With cycling season rapidly approaching and the fact that I was perusing Bicycling Magazine’s archives yesterday morning, I bumped into a neat, short video that talks about how long to pull up front when you’re in a group. I’ve only been riding in groups for one season now so while I know my way around, I still have a lot to learn about tactics – and tactics do matter in the non-leisure group rides.
My biggest problem is tailoring the pull to the group. While I am a decent cyclist, because I train alone so much I have a tendency to be a one speed fits all kind of guy and that doesn’t always work in a group dynamic – especially when you’re talking about a big group or a group of riders who are faster or slower.
Starting with the faster group because this is the easiest to deal with, you pull as long as you can without gassing yourself too much to latch on at the back. After your pull, we try to go a mile each unless we’re into the wind (it’s a half-mile or so in that case), you allow the group to speed passed, as you get to the back, you will have to speed up a bit to latch on at the back – miss this by more than 24-36 inches and you’ll be off the back – and fast. This may mean you take a shorter pull than the rest of the group, don’t sweat it, just give them your best.
If you’re riding with a group about equal your talent, then a mile or two at the front won’t be a problem, nor will latching back on. Take a decent pull while maintaining your speed. Watch yourself on climbs that you don’t go too aggressive, I’ve dropped entire groups without even knowing it on a decent climb. This may not seem like a big deal, but I had dropped all of my help. Climbs are meant to be a little slower, just know that if the folks behind you start passing, it’s time to pick it up a bit – but don’t, under any circumstances, time your pull so that you’re falling to the back on a decent climb. The likelihood that you’re too cooked to latch on increases greatly. Pull off before the climb or after (mountain riding is a whole different story).
If you’re riding with a group slower than you are – I ran into this on a couple of centuries last year – having a speedometer helps. Take a glance at the speed when you’re second from the front and maintain that for the duration of your pull. My comfort zone for a century pace is somewhere between 20 and 22 mph. I rode with a couple of 18-19 mph groups last year so I took three-mile long pulls at the front. A) Because I could and B) because I wanted the other guys to have an easier, enjoyable ride. If you don’t have a speedometer, I also use a Roadie mirror – it plugs into the bar at the end of the drop – to make sure the group is tight behind me and I’m not pushing too hard… You’ll see it in the face of the guy behind you, if he’s grimacing take it down a notch. I’ve been on the other end of this, riding behind a Cat 2 racer and he busted my butt on his pulls. He hurt me, and while I did enjoy the experience (at least until mile 85 or 90), most people aren’t the glutton for punishment that I am.
Pulling, at least to me, is about doing my level best to do my fair share while making it to the finish line.
I’ve linked to the sites that I pulled the following photos from – the Double Pace Line photo is taken from an excellent “How To” on beginner pace line riding. The second is good as well.
I’ve always dreamed, that if I ever had the opportunity, if I ever had the forum, I’d write a criticism on movie critics. When I was a child I would hear about what the critics said about the newest movies coming out on the news (yes, I watched the news as a kid). I learned early on that if the critics hated the movie, not only would it make a mint, it would be excellent. Before long, my friends and I would check to see which movies the critics hated and base our “to see” list simply on the movies they panned the most. Of course this method wasn’t without its flaws, every once in a while they were right and we’d end up blowing a few good dollars allowance on a flaming turd of a movie, so we learned to pay attention to the manner in which the movies were criticized. There were certain words that appeared in good movies that they hated that were absent in the bad movies that they hated.
In fact, our little hypothesis worked in reverse as well. The better the review, the worse the movie did and the more boring it was for a kid – now this part of the hypothesis was infallible, any five-star rated movie assured us of a few things: The movie would be obscure, might make a buck or two at the box office but would induce snoring should we be forced to sit through it.
Worse, my mom being the chauffeur, didn’t understand the hypothesis – she took the critics seriously. If I had a dollar and invested it for every time I heard (after sitting through yet another boringly crappy movie), “but the critics loved this movie, they said it was excellent”, I would be retired on my own tropical island – like Marco… Keep in mind, I’m 42.
There are a few things we normal people know about movie critics: They are/were quite possibly the most self-important, overrated, pampas people on the planet. While they have improved since I was a kid, they still drive me nuts.
Take the movie The Expendables, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The critics called it things like “excellent junk” or “dumb fun”. In the good old days they would review a movie like that as if it were some artsy Indie film (I can remember the reviews on Stallone’s Rambo: First Blood (also excellent by the way). In any event, The Expendables made $274,000,000 at the box office and cost only $80,000,000 to make – that’s what I call a good return on investment (Expendables 2 did even better). For a perfect example, we only need look back to Star Wars: A New Hope, from 1977. Read this review from the New York Times… The movie, in the box office alone, made Eight Hundred Million Dollars and turned out to be one of the most adored movies of all time (Next to The Empire Strike Back – though they were right about The Return Of The Jedi).
In short, the critics are often pampas, long-winded jackasses who wouldn’t know their ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to a great movie. This, of course, makes sense when you take into account their propensity to show off a silly high-priced education that was supposed to separate them from us, the little people. Well separate them it did:
Often it takes an intellectual to say something so stupid.