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Group Riding Advice

spredyspredy Posts: 48
edited August 2017 in Amateur race
Hi there all,

People often talk about how to get fitter/lose weight but one aspect of racing I rarely/ever hear talked about is fear of group riding at high speeds.

I'm no slouch on a bike, have the fitness to be an alright racer and would really like to prove this, however I really struggle with corner/descending at high speeds and in bunches. I've ridden fast chaingangs and group rides and while twitchy at times am generally fine. But the tighter nature of races and higher speeds really shits me up and I often drift to the back and waste a sh!t load of energy catching back on.

I know everyone is different, but is this the kind of thing you can overcome and has anyone here done so? I don't have the terrain nearby to replicate 33mph+ cornering that I've seen in races, nor any decent hills for descending. I know you could race more, but that seems a dangerous place to practice said skills and should I mess up, it wouldn't just be myself I could hurt. Also travelling to races and wasting money just to be spat for being a wuss isn't ideal.

Any thoughts?

Thanks.

Posts

  • webboowebboo Posts: 2,865
    Go from the gun and then you won't have to ride in the bunch.
  • jgsijgsi Posts: 5,026
    Going from the gun is probably not the best advice for every single race you do .
    The only thing you can do is race as often as you can and choose your chaingangs.
    Knowing how to control your body and be in control of your bike, well, just get some rollers and start learning some tricks.
    it is all down to advanced bike handling.
    yeah, I can be a little wary when I see someone taking their gilet off in front of me whilst in the bunch in a road race, but then again, that person has probably quite a good palmares, so I get over it.
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,001
    catch 22 - you can't race well without bunch experience. You can't get bunch experience without racing.
  • milemuncher1milemuncher1 Posts: 1,472
    You have to gain the trust of the group to ride quickly, and chain gang, and such stuff. If you can ride an inch away from the rider in front, and master the technique of chain riding, it's very rewarding. There's deffinitely an advantage to doing so, you'll be covering distances faster, and more efficiently, due to drafting efficiency. But you can't be a 'squirrel'. Any unpredictability in your riding, is going to freak a chain out, and it won't work. It's really only experience that will get you where you need to be. Trust the riders you are with, if they trust you, and you trust them, it's good to be able to ride like that, but you need to know when it's appropriate to do so, and when it isn't.On a ride with a group, which isn't part of a large organised event is fine, in a Sportive, isn't fine.
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,001
    You have to gain the trust of the group to ride quickly, and chain gang, and such stuff. If you can ride an inch away from the rider in front, and master the technique of chain riding, it's very rewarding. There's deffinitely an advantage to doing so, you'll be covering distances faster, and more efficiently, due to drafting efficiency. But you can't be a 'squirrel'. Any unpredictability in your riding, is going to freak a chain out, and it won't work. It's really only experience that will get you where you need to be. Trust the riders you are with, if they trust you, and you trust them, it's good to be able to ride like that, but you need to know when it's appropriate to do so, and when it isn't.On a ride with a group, which isn't part of a large organised event is fine, in a Sportive, isn't fine.

    Not sure if you read his post wrong. He isn't talking about chain gangs. He is talking about bunch racing.
  • webboowebboo Posts: 2,865
    You have to gain the trust of the group to ride quickly, and chain gang, and such stuff. If you can ride an inch away from the rider in front, and master the technique of chain riding, it's very rewarding. There's deffinitely an advantage to doing so, you'll be covering distances faster, and more efficiently, due to drafting efficiency. But you can't be a 'squirrel'. Any unpredictability in your riding, is going to freak a chain out, and it won't work. It's really only experience that will get you where you need to be. Trust the riders you are with, if they trust you, and you trust them, it's good to be able to ride like that, but you need to know when it's appropriate to do so, and when it isn't.On a ride with a group, which isn't part of a large organised event is fine, in a Sportive, isn't fine.
    Did you read the op post, they are ok in a chain gang. It's in a race situation where they are struggling.
    Although my reply was a bit tongue in cheek. I used to get intimidated in a large bunch in a race so I always tried to stay on the outside and go from the gun to try and reduce the size of the bunch. If you are going to get spat out by hanging at the back, you might as well get blown out by trying to get off the front.
  • milemuncher1milemuncher1 Posts: 1,472
    Imposter wrote:
    You have to gain the trust of the group to ride quickly, and chain gang, and such stuff. If you can ride an inch away from the rider in front, and master the technique of chain riding, it's very rewarding. There's deffinitely an advantage to doing so, you'll be covering distances faster, and more efficiently, due to drafting efficiency. But you can't be a 'squirrel'. Any unpredictability in your riding, is going to freak a chain out, and it won't work. It's really only experience that will get you where you need to be. Trust the riders you are with, if they trust you, and you trust them, it's good to be able to ride like that, but you need to know when it's appropriate to do so, and when it isn't.On a ride with a group, which isn't part of a large organised event is fine, in a Sportive, isn't fine.

    Not sure if you read his post wrong. He isn't talking about chain gangs. He is talking about bunch racing.

    Aha, I read it wrong.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 6,140
    You have to gain the trust of the group to ride quickly, and chain gang, and such stuff. If you can ride an inch away from the rider in front, and master the technique of chain riding, it's very rewarding. ne.

    Maybe I'm getting old but isn't an inch a little close to be riding in a chain gang, it isn't the Olympic team pursuit.

    As far as bunch racing goes you either accept the risk or you don't. Try and focus on a plan for the race that might help avoid you focusing too much on the fact you are doing 35mph wearing lycra surrounded by 60 inexperienced wannabes potentially seconds away from a painful impact with the tarmac.

    If you are able to stay in the first 8-12 riders a race feels more like a chain gang and you'll be more in your comfort zone. Yes ypu'll have to ride on the front a bit probably but you can do hat without being a bunch engine and being up there you'll feel more confident and other riders will be happier to let you back in if you are contributing plus some will see it as a chance to avoid going to the front themselves.

    I'm not totally happy bunch racing either so I know where you are coming from, still all the bad accidents I've had, and I've had a couple of bad ones, took place training or just tootling along on my own.
    AFC Mercia women - sign for us
  • Alex99Alex99 Posts: 1,436
    I'm assuming that from your post, you've done at least a couple of races, so you know from experience that you find this aspect hard.

    A few things you could think about:

    1) position. As others have mentioned, where you are in the peleton has big impact on how things feel. This, combined with...
    2) the nature of the course. A course with tight bends and fast downhill will be more intense, require greater skill and will be more punishing to lack of skill.
    3) do you lack skill? You can't expect to develop confidence if you don't have the skill because you'll be overwhelmed and something will go wrong. As others have said, the most realistic exposure is the real thing, but if that is too much of a leap, then you needs a smaller step first. Your chaingang rides, can they be made more technical? Choosing a race on a less technical course is also a smaller step. I don't quite see it as a catch 22 as you can find ways to 'ratchet up'.
    4) do you have an unusual / undue level of fear / nervousness? This might be just a problem that you suffer with more than most. I'm no psychologist, but if this is the case maybe there is someone out there with knowledge of these things to help you.
  • Local to us is a non-profit cycling club. They meet many times a week.

    The help with individual interval training, chaingang riding, ettiquette, bunch racing simulation, sprint leadout practice. They put a calendar on their website of when they do which kind of ride and post the expected number of groups or paces (A+, A, B, C).

    They expect that after coming for a while you donate a yearly "dues" to cover website maintenance, planning, etc....

    I've been once so far and plan to return when possible then start paying the dues. Very worth it. The leader was very well organized, knowledgeable, and communicated the entire time. "Close the gaps!", "2 min pull is over!", "final miles leadout!" etc..........

    The leader would rotate through the group and coach folks on the different things if they needed help.

    Try to find this nearby.
  • milemuncher1milemuncher1 Posts: 1,472
    Local to us is a non-profit cycling club. They meet many times a week.

    The help with individual interval training, chaingang riding, ettiquette, bunch racing simulation, sprint leadout practice. They put a calendar on their website of when they do which kind of ride and post the expected number of groups or paces (A+, A, B, C).

    They expect that after coming for a while you donate a yearly "dues" to cover website maintenance, planning, etc....

    I've been once so far and plan to return when possible then start paying the dues. Very worth it. The leader was very well organized, knowledgeable, and communicated the entire time. "Close the gaps!", "2 min pull is over!", "final miles leadout!" etc..........

    The leader would rotate through the group and coach folks on the different things if they needed help.

    Try to find this nearby.

    That sounds excellent, sadly the vast majority of 'clubs' I've personally encountered, mostly consist of, over competitive middle aged people , with an over inflated ego, and loud shouty people, and failed ex pro's. It puts people off joining clubs, which is bad, from the perspective of getting more people involved in cycling.
  • jgsijgsi Posts: 5,026
    This is about amateur racing - and without local clubs there would be NO racing.
    Dont divert the thread please to promote a bias.

    OP, carry on racing and as the road season draws to a close, there is the expanding cross season to think about.
    Speed may be relative , a race average may be quite 'slow' but on a technical course your bike handling in a busy race will benefit as will riding in close quarters riding for position.

    Ok, it means another bike etc , a lot of dark and cold and wet but apparently it is fun.
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,001
    Local to us is a non-profit cycling club. They meet many times a week.

    The help with individual interval training, chaingang riding, ettiquette, bunch racing simulation, sprint leadout practice. They put a calendar on their website of when they do which kind of ride and post the expected number of groups or paces (A+, A, B, C).

    They expect that after coming for a while you donate a yearly "dues" to cover website maintenance, planning, etc....

    I've been once so far and plan to return when possible then start paying the dues. Very worth it. The leader was very well organized, knowledgeable, and communicated the entire time. "Close the gaps!", "2 min pull is over!", "final miles leadout!" etc..........

    The leader would rotate through the group and coach folks on the different things if they needed help.

    Try to find this nearby.

    That sounds excellent, sadly the vast majority of 'clubs' I've personally encountered, mostly consist of, over competitive middle aged people , with an over inflated ego, and loud shouty people, and failed ex pro's. It puts people off joining clubs, which is bad, from the perspective of getting more people involved in cycling.

    Please stop posting on this forum - your ignorance is just embarrassing. Ask yourself why it is that you seem to encounter groups like this wherever you go.
  • joey54321joey54321 Posts: 1,297
    Might be worth spending a session or two practicing cornering, even at slow speeds getting your technique really nailed down will help. I have used an empty park and ride car park to do corner practice. Other than that it is just practice in the bunch and just remember to look after your front wheel.
  • milemuncher1milemuncher1 Posts: 1,472
    Back on topic, as has been said, practice makes perfect, the more you practice, the less fear speed group riding will hold for you.
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