I have said it, and I see that others are posting articles or info about it. The problem is maybe too many people are taking it too far.
Do not ride on the front should not be confused with NEVER ride at the front.
Too many people seem to just sit-in – on ever ride, year around. Bah!
Too many people never do any work – whether they are afraid they will get dropped, feel they aren’t strong enough.
Sometimes you need to move, do something, stir things up. Sometimes that is for the group & sometimes that is just for yourself & your training.
It’s interesting how the group dynamic of a ride can change – week to week and sometimes during a single ride.
Not long ago, at the ‘Wednesday night World’s’ the group was being shy. There were only a few people rotating & it was often that if you rotated you would have to sit on the front for awhile before someone else would come around.
What happens next is that the stronger riders and/or opportunists attacks the group. Sometimes this is enough to stir things up, sometimes the ride will continue along in the same manner watching that person increase the gap until they are ‘out of sight, out of mind’. As this keeps happening all the stronger riders & some opportunists are ahead on the road and there isn’t enough people strong enough or willing to work to bring them back.
I watched this happen a couple times and tried to shake things up myself by rolling past the group on a downhill and along the uphill on the other side – what this caused was the group finally sped up and started getting more aggressive.
Remember, “Don’t ride on the front” is different from “Never ride on the Front” there are good reasons to rotate and pull-through, and there are good reasons not too. Sometimes the group is hammering along and you should conserve your energy for later. Sometimes you should rotate just to get others to rotate also, sometimes it is to keep the group going.
One of the best ‘team blocks’ I had ever witnessed was by Scotty Weiss – we were racing a 1Km pan flat crit in N.C. His team mate jumped the pack with another racer and they were rolling up the road – well most team mates would go to the front and soft pedal or not even pedal at all – but not these guys, Scotty went to the front and kept the field going at a steady pace. He knew if the group slowed down too much there would be attacks and his team mate would have less chance of winning the race. So, he kept the pace slow enough that his teammate was still going faster than the group, yet just fast enough that no one would attempt to attack the group! At that time I was a fresh Pro1,2 rider and at first I was bewildered that his own team mate was on the front doing the pace-making. It took me about 5 laps before I realized the plan.
Most everyone knows the basic tactics, but when you can mix things up that is when you are racing intelligently!
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A situation that has been addressed around the Atlanta area is cyclists ‘blowing through’ stop signs. I think what the motorists don’t realize is that the front cyclists slow down and check traffic and that the group goes through the stop sign as a whole. Although it is not legal, it is to most motorists advantage to get this group of cyclists out of their way faster.
I was out on a metro-Atlanta road and came upon a construction area that was single file. Before moving into the next lane, I looked over my shoulder and saw that over 100 feet back there was a car approaching. So I went from a leisure training ride into putting in a solid effort to rush through this construction zone.
After getting through it the car behind would not pass, and now I noticed that there were 4 cars that had backed up behind this 1 motorists. So, again, I pedaled in earnest up to the stop sign, slowed nearly to a stop, checked both directions and made my right hand turn.
Then about 200 yards up this road, a pickup truck pulls up next to me and starts yelling ‘if you want to be taken seriously as traffic, then obey the stop signs’, and of course sped off before I could reply.
Here I was trying to stay out of the way, not get hit and help the flow of traffic, and I got yelled at anyway.
What I don’t think most motorists realize is that cyclists do not want a car following behind them just as much as most motorists don’t want to have to drive behind a cyclist.
Another thing that motorists don’t realize is that historically those stop signs are there to regulate speed, not right of way;
Now, since only elite cyclists average over 22 mph – whose speed are they trying to regulate?
Here is a great video that explains the reasons why most cyclists do not stop at stop signs.
I agree with what the video says, cyclists are ‘usually’ more cautious around other motorists because we realize how distracted motorists are these days. Also, in an accident between an automobile & a bicycle, a cyclist realizes he has the most to loose.
What I would add that cyclists yielding to stop signs allows for better flow of traffic for everyone on the roads.
Something that I try to keep in mind is that motorists hate anyone else using the roadways, especially if it slows them down.
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posted on August 12th, 2010 in Cycling by Stephen
I have an internal debate about helmets. I don’t particularly care for them, maybe it IS the coolness factor, maybe it is about feeling more like a kid. I do like the idea of protection for what I have as a cranium…. is it a false hope?
I’ve done many easy rides with out a helmet. I’ve done some Long Slow Distance group rides with out a helmet. If I’m slowly climbing a mountain on a hot day, I may take off my helmet. If it was just me by myself out on the road, I would probably do just what I did for many miles as a kid – not wear a helmet. But the truth is I often wear a helmet because of the unknown actions of others around me. Whether that is squirrels, kids, cars, joggers, or other cyclists.
I ALWAYS wear a helmet when doing a fast paced group ride. However, I have recently seen someone forget a helmet before and they just sat at the back of the group. Not having a helmet on the ride make me more cautious around other riders. If I had my helmet I would have ridden in the pack, therefore riding more aggressively amongst other cyclists.
Here is an oddity: In South Carolina you can ride a motorcycle with out a helmet; but you will get a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt.
I’ve crashed a couple times & ‘saving Face’ took priority. Would not wearing a helmet during a low speed crash prevent an head injury any more than the person’s natural instinct of preservation to not hit head first?
I will still be wearing my helmet the same as I have done before. But an interesting point of the article was that motorists act differently around cyclists that are not wearing a helmet – why?! But is that a false sense of security? Think about that and read this article.
Are bicycle helmets the cyclist’s talisman?
Aug 11th, 2010 by elliott.
The Mom mentality of protecting you from the world. Are helmets the same?
Should you wear a bike helmet every time you ride or not? The helmet debates have been ranging in the cycling community for years and seem to be as entrenched and as bitter as the Israelis and the Arabs. One side says helmets save lives and make us safer. The other says the science behind the safety of helmets is dubious and point to mandatory helmet laws as a cause for reducing the number of people cycling, either by creating the idea that cycling is dangerous or simply creating an equipment barrier to entry. Personally, I usually wear a helmet but have to conceded that in the countries with majority culture acceptance of bicycles as transportation helmets are a rarity yet there is no epidemic of brain injury.
Recently, Tom Vanderbilt, the author of Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), recently hosted a guest post on his blog from British researcher Ian Walker. Walker made waves a few years ago with a research study that looked at interaction of cars and cyclists on the roads of England (as European countries go, a much more car dominated country like the U.S.) His findings were shocking in that he found cars tended to give less room to and behave less carefully around cyclists wearing helmets. In his guest post, he expands on this by looking at probabilities when thinking about what really makes you safest on the road and in life. After questioning the ability of a helmet to save your life in a crash involving 2 tons of steel at high speed, he makes the simple point that your chances of dying from a bicycle accident are infinitesimally small compared to the more than 50-50 chance you will die from heart disease and cancer. Yet the focus of our fear is on the unlikely here and now instead of the very likely off in the future.
Walker muses on the idea that from the cyclists point of view avoiding an accident is far more important that what you are wearing. This is a far different way of looking at safety than with the automobile where you have lots of material designed to protect you. In a car, crashes at 20-30 mph are not that uncommon and most people survive these with little in the form of personal injury. Yet that same crash with a bicycle can be fatal. Walker suggests that when you wear a helmet, it gives you a sense of safety that means you take more risks. Add to that the research he did about how motorists react to you, and you could be looking at a greater chance of being involved in a crash simply by strapping that lid on.
The focus on bicycle safety in this country has been on wrapping the rider in protective garb for the inevitable crash (a policy that sells an awful lot of widgets by the way.) Go down the aisle of children’s bike equipment, and you’ll see gloves, knee pads, and elbow pads sold with most helmets. As a species, these physical totems give us comfort when confronting the fear in front of us. In the most American of sentiments, “If I just have the stuff, I’ll be OK.” It’s psychologically easier to hand over our fear to an object than confront it and make a rational choice.
As one local bike advocate likes to say, “Stop assigning magical qualities to styrofoam.” While our current helmet-focused safety policy makes us feel good and helps the balance sheets of some companies, it is doing little to actually put more people on bikes and get them where they need to go safely. Good infrastructure, not the latest helmet, is what we need. Bike paths and bike priority streets will do far more to reduce injury and death. When you elevate the bicycle to an equal footing in importance on the road to the automobile that will change the way motorists view the bicycle. Plus more people will use bicycles to get from A to B increasing the likelihood that that driver is also a cyclists. All of these things reduce the likelihood of crash.
As Walker says, avoiding the crash is the most important part of avoiding injury and death. Kind of a simple concept. Think we can get it?
Here is the direct link to the article on helmet usage
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