bell, when I saw the shadow of another cyclist trotting along behind me. The shadow edged closer and closer behind me, so close it looked like he was my own shadow. I wasn't happy with this situation, so I stepped up my game and cycled faster, after all my cycle space was being intruded by an uninvited visiter.

The faster I pedaled faster, the faster the cyclist  behind me also pedaled. So it was time for plan two, put on the brakes! I have my pride, but sometimes you can't always be speedy Gonzalez, you have to compromise and side step to get what you want. The brakes went on and I slowed down, but still the shadow of the cyclist was on my tail and I just couldn't shake him off.
And then it hit me....this man is DRAFTING me! I have heard about this before through whispers at the traffic lights, but didn't think anyone would be as cheeky as to actually do it, especially on a Tuesday, in Islington on a grey dreary day. If you haven't heard of drafting then let me tell you, but please, I ask you to not tell anyone as I don't want this getting out. It's definition is 'To select (a person or a group of people) for a certain purpose.'. 

I had been selected, but for what purpose?  If you are a fan of sports cycling then you will be well informed about this tactic. In fact, it is even publicised on the internet!  Now, I don't want everyone to latch onto this, so make sure you delete your internet history after reading this page. There is a site which tells you what drafting is and even gives you tips on learning to draft another rider..... Here's what they say:
5. Learn to draft another rider! 
By sheltering and following closely behind a rider (drafting), you can save up to 30% of your energy!  Now that is significant and could be the difference between finishing well and struggling to finish over a tough 100 miles, especially if it’s a windy day!  Look to ‘shelter’ at all times on group rides and think about where the wind is coming from to shelter on the right side of the person in front of you.  Never just sit in the wind if you can shelter behind someone.  The same goes for false flat descents.  If you’re a small person and don’t ride them well, find a ‘big boy’ and get down low behind him to get pulled along…yeeehaaa!:-) 

So, this guy was stealing my wind, I was his big boy! All the way from the square mile to Arsenal stadium, this sneaky cyclist was on my back. He finally sloped away at a roundabout after about 20 minutes of basking in my slipstream. I thought that he was going to draft me right onto my pannier because of how close he was getting. I was in no mood to give a fellow cyclist a backy!

I felt violated, after all, I didn't invite him to 'shelter' in my wind. I have learnt my lesson and now when I'm out and about on the mean streets, I steer clear of folk who look like drafters. You can tell the sort once it has happened to you. You always remember. Sometimes cars like to draft me, but I'm not always sure why??

Please let me know if you have experienced such a crime too...

7 comments:

ndru said...

peddling is generally not the best way to get away from someone - try pedaling instead :)The previous one is good for making money though...

Jemma said...

Ah! Always a word I can't spell!! Corrected :-)

emilyobyrne said...

There is nothing inherently wrong with drafting, but the idea is that you take turns and share the effort. Not taking your turn in the wind is exceptionally poor form.

Next time, you might invite the person to do their time on the front, so that you share the work. If they refuse, and continue lurking on your wheel, you could try randomly speeding up and braking, and combine this with a bit of random swerving in a way that leads them over all the worst holes in the road, which they won't be able to see because they are following you so closely. This should make the price of drafting so high that they give up.

The risk is, that if they are quite an inexperienced rider (which their very rude behaviour suggests they might be) they could end up crashing into you by accident. So I tend to content myself with swearing quietly to myself and hoping they get a puncture.

anniebikes said...

How weird and creepy to have someone draft you like that. I wouldn't mind someone following me, but to have them not acknowledge that they are there borders on childish behavior, especially after you slowed and still couldn't shake him. I would've turned around and said something like "Would you like to lead?"

Iainecg said...

Funny you blog about this today - had someone cheekily drafting me today, rather than braking just ease off - less chance of them running into you. It worked for me, he came past and I hopped onto his wheel (and carried on at the same speed as I was when he was behind me!) The easiest way to demonstrate the benefits of drafting involves buses and can be dangerous - yesterday's wind was good for it as the hole in the air made by anything is much larger. This means you can catch the tow from further away. I'm reluctant to suggest trying it out as it can be dangerous, but can also be good fun and save a heap of energy. Accelerating my bike up to the mid 20s literally just gently turning the pedals and flicking up the gears is fun. Of course, you need to be very aware of what the conditions are ahead and anticipate braking - You can also feel the full aerodynamic effects, ease back from the tow and you'll hit the turbulent air rushing into the space - you don't want to be there!

I have had someone shout at me once for the terrible crime of braking for people crossing the road ahead - if he hadn't been practically in my panniers he might have seen them too...

Iain

Chris Bolt On Bicycles said...

Stand on the pedals and "throw some gas" and give the lurking draughter some head"wind" :)

n1cck said...

very bad form. You have to share the load when drafting, the cyclist following you should have know better, if their happy to draft they should take their turn. Next time just stop.

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