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What is your chosen way to move up in the bunch?

ongejongej Posts: 118
edited March 2014 in Amateur race
I need some advise as to how to move around inside a bunch in a race (crits mainly), in particular moving forwards to good positions (my current "talent" for moving within the bunch is backwards!). Everyone says that its best staying at the front 1/3, which is all good and well, provided you can get and stay there in the first place.

The effective way (for me) to get to the front part is to semi-sprint from the side of the bunch to near the front, but that is pretty tiring, and sometimes (esp at the latter part of the race), I cannot get back in, or do not know how!

So I find myself stuck at the side of the bunch with no one in front to draft, expending precious energy being at the front 1/3. The result is I sometimes sprint a bit to get to the front, but now I am *at* the front instead of near the front... then after my turn is done, again, not sure how to join back into the front riders again...

I think I can slowly work my way forwards within the bunch, but it takes quite a long time to wait for gaps to open up to quickly slip into.. I once saw some over-eager youngster muscle his way through within the bunch to move up, slipping into really small gaps and basically elbowing/shouldering riders beside him out of the way... I don't think I can do that without being dangerous!

So, what is your favourite way of moving up the bunch to get a nice position? And how do you keep it, if at all possible?

Posts

  • 0503_hornster_660-640x480.jpg

    /not helpful ...
  • ongejongej Posts: 118
    :mrgreen: I think the horns being in the opposite direction would help in the final sprint! Do you think the bike is UCI legal?
  • marykamaryka Posts: 746
    Watch riders who are good at it and emulate what they do. Hopefully a teammate who can then give you some tips afterwards. Some people read the race and the bunch much better than others and effortlessly glide up and down the group, usually those who have raced in very large bunches from a young age (Irish ex-juniors in my experience seem to have the knack).

    What you shouldn't do though... move up the side then frantically indicate with your hand that you want to be let in 3 wheels from the front. It's a race, not a clubrun, nobody is obligated to let you in, and especially not in front of their hard-earned spot in the line. And if it's a road race and there's an oncoming car, you will have to drop back or be killed if you try that move whilst riding on the wrong side of the dotted white line -- people don't appreciate idiots who sail up the side then want to push them out of the way so they can squeeze in before traffic passes.

    What you should do when you get to where you want to be is HOLD the wheel in front and don't let gaps open up so other riders will squeeze in front of you. You can be assertive without being aggressive. But if you start hesitating and letting gaps open up, someone with bigger [email protected] than you will almost surely take the opportunity to push in front. Do it often and there you are at the back again.
  • jibberjimjibberjim Posts: 2,810
    One thing to remember though if you do find yourself on the front, is that you're not "doing your turn" you're just riding along and now at the front. wait for a person or two to come past and then keep riding...
    Jibbering Sports Stuff: http://jibbering.com/sports/
  • HerzogHerzog Posts: 197
    maryka wrote:
    Watch riders who are good at it and emulate what they do. Hopefully a teammate who can then give you some tips afterwards. Some people read the race and the bunch much better than others and effortlessly glide up and down the group, usually those who have raced in very large bunches from a young age (Irish ex-juniors in my experience seem to have the knack).

    What you shouldn't do though... move up the side then frantically indicate with your hand that you want to be let in 3 wheels from the front. It's a race, not a clubrun, nobody is obligated to let you in, and especially not in front of their hard-earned spot in the line. And if it's a road race and there's an oncoming car, you will have to drop back or be killed if you try that move whilst riding on the wrong side of the dotted white line -- people don't appreciate idiots who sail up the side then want to push them out of the way so they can squeeze in before traffic passes.

    What you should do when you get to where you want to be is HOLD the wheel in front and don't let gaps open up so other riders will squeeze in front of you. You can be assertive without being aggressive. But if you start hesitating and letting gaps open up, someone with bigger [email protected] than you will almost surely take the opportunity to push in front. Do it often and there you are at the back again.

    Very good advice!
  • ongejongej Posts: 118
    Thanks for the replies! And maryka, sorry for making you repeat yourself again, I realised after searching for "moving in a peloton" (as opposed to bunch), this exact question was asked a few years back.. need to search more extensively, but I'll try to keep those comments in mind. In fact, I tried to do that on Sat in cyclopark, but the whole race turned into chaos, so it was less moving up and more dodging crashes, surviving and staying in contact :)
  • jibberjimjibberjim Posts: 2,810
    One thing to remember as well is if it's going slow then you don't need to move up... and once the bunch has sped up there's a lot more space to.
    Jibbering Sports Stuff: http://jibbering.com/sports/
  • ozzzyosborn206ozzzyosborn206 Posts: 1,340
    jibberjim wrote:
    One thing to remember as well is if it's going slow then you don't need to move up... and once the bunch has sped up there's a lot more space to.


    bad advice IMO, if it is slow you can easily move up even if it means taking the wind on the outside of bunch then slot in when nearer the front, I generally find it easiest to slot in, in corners. If you don't move up when it is slow and end up at the back that is the last place you want to be when the hammer goes down and people start dropping wheels and leaving gaps that you then need to shut down.

    To move up in the bunch you have to be confident in your ability about riding close to others just keep looking for gaps in front of you and move up, most of the time you have to keep trying to find the gaps just to maintain position otherwise you will find yourself at the back again, if you see a gap, go to move in and it starts getting shut just tap them on the hip with your hand and 95% of people will move out again and give you the space you need to move up.
  • olake92olake92 Posts: 182
    maryka wrote:
    Watch riders who are good at it and emulate what they do...

    +1 Another way to do it is glue yourself to the wheel of someone experienced; you can learn a lot by following them for as much of the race as possible. You may also follow them into the race winning move.
    maryka wrote:
    What you shouldn't do though... move up the side then frantically indicate with your hand that you want to be let in 3 wheels from the front. It's a race, not a clubrun, nobody is obligated to let you in, and especially not in front of their hard-earned spot in the line.

    You can usually manage to go up the outside, take a couple of guys on your wheel and as you slot in at the front (admittedly in the wind for a bit) they will filter past you, providing a nice draft. As maryka says, don't expect to be let in to the line.
    maryka wrote:
    And if it's a road race and there's an oncoming car, you will have to drop back or be killed if you try that move whilst riding on the wrong side of the dotted white line -- people don't appreciate idiots who sail up the side then want to push them out of the way so they can squeeze in before traffic passes.

    We don't appreciate it at all. There are rules - not overtaking on the wrong side of the road (especially over solid lines) into oncoming traffic is one of them. Without doubt, this is the MOST IMPORTANT rule in road racing. However, let's not make any false pretences; if a rider is hanging out on the other side of the road, with a car approaching towards them, let them in. Save their life.

    On a less macabre note, if you're not moving forward, you're usually moving backwards.
    I'm on Twitter! Follow @olake92 for updates on my racing, my team's performance and some generic tweets.
  • ongejongej Posts: 118
    I guess I also wanted to know how does one "slot in" into a line? The way I've seen it done is almost half-wheeling, that is, from the outside, ride close to the line (or very close), but with half your bike in front of the person you want to be eventually behind, and the other half in front of the person you want to move back to allow you to get in. Then, I see that sometimes, that will "force" a nice rider to move back a bit in which you can then carefully move in. Of course, the rider (myself included) can say no, stick like glue to the wheel in front, never open a gap, regardless of how close the outside rider gets, and leave him/her hanging on the side in the wind ...

    I have also read tips that if your handlebars are in front of another rider's beside you, you can control whether to force them back and take their place... not sure if thats true as I have never tried it conciously.
  • olake92olake92 Posts: 182
    I think the best way to slot into a line is (as you say) to position your handlebars in front of their's, using the heaviest and therefore most stable part of your body - your torso, hips and thigh - to act as some sort of passive-aggressive signal of intent; your body is able to push their bars out of the way should you wish, so usually they let you in. However, this isn't always the case, and a polite tap indicates they won't be moving. If the bunch is going faster, don't be surprised if it's an elbow jabbing you so they don't have to take a hand off the bars, but it's just the same thing as the tap.

    As a general rule, if you're a reasonable distance from the finish, its much easer to let people in than 'fight' for position. However, when the hammer is down, then there's no obligation!

    Moving through a bunch is more difficult, but in essence the same - use your mass and more stable parts to manoeuvre yourself in front of other riders (not dangerously though). Often, gaps are bigger than you think and you can always push someone out of the way (politely again, they might not know you're there!) if the gap starts to close on you. Sometimes, you just have to use patience - gaps open up all the time and taking 2km to move through the bunch might save valuable energy that going in the wind won't. For example, at the E12 at Cyclopark (I believe you were in the 3/4?) I was in the lead group and boxed in coming up out of the right hand sweeper 500m to go. I could have gone into the wind but would have had no sprint afterwards, so waited and a gap opened up, leaving me with enough energy for a sprint and a clear run.
    I'm on Twitter! Follow @olake92 for updates on my racing, my team's performance and some generic tweets.
  • maryka wrote:
    ......And if it's a road race and there's an oncoming car, you will have to drop back or be killed if you try that move whilst riding on the wrong side of the dotted white line -- people don't appreciate idiots who sail up the side then want to push them out of the way so they can squeeze in before traffic passes.

    Very, very wise words indeed. I just wish everyone would heed this.

    Raced the Surrey League RR last Saturday and was really disappointed to see a very experienced rider do this towards the end of the race. Thankfully, it didn't cause any major problems, but it can often cause a crash behind the point where the rider pushes back into the bunch.

    I really would like to see Chief Comms hammer riders for doing this.
  • bigmatbigmat Posts: 5,111
    maryka wrote:
    ......And if it's a road race and there's an oncoming car, you will have to drop back or be killed if you try that move whilst riding on the wrong side of the dotted white line -- people don't appreciate idiots who sail up the side then want to push them out of the way so they can squeeze in before traffic passes.

    Very, very wise words indeed. I just wish everyone would heed this.

    Raced the Surrey League RR last Saturday and was really disappointed to see a very experienced rider do this towards the end of the race. Thankfully, it didn't cause any major problems, but it can often cause a crash behind the point where the rider pushes back into the bunch.

    I really would like to see Chief Comms hammer riders for doing this.

    Was that the afternoon race? If so I think I know who you mean - were they in hi-viz?! That race made me realise I really am cr*p at moving up the bunch, started at the back and took about 20 minutes to hit the front by which time the break had gone and it was game over. Putting it down to race rust (first race in 6 months) but need to be aggressive from the gun next time out.
  • ozzzyosborn206ozzzyosborn206 Posts: 1,340
    I think it is more often than not worth sacrificing some warm up time in order to get a better start position
  • olake92olake92 Posts: 182
    For what it's worth, since the fatality in an SERRL RR last year, I'm not racing on the courses south of London, I don't feel they're safe. Of course, I may be wrong, but it's my personal feeling.

    As regards the warm up, if it's a race where the starting position matters, it's always worth sacrificing warm up time. Kermesses in Belgium are a prime example of this - 10mins early and no warm up will get a good starting position and won't lose you the race, a warm up and a bad starting position could well lose it for you! The Tour Series is another one, although riders are called to the start line in team order, so you can afford to warm up until your team is called.
    I'm on Twitter! Follow @olake92 for updates on my racing, my team's performance and some generic tweets.
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