Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Bike Practice

I spent a fair amount of time getting half-wheeled this weekend by multiple people. For those not in the know, half-wheeling is when one rider is riding a pace just fast enough to stay a half wheel in front of the rider next to them. It is probably the biggest no-no in group etiquette.

Typically the rider doing the half-wheeling is riding to hard, trying to prove how strong they are. Which brings me to the bike practice bit. I spend every ride trying to put out as little effort as possible. If the person next to me can't ride as fast as me, I slow down to match their speed. Any energy I save just allows me to ride harder later on in the ride when it matters. By practicing this on every ride, I'm training myself to be as efficient as possible on race day. If you don't practice it on every ride, you won't miraculously know how to do it come race day. It's just as important to practice technique as it is to train with intervals.

I often hear from the half-wheeler that they need to get a "hard day of training in" and that's their excuse for pushing the pace. But this activity usually takes place within the first 20-30% of a ride when everyone has fresh legs. You should be riding your hardest in the last 20% off your ride. Chill out during the first part of the ride, build some fatigue into your legs, it will get plenty hard soon enough.


RD said...

why that one guy wearing red? it's cadel evans isn't ?

greasyknuckles said...

Never mind that half wheeling business, thus past weekend in lincoln we had a group ride on Sunday, with no leader, and this one wack a do was swerving from gravel ditch to gravel ditch, off the road and back and then finally wrecked in a sad heap of tangled bike body mess. What a dumass....

brady said...

Apparently, being half-wheeled is a bike-etiquette OCD for which handfuls of Prozac cannot even alleviate.

Thing is, 'til now at least, I wasn't even aware that I was doing that to others. I certainly wasn't trying to half-wheel you or anybody to prove how strong I am. In fact, without very many long rides this season, I'm weak & believe that I needed to take some longer efforts up front.

So while I was be-bopping & skiddadling to my plan I was apparently also half-wheeling you. Oops. Um, sorry? to do that. Didn't mean to touch off any of your issues, you silly nut job.

I hope you find something to quell your aganst. Peace, dude!

As always, good riding with you, buddy!

speedomodel said...

I'll admit it, I'm guilty of half-assing off the back of the pack. ;)

Shim said...

Now boys play nice and leave the nasty insults to me.

jxw said...

So if the group is set up in an echelon or echelons, is everyone half-wheeling? Or would that be 1/4 wheeling?

MOD 2.0 said...

jxw, at that point the group would be constantly rotating so it wouldn't be an issue. However, in that situation after you pull through, you should ease off the pedals so the next person pulling through does not have to increase their speed to pull through.

People that half-wheel typically have the tendency to speed up when they pull through in an echelon (to assert their superior level of fitness). In that situation the pace is always increasing, gaps will open up and the entire group will be blown apart.

Scott Redd said...

I'm a total n00b here, but what's the problem with the half-wheel if you're both going the same speed?

It would seem natural, and unavoidable to me that when any two people are riding side by side that there will always be some disparities between their absolute speeds, but that the average would be the same.

Just trying to understand.

MOD 2.0 said...

Scott, If is was unavoidable then why would any of us ride together? If none of us can ride the same speed as the other, group rides would be pointless. The skill is being able TO ride the same speed as someone else, and work together in doing so for mutual benefit. Weather it's getting to the finish line faster or just arriving to our destination quicker so we can grab a beer and enjoy the post ride.

It really comes down to what's happening behind. When the group isn't tightly packed the draft advantage of the group is compromised and everyone is forced to work harder than they need to and that makes people tire sooner. It is also human nature that will make the person getting half wheeled to try to draw even, in which case the pace increases and the group is eventually blown apart.

Also, if you've ever tried to talk to someone who's a half wheel in front of you into a headwind it's near impossible. It's basically gentlemanly etiquette. If you want to ride a half wheel or half bike in front of me, go ride by yourself. If you want to ride with me, ride with me.

Marc said...

The only time you wouldn't want to half wheel someone is at a social ride. When you're just riding along wanting to talk. A social ride is different than a ride with a bunch of guys who bike race or want to bike race.

As a bike racer, riding side by side isn't an issue. I've never been in a race where you would want to ride side by side to get to the finish faster. It's always a rotating paceline.

If you start slow in a race and think everyone else is going to do the same, you loose. Races are fast,easy,fast. Train that way. The only time you would want to pace is in a time trial.

I just let the person go up the road if he wants to ride this way. You don't have to follow. You can always swing off and go to the back and draft. If people decide to follow and you don't then you're stuck by yourself. Group rides are not structured.

I always have consideration to this thought of so called "etiquette". If I want a harder workout I'll do it off the back.

The best possible solution is rotating pacelines. This is where structure and rules would benefit the group.

RD said...

instead of "here will always be some disparities between their absolute speeds"
you should say effort
if we are riding side by side the speed is should be the same the effort might or might not be

Scott Redd said...

Please don't take me the wrong way. I'm not advocating this practice. Just trying to understand.

I have virtually no non-social group ride experience, so I don't understand the hive mentality that helps one, and the group, ride so tightly to preserve energy until it's needed.

Perhaps I'm too literal when I think about wheels perfectly in alignment. I think about how if one guy stops pedaling, even for a second, then the next guy gets ahead. Then the first guys turns the cranks a little and overtakes, and the second guy then overtakes just trying to catch up.

Or if one guy has tires that drag more than the second guy, and during a descent the second guy pulls ahead. Should he brake so as not to pull ahead?

Maybe I'm over thinking this.

Maybe I coast too much.

Shim said...

Scott, why don't you come out and ride with us at lunch, I'd be glad to help you understand in a practical setting.