The sun was hitting my office funny late Monday morning. I made it to the office early so I could take some time to clean my bike after the weekend before work and thought it would make a neat picture as I was plunking away on my keyboard.
One might think I would grow tired with snapping photos of my bike. Not so! I liked that one enough to make it my new lock screen photo. Something intelligent about shadows, blah, blah, blah:
Thou Shalt Learn to Draft: How NOT to be seen as a Twatwaffle During an Advanced Club Ride. A Guide for Noobs.
When I ride with noobs to our group, I go out of my way to make sure they feel welcome and comfortable… Until they show me who they are. I know of only one person I will consciously run into the ground to drop. I will put myself so far into the red to drop this guy, my little brother, sitting at home 1,800 miles away in Florida, will feel the ache. He is known on this page as Time Trial Bike Guy. He is the very definition of a twatwaffle. I would have written a hole of the butt, but twatwaffle sounds a lot funnier. And TTBG deserves that.
The following is a list of things that, should you do them in an advanced club setting, will guarantee you’re riding alone after the weekend invites go out.
- Launch a snot rocket when you’re at the front of the group. Duh.
- Constantly leave gaps in the pace line because you don’t know when to shift or can’t shift because you’re riding a freaking time trial bike (electronic rigs have shifters on both the aerobars and next to the brake levers btw). If you can’t hold the wheel in front of you, you belong at the back. Getting others dropped because you can’t keep the draft is not a good way to win friends and influence people.
- You don’t pull all the way through when you get to the front of the group. What this means is, as soon as the person in front of you taps out, you (being next in line to pull) tap out and drop to the back with the person in front. What this shows everyone around you is that you expect to be pulled around by the group but not only are you not willing to do your part, you don’t care if you screw everyone else behind you. You shouldn’t be surprised if nobody wants you to ride with them… who would want to ride with a person when there is literally no benefit to having them there?
- Don’t hold a decent line. If you can’t hold a decent line the people behind you can’t get a good draft because they’re too busy trying to keep you from crashing them. If they can’t get a good draft you make yourself useless. Literally. Useless.
- Disrupt the general awesomeness of a ten-person-deep double pace line with your lousy riding. One poor rider making mistake after mistake can make a group of twenty people who ride three times a week together look like a bunch of noobs.
- Pull back on your bike when you stand on your pedals to adjust your ass whilst, and at the same time, going uphill… in the middle of the pace line. You don’t know it, because you’re dim, but your bike drifts back about eight inches when you pull back on the bike to stand. Stand and adjust when you get to the back or, if you absolutely can’t wait, accelerate just a bit before you stand… Otherwise, everyone behind you has a heart attack because their 20 cm buffer just became 3 mm. As a reaction, everyone has to grab a handful of brakes and you’ve unwittingly put everyone at risk of an accident.
- Stop pedaling to take your water bottle out of its cage. Dude, you can only get away with that at the back. Do everyone you’ll ever ride with a favor, learn to remove the bidon (H2O bottle) whilst, and at the same time, pedaling. It is not impossible.
- Stop pedaling at the front of the group (I did this once, just once, and almost wiped out six of my best friends). Don’t. FREAKING. Do. It. Put your hand out to signal you’re slowing.
- Speaking of hand signals, know yours. They vary by location, so to detail them here would be futile. For instance, a left arm flick can mean “I’m out, come up on the left of me, or “I’m out, and exiting on the left”, all depending on the Town/City/State/Province you ride.
- UPDATE: From The Tempo Cyclist: Don’t pull too long at the front. It’s a club ride, dude. You’re not the lead out for Mark Cavendish… Know when you’re done and get your butt to the back to recover.
- The main theme of ALL of these bulletpoints is simple: Think of the others you’re riding with. If you don’t, or worse, won’t, you’re not worth having around. Or worse, you’re dangerous to have around.
Consider this: At just 25 mph, you will travel almost 40 feet in one second. In a tight group, there will be less than a foot between your rear wheel and their front wheel. You travel that gap in one fortieth of one second. There is no room, literally, for a member of the group to disregard safe riding practices.