Chaing gang advice...

rokkala
rokkala Posts: 649
edited June 2009 in Road beginners
Hi there, just about to join a chain gang in a week or so that has over 20 riders each week. Was wanting some advice for riding in a group. I've done a bit of group riding in a double century i did a few weeks ago but still have a few questions.

1) Not planning on being at the front of the group on first time out but you never know so, if i end up on the front and take a shot, when i tire and want to go back into the line, do you just ease to the right and ease down slightly until you are right at the back of the group? Is it ever good form/practical to join in the group not right at the bike?

2) If we have 2 lines riding side by side, and I was at the front of the line of riders on the inside(beside the road edge), how do you possibly get off the front without causing mayhem, as cant just accelerate and pull right round the guy at the front of line next to me?

:S

Thanks!
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Comments

  • softlad
    softlad Posts: 3,513
    Rokkala wrote:
    Hi there, just about to join a chain gang in a week or so that has over 20 riders each week. Was wanting some advice for riding in a group. I've done a bit of group riding in a double century i did a few weeks ago but still have a few questions.

    1) Not planning on being at the front of the group on first time out but you never know so, if i end up on the front and take a shot, when i tire and want to go back into the line, do you just ease to the right and ease down slightly until you are right at the back of the group? Is it ever good form/practical to join in the group not right at the bike?

    2) If we have 2 lines riding side by side, and I was at the front of the line of riders on the inside(beside the road edge), how do you possibly get off the front without causing mayhem, as cant just accelerate and pull right round the guy at the front of line next to me?

    :S

    Thanks!

    'chain gang' means 'through and off'. You do not stay on the front until you tire - you reach the front and then move over immediately in order to let someone else through - hence the reason why there are always two lines of riders parallel - one line moving up, the other moving down....
  • Google on "belgian tourniquet" (great name for a band)
  • Tom Butcher
    Tom Butcher Posts: 3,830
    Depends how they run it - I'd ask first and tell them you are new.

    If it is proper through and off do as Softlad says - just move up in the line as it moves up and when the rider in front of you pulls over into the other line just keep your pace the same - do not sprint through - then when you are clear of the rider who was in front of you and is now to your side just start to drift across in front of him and ease off very gradually. This will allow the person who was behind you to come past you without him increasing his speed.

    Just remember they'll all be pretty experienced and nobody is going to do anything silly so relax and stay off the brakes - the only touches of wheels I've seen on a chain gang have been going up hill when someone stands and lets their back wheel slip backwards relative to the guy behind - try and avoid doing that but beware that others may do it to you so if you come to a hill just sit 6 inches to the side of the guy in front or at least not too close behind him.

    it's a hard life if you don't weaken.
  • rokkala
    rokkala Posts: 649
    Cheers for that, good to know! Not sure they operate it as a 'proper' chain gang then, as the email i had from one of the guys who organises it says its good for ur fitness, whether your a guy driving it at the front or hanging in at the back, guess ill find out on the night!

    Excuse my naivety, but if it was a 'belgian tourniquette' style group, if the group hits a hill of gradients over 15%, which they do on this route, is it even possible or desirable to do that? or do people hold station until the top?
  • Tom Butcher
    Tom Butcher Posts: 3,830
    I think different training rides will vary - I imagine that when it hits the hill some riders will be hanging on the back and stronger riders will just ride tempo on the front - expect a few to get shelled out along the way. Some chain gangs are more like an informal race with people attacking though so best thing to do is ask, watch and do as they do.

    it's a hard life if you don't weaken.
  • I started doing the local chain gang here and my advice would be to hang in somewhere in the middle and not get near the back or you might get pinged out the back when the accelerations happen. Hang onto the wheel in front as if your life depended on it.
  • rokkala
    rokkala Posts: 649
    Ta for the advice, yea think ill try and stay near-ish the front/middle so if i struggle on a hill ill *hopefully* just fall to the back rather than falling right out!
  • softlad
    softlad Posts: 3,513
    I started doing the local chain gang here and my advice would be to hang in somewhere in the middle and not get near the back or you might get pinged out the back when the accelerations happen. Hang onto the wheel in front as if your life depended on it.

    it's not possible to remain in the middle of a chain gang without creating some kind of havoc for everyone else. You are either part of the chain - or you are out the back......
  • a_n_t
    a_n_t Posts: 2,011
    ^^^^^ what he said, except you can sit on the back without causing any problems.
    Manchester wheelers

    PB's
    10m 20:21 2014
    25m 53:18 20:13
    50m 1:57:12 2013
    100m Yeah right.
  • Hi sorry new to this, when on a chain gang which is quite clear except how long do you stay at the front? or is it a cse of getting to the front, a few turns of the crank and then slip back?

    Thanks :roll:
  • softlad
    softlad Posts: 3,513
    Hi sorry new to this, when on a chain gang which is quite clear except how long do you stay at the front? or is it a cse of getting to the front, a few turns of the crank and then slip back?

    Thanks :roll:

    did you read the thread..?
  • Puzzler
    Puzzler Posts: 73
    You don't have to take a turn at the front and you can sit in the middle if you want.
    in a group of varied abilities you'll find that the strong guys will stay at the front and take turns keeping the pace up, the slower riders will just sit in behind these. If the ride leaders know what they're doing they will not expect slower riders to take turns at the front as it will probably affect the pace and also it will send you into the red and you'll pay for it later in the ride.
    If they don't like it, go elsewhere. A good group certainly won't wait for you but they may have stopping points along the route where anyone who's dropped off have a chance to get back on, this may be at the top of a climb for example.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous Posts: 79,667
    No, don't sit in the middle!!!

    If you aren't taking turns, stay at the back.

    This has already been mentioned...
  • Puzzler
    Puzzler Posts: 73
    Yes, you can sit in the middle, you can't all sit at the back as only one person can technically be at the back!
    Like I said, if for example there are ten riders, four fast guys and six middle markers, the fast guys may take turns setting the pace and the others will sit behind these.
    By the law of mathematics some of those slower guys will therefore be in the middle.
    Simples!
  • markos1963
    markos1963 Posts: 3,724
    Puzzler wrote:
    Yes, you can sit in the middle, you can't all sit at the back as only one person can technically be at the back!
    Like I said, if for example there are ten riders, four fast guys and six middle markers, the fast guys may take turns setting the pace and the others will sit behind these.
    By the law of mathematics some of those slower guys will therefore be in the middle.
    Simples!

    I understand your point but what the point of going on a chain gang to sit in the middle or at the back. You join one to improve your speed. I would say if its early days in your riding then just stay a few seconds on the front and then peel off, if the leader knows you're new he won't mind and will be impressed you gave it a go on the front. When I go on one I expect to be dropped eventually but each time I go I get a bit further and faster and I don't spoil it for the others by asking for them to hold up for me.
  • PBo
    PBo Posts: 2,493
    guys,

    I'm new to this - but reading the thread with fresh eyes it looks like there are two different ideas at cross purposes - hence conflicting advice being given.

    some of you are discussing the belgian tourniquet - as mentioned - and is the very rigid structure with everyone taking their turn in the prescribed way.

    others seem to be discussing a looser group riding concept, with no set structure, but riders leading or drafting according to ability, politeness, strength, laziness etc.

    seems to me that the phrase "chain gang" should really only apply to the former, but is commonly used to describe all cooperative group rides.

    this is my interpretation of what i've read - here and elsewhere, - and I've only posted to try and explain why I think OP is getting conflicting advice....could well be wrong!!!!!

    (or, OP is getting conflicting advice because there would be no use for forums if we all agreed on everything! :lol: )

    PBo
  • Puzzler
    Puzzler Posts: 73
    You don't have to ride at the front to improve your speed.
    If you raced regularly would you only improve if you rode at the front every so often?

    If you keep getting dropped each time you go on the chaingang and you keep taking turns at the front, then it may be time to think why?
    If you sit in and last the whole ride, you may have done a good 60-90mins at 20+ mph, a good workout and week in week out you will get faster and stronger, much better than only lasting 20mins before you drop off, shattered at trying to take turns at the front.
    The guys would be far more impressed if at the end of a good ride you're still there at the finish rather than you dropping off every week because you keep killing yourself at the front.
  • markos1963
    markos1963 Posts: 3,724
    Puzzler wrote:
    You don't have to ride at the front to improve your speed.
    If you raced regularly would you only improve if you rode at the front every so often?

    If you keep getting dropped each time you go on the chaingang and you keep taking turns at the front, then it may be time to think why?
    If you sit in and last the whole ride, you may have done a good 60-90mins at 20+ mph, a good workout and week in week out you will get faster and stronger, much better than only lasting 20mins before you drop off, shattered at trying to take turns at the front.
    The guys would be far more impressed if at the end of a good ride you're still there at the finish rather than you dropping off every week because you keep killing yourself at the front.

    Its a fools effort though, if you sit in the pack then you are using 30% less energy and so you could get the same result going out and doing the distance at an average 18mph. It might be good for bolstering the ego to finish with the gang but I would like to do it having contributed to it. As I said, every time I get further on the gang before being dropped, I don't get disheartened I already knew my limitations, perhaps I'm more prepared to keep pushing myself even if I do get a kicking. If its a race then its completly different, the aim then IS to conserve energy and sit in the pack.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous Posts: 79,667
    At the moment I'm taking turns at the front until I'm spent but have enough left to hang on the back.

    Working well for me!
  • markos1963
    markos1963 Posts: 3,724
    NapoleonD wrote:
    At the moment I'm taking turns at the front until I'm spent but have enough left to hang on the back.

    Working well for me!

    Have to say I'm almost there doing that, you don't have to spend too long and its not too hard if you don't stay for too long. The other plus point is that your bike handling skills improve no end, with signals and calls being even more important at the higher speeds and the close proximity of the other riders.
  • Tom Butcher
    Tom Butcher Posts: 3,830
    As PBo says it really depends on the ride etiquette. If you came out on our chain gang and tried to sit in the middle you'd get told not to - end of - because we have 2 lines going through and off and someone who tries to sit in the middle of that ruins it for everyone else. The same would go for someone who tried to hammer away on the front on their own or worse moved over but didn't ease up. We aren't rigid - if someone wants to attack on the hill or late on in the ride then they do - and we have a sprint at the end - but I've found it's far preferable to have some proper structure than a free for all.

    If you chose to sit on the back nobody would mind but if you made it all the way round people would wonder why you couldn't take a turn - it certainly wouldn't impress anyone not that that should be a reason for going out training anyway. On a good chain gang it's actually no harder to do through and off than be constantly fighting for fresh wheels at the back anyway.

    it's a hard life if you don't weaken.
  • sheffsimon
    sheffsimon Posts: 1,282
    Puzzler wrote:
    You don't have to ride at the front to improve your speed.
    If you raced regularly would you only improve if you rode at the front every so often?

    If you keep getting dropped each time you go on the chaingang and you keep taking turns at the front, then it may be time to think why?
    If you sit in and last the whole ride, you may have done a good 60-90mins at 20+ mph, a good workout and week in week out you will get faster and stronger, much better than only lasting 20mins before you drop off, shattered at trying to take turns at the front.
    The guys would be far more impressed if at the end of a good ride you're still there at the finish rather than you dropping off every week because you keep killing yourself at the front.

    TBH "the guys" wont give a toss what you have or havent do, they will be more concerned with their own efforts.

    If its a proper chain gang, thru and off, you go thru until you cant hang on any longer, then ride home by yourself. Much better training than sitting at the back, which by the way can be a pain in the arse cos nobody knows if you are going to go thru or not and it breaks up the rhythm.

    Stressing the body, then recovering/adapting leads to improvements, not sat in at 20mph.
  • Puzzler
    Puzzler Posts: 73
    Think it just goes to show that there are many different types of chaingang in terms of speed and expectations.
    My local club has a wide range of abilities turning up for the chaingang, from the 20min 10tt riders upto the 28min 10tt riders, a big difference in abilities.
    In that instance, the slower guys would really struggle to get to the front to take a turn but they get a good workout by working at a much higher pace than is normal for them.
    Horses for courses maybe.
  • softlad
    softlad Posts: 3,513
    Puzzler wrote:
    Think it just goes to show that there are many different types of chaingang in terms of speed and expectations.
    My local club has a wide range of abilities turning up for the chaingang, from the 20min 10tt riders upto the 28min 10tt riders, a big difference in abilities.
    In that instance, the slower guys would really struggle to get to the front to take a turn but they get a good workout by working at a much higher pace than is normal for them.
    Horses for courses maybe.

    you are talking about training rides - not chain gangs.
  • Puzzler
    Puzzler Posts: 73
    No I am not
  • softlad
    softlad Posts: 3,513
    Puzzler wrote:
    No I am not

    fine - ignorance is bliss.....
  • Puzzler
    Puzzler Posts: 73
    You obviously know best mate.
    Good for you.
  • Tom Butcher
    Tom Butcher Posts: 3,830
    It's a question of what you call it really isn't it - people tend to call any fast midweek training ride a chain gang - personally I don't think it really matters but give me through and off any time it just works that much better and you learn so much more about how to ride in a group. What you'd probably find Puzzler is if your lot did through and off "getting to the front" wouldn't be an issue because you move up on someone's wheel and you only do enough to clear the rider next to you and move over - so people don't fear getting to the front and being stuck there and blowing up. You end up with a faster more even pace.

    it's a hard life if you don't weaken.
  • softlad
    softlad Posts: 3,513
    Puzzler wrote:
    You obviously know best mate.
    Good for you.

    not a question of 'knowing best' though, is it. ...

    The simple fact is that what you are describing is not a chaingang - it's a training ride. You only have to read the rest of the thread to understand that....
  • Garry H
    Garry H Posts: 6,639
    softlad wrote:
    Puzzler wrote:
    You obviously know best mate.
    Good for you.

    not a question of 'knowing best' though, is it. ...

    The simple fact is that what you are describing is not a chaingang - it's a training ride. You only have to read the rest of the thread to understand that....

    What's the difference? Surely, unless you're in a race, you're training. Why else go on a chaingang?