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Group Riding Dynamics



 
 
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  #1  
Old September 23rd 03, 06:14 PM
Roy Zipris
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Default Group Riding Dynamics

As my riding and bike-handling skills have improved, I've been doing
some centuries and metric centuries with small groups of between 3 and
6 riders from one of the bike clubs to which I belong, not always the
same people. We are not skillful enough to ride in a paceline but we
do try to work together, although usually only partially successfully.

The dynamics of riding in a group intrigues me and I've asked some
previous questions arising from my experiences. The question that
occurred to me during this weekend's charity ride is this: how do you
handle hills when the riders in the group have different abilities to
maintain some speed and momentum while climbing? That is, I take my
turn pulling then pull off to rest--but then comes a hill and the line
breaks down. I'm a bit stronger up hills than most of the people with
whom I ride so I typically have to pull out to the left and pass just
to get up the hill without killing myself at the slower pace. Then I
usually soft-pedal until we regroup when I either stay out front or
let the leaders take over again.

We often have a similar situation on descents where some folks ride
their brakes and others are more comfortable getting up some speed. I
of course like the speed going down hill because it helps me get my
bulk up the next hill.

So how does a group stay or work together better when the members
cannot climb at roughly the same speed? Thanks for contributing to my
cycling education.
--Roy Zipris
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  #3  
Old September 23rd 03, 08:16 PM
David L. Johnson
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Default Group Riding Dynamics

On Tue, 23 Sep 2003 10:14:13 +0000, Roy Zipris wrote:

pull off to rest--but then comes a hill and the line breaks down. I'm a
bit stronger up hills than most of the people with whom I ride so I
typically have to pull out to the left and pass just to get up the hill
without killing myself at the slower pace. Then I usually soft-pedal until
we regroup when I either stay out front or let the leaders take over
again.


Unless the groups is very fast climbing, a pace line on a hill is not of
much help, anyway. The groups I ride with usually break apart on hills as
well, and those who get up first wait for those who are slower. If
your abilities aren't too far apart it should not be a problem. I prefer
for everyone to climb at their own best pace. It gives the stronger
riders a challenge they may not feel on the flats in a moderate paceline,
and some bragging rights, but no one should feel pressured to climb beyond
their abilities or give up the ride. Usually, no one complains about a
re-grouping stop at the top of the hill.

We often have a similar situation on descents where some folks ride their
brakes and others are more comfortable getting up some speed. I of course
like the speed going down hill because it helps me get my bulk up the next
hill.


I'm with you there. One woman I ride with is unusually slow at downhills,
and can really drop back behind the rest of us. We don't have trouble
with a re-grouping stop at the bottom when she's with us.

It depends on how competitive your group is.

So how does a group stay or work together better when the members cannot
climb at roughly the same speed?


It's rare for a non-racing group to be able to work together climbing.
For me, hills are always an individual challenge.

--

David L. Johnson

__o | It is a scientifically proven fact that a mid life crisis can
_`\(,_ | only be cured by something racy and Italian. Bianchis and
(_)/ (_) | Colnagos are a lot cheaper than Maserattis and Ferraris. --
Glenn Davies

  #4  
Old September 23rd 03, 08:44 PM
Peter Cole
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Default Group Riding Dynamics

"Roy Zipris" wrote in message
m...

The dynamics of riding in a group intrigues me and I've asked some
previous questions arising from my experiences. The question that
occurred to me during this weekend's charity ride is this: how do you
handle hills when the riders in the group have different abilities to
maintain some speed and momentum while climbing?


I think the system that works best is for riders to pull out of the line when
a gap opens in front, and let the line pull through. This doesn't work when a
slower rider is pulling, if you're the lead rider and you know you're not as
strong a climber, just pull out & let the group through. When strong riders
start pulling out to pass on the left, you wind up with a disorganized pack
several abreast, filling the road. After you've climbed a few hills in a
group, you know who the strong climbers are, just pull out so they can pass,
maintain your pace, and go back in line when a suitable gap shows up. The
bigger the group, the harder it is to manage all this smoothly. Unless riders
are really well matched, a group larger than 5 or 6 becomes pretty ragged. I'd
rather ride alone than in a ragged paceline, especially for several hours.

When you're riding a long distance, it may makes more sense just to climb in a
line at the speed of the slowest, there's no point in going ahead if you're
just going to regroup. Often, the slower climbers are fast on the flats, so it
all works out.


  #5  
Old September 24th 03, 01:42 AM
Chris Neary
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Default Group Riding Dynamics

The bottom line is that once the abilities of the group become too disparate
(either climbing or descending) the group *will* disintegrate.

The long term solution is to keep riding together while each member
consciously works to improve his/her individual weak point(s).


Chris Neary


"Science, freedom, beauty, adventu what more could
you ask of life? Bicycling combined all the elements I
loved" - Adapted from a quotation by Charles Lindbergh
  #6  
Old September 24th 03, 04:08 AM
MRiordan95
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Default Group Riding Dynamics

In article , Ken writes:

Encourage the slower climbers to burst ahead of the group before the hill.
The stronger climbers can then catch up near the top.


Wow…this is the worst advice I've ever read about riders of various abilities
and hill climbing/descending (while not under racing conditions). A good hill
climber knows that exerting a lot of energy before a climb is a waste of
effort.

Slower riders should conserve as much energy as possible by sitting behind
stronger riders, letting them break the wind. Stronger riders should allow
them to "sit in". At the bottom of a climb, the slower riders should be
allowed to move up to the front of the group USING AS LITTLE ENERGY AS
POSSIBLE. On the climb, the slower rider should maintain his/her own pace and
filter back through the group.

Do you ever see Lance Armstrong attacking just before a big climb? His team
gets him to the bottom of the climb in such a way that he uses as little effort
as possible. He stays fresh so he can climb at his best. Why should a weaker
rider, surrounded by stronger hill climbers use a different technique by
"bursting ahead of the group"?

At the top of a climb, strong riders who soft-pedal are probably extending the
best courtesy possible. U-turning and riding in circles is a sign of
impatience and can discourage the slower riders.

On the descents, it is safer to spread out and regroup at the bottom. You
express that you and your riding partners are still learning the skills of
cycling. Drafting while on a descent with riders of limited skills is an
accident waiting to happen.

With a wide variety of abilities, strong riders should realize that doing the
"bulk of the work" is good group dynamics and helps the slower riders to grow
in ability. Your inquires, types of questions, and examples show that you and
your group are well on the way of learning the group dynamics skills of club
rides.
  #7  
Old September 24th 03, 03:05 PM
Art Harris
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Default Group Riding Dynamics

Ken wrote:

Encourage the slower climbers to burst ahead of the group before the hill.
The stronger climbers can then catch up near the top. After the climb, the
more tired people can rest in the draft for a while before taking their pulls
again.


I hear this advice all the time. It may make some sense for racers who
don't want to get dropped on the hills. But for recreational rides it
creates problems.

It's a real PITA when slower riders sprint to the front just before a
climb, only to slow down a short distance up the hill. This requires
faster riders to pass them, often on narrow, twisty roads with
traffic.

It's works out much better if the slower climbers stay at the back,
and the faster climbers wait up at the top.

Art Harris
  #8  
Old September 25th 03, 02:39 AM
Chris Neary
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Default Group Riding Dynamics

Unless the groups is very fast climbing, a pace line on a hill is not of
much help, anyway. The groups I ride with usually break apart on hills as
well, and those who get up first wait for those who are slower. If
your abilities aren't too far apart it should not be a problem. I prefer
for everyone to climb at their own best pace. It gives the stronger
riders a challenge they may not feel on the flats in a moderate paceline,
and some bragging rights, but no one should feel pressured to climb beyond
their abilities or give up the ride. Usually, no one complains about a
re-grouping stop at the top of the hill.


Strong climbers can always push weaker riders up the hill.



Chris Neary


"Science, freedom, beauty, adventu what more could
you ask of life? Bicycling combined all the elements I
loved" - Adapted from a quotation by Charles Lindbergh
 




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