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You have probably seen cycling clubs out riding two abreast in a long line. It's not only because it gives you an opportunity to chat - It makes cycling easier!


Riding with other cyclists lets you share the effort with others....
  • Riding behind another cyclist requires only half the effort, as the rider in front is cutting through the air and the rider behind is in their 'wind shadow'.
  • Riding behind two riders further reduces your work to around 33%.

    By taking turns at the front, all riders can share the effort and longer distances can be covered.

  • Stronger riders can 'tow' the bunch by taking longer turns at the front.
  • Slower riders can be helped along by sitting in the bunch.
  • It is an efficient way of cycling but it requires a high degree of alertness!

    WATCH OUT - SHOUT UP!
    Riding in a bunch requires trust and some discipline... In a tight bunch of cyclists, only the rider(s) at the front have a clear view of the road ahead. Only they can see potholes, dog-walkers, approaching traffic and the like. Experienced cyclists communicate this with a running-commentary which is passed back along the bunch. Different clubs and areas have 'regional dialects' for some things but "Hole!" and "Stopping!" are fairly universal and self-explanatory.

    KEEP PEDALLING...
    Only slow when you feel that you are getting too close to the cyclist in front.
    If you stop pedalling or brake, you slow down! In a bunch this means that you 'drift' backwards into the cyclist behind. This means they have to slow down and so they drift back into the cyclist behind them who has to brake and...(well, you get the picture - a chain-reaction).

    HOW CLOSE?
    The closer you ride to the cyclist in front - the greater the aerodynamic advantage. Aim for about 1 - 3ft. A professional racing team will have only inches between them. However, this is where trust comes in; some riders inspire confidence and you may feel very secure sitting tight 'on their wheel'. Some riders with a more 'twitchy' style may not inspire such confidence and you may feel happier with a greater safety margin!

    STAY RELAXED
    When riding in the bunch, stay alert but relaxed. Hold your line - don't make any sudden changes of direction or speed that could cause other riders to tangle. It is not uncommon for elbows or handlebars to touch as you ride along - don't try to jerk away - just stay relaxed and keep riding, the other rider will be doing the same.

    DODGING THE SIDEWIND
    Cycling in a group can also help you to shelter from crosswinds. By riding behind and downwind, you are being sheltered from the front and the side. If the wind is coming from the left, position yourself behind and to the right to get most shelter. Watch the Tour de France and you will see the riders strung out in a long line across the road. They all position themselves for maximum shelter from the rider in front. Riders take a turn at the front then drift back into the shelter of the bunch leaving someone else to take over.

    Even if there are only two of you, you can still use these techniques. By sharing the effort or with a stronger rider 'towing', it is possible to travel further or faster than you would if you cycle apart.


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