Tuesday Coffee Talk - Drafting Etiquette

Tuesday Coffee Talk is a chance for use to share, vent and discuss topics related to our community

Most of use have had this type of experience, you're out riding the roads, maybe alone, maybe with a friend and you come up on another person or group and "latch on" in their draft. Maybe with no intent of staying there for the entire ride but at least for a minute or 2. Then it happens, the rider you are drafting on slows down, way down, or they tap their brakes, ride all over the road, do a farmers blow.... you get the picture. The first time this happen to me I was riding in a community ride (Iron Horse) and started drafting a random person, once they noticed me they started to ride all over the road and then asked me not to draft. I was so shocked I didn't know what to say back but I thought, "YOU ARE ON A COMMUNITY RIDE BUDDY".

But some don't feel comfortable drafting, maybe sometimes it is technical skills and sometimes they just want to ride in a bubble with their ipod and not be bothered with anything that goes on in the world or have to enter someone else's bubble. Most of the time if I ride up on a person or group I usually ask if I can set in (but not always).

So what the deal here folks? How should one ride up and draft off of another rider? Or on the flips side, if you don't feel comfortable with someone drafting off of you, how can you tell the rider to ride on by?

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22 Comments

Only Draft the known

There is drafting, and there is riding with someone. I never draft someone I do not know. I often meet and ride with new people when I go out for a ride, I ride with them, close enough to chat only. I feel if I am out for a ride on my own I should be able to power the miles on my own, and not depend on someone else for a draft. I will only draft, and do rotating pacelines, with experienced riders whom I know, and they know me. Then it is a joy. And yes, I have told someone to get off my wheel during an event ride because they were crossing my back wheel without saying a word, even though they were at greater risk, I think it is rude and endangering. It is so easy to communicate while riding, it is as if we forget we can hear each other. If you can't speak up and start a nice conversation first, then ride your own bike. I'd rather have someone ride next to me than grab me wheel and stay there silently.

good info

I'd just like to add that I'm enjoying all of the perspectives on this. I'm fairly new to road riding and have been on both ends. I was dropped from a fast group a few months ago and was beat after 40 miles on my own. A casual group of riders passed me and I was relieved to catch the draft to help me home. Another time I was doing some intervals last fall out on Nelson and when I passed a guy he jumped on my wheel without any announcement. He got the idea when my interval was over. I can understand both sides of the coin, and to each his own. My perspective: make your intentions known and just don't get bent out of shape if the other person isn't okay with it. Smile and move on.

Easy answer

First of all, I find I seldom want to sit on the back of riders I have caught from behind, I just keep going past the slower riders. Mostly, it's when I get passed and hope to grab passage on the train. I always ask if it's ok to jump ON (sit on the back). If it seems to be a good fit I might also ask if it's OK to jump IN (get in the paceline itself). Occasionally I get a no and that's fine, people have their styles and they are free to choose. Just because we're on the same road at the same time doesn't mean we need to synch up our riding.

You talking to me??

Next time you're walking down the Pearl St mall or 16th St mall, pick out a random stranger and follow them for awhile, just far enough behind them that you don't bump or trip them. Get really close, but don't say a word.

See how well that goes over.

Don't care one way or another

I ride most mornings during the week and a long ride on Mondays. Because I ride when most do not it is hard to get a group ride so someone sitting in is OK. When someone gets on my wheel, it makes me concentrate on what I am doing instead of having an OCD Squirrel! moment. If I come up on an individual, I will sit on for a moment and then pass when it is OK. Sometimes they speed up and try to drop me, sometimes a conversation starts and we ride together until we head on in a different direction, but never has anyone told me not to draft.
Here in Co and AZ I have sat in on a few "pro's" and as long as I kept up and took a turn or two it was fine.

For the most part it doesn't

For the most part it doesn't bother me unless the drafting occurs during the following:

- I pass a couple out for a nice weekend ride. The guy drops his significant other to latch onto my wheel to huff and puff for the next mile or two, sprints past me to some unknown point and then drops back to ride with his significant other again.

I am not sure if he's trying to impress or piss off his spouse, but it's rather annoying and has happened on more than one occasion.

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