Movement in the peloton - http://www.bikeforums.net/archive/index.php/t-183052.html

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jerseyjunkie
03-22-06, 11:37 AM
So, I did my first race last weekend, a cat 5 crit.

It was slower than I anticipated (21.5 mph ave), and the sprint was faster than I anticipated (I was struggling to hang onto the group at the end).

Anyway, here's the question: is there any way to stay in the middle of the pack where you just get sucked along for most of the race? I found that when I was in the middle of the pack cruising, people would inevitably sprint around the side of the pack, so that I ended up in the back, and would have to sprint around the side myself if I wanted to stay in the front of the pack. One time, when in the middle, I tried to stay up front by latching onto a new wheel, and some guy barked at me "that's my wheel!!" I ended up drifting back.

Is the pro peloton constantly shifting around like this too? Is there a way to stay up front in the middle without pissing people off?

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2Rodies
03-22-06, 12:11 PM
Well, the reason you kept ending up in the back was because everyone else was trying to get to the front. If you don't make the same efforts to stay in the top you'll inevitably end up on or off the back.

As for the guy barking at you, I would have ignored him and stayed where you were. If drifted off the guys wheel and slipped in and took his spot to f'n bad, that's bike racing. Hell I've moved guys off wheels and took their spots, it's part and parcel of the sport. Crits are far more aggressive than road races because they are shorter and more intense. In a RR you don't see a ton of fighting for wheels until the very last part of the race. Since most RR's are 1.5-2+ hours long there really is no point in fighting for wheel from the beginning. In a crit that may only be 40min long getting shuffled to the back then fighting your way back up front uses a ton of energy, energy you will need to contest the sprint.

EventServices
03-22-06, 12:50 PM
First of all, no one owns any wheels. If a guy is yelling at you to get off a wheel, stay on it. There must be something good about it.

Also, there is no auto-pilot setting that the field engages.
It's a constant fight for position. A constant shuffling of the deck.

The only time it stops shuffling is when it's going so fast no one can move up without sticking their nose in the wind.

You can suck along at the back. There's plenty of draft. But if a crash occurs, guess who's going to get stuck in it or behind it.

Most riders want to be at the front because that's where the racing is.
No breakaway is going to escape off the side. They all go off the front.

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timmhaan
03-22-06, 01:16 PM
i like to think of it like this: for every person that passes you, you're basically moving backward in the pack.

it took me a few races to get enough confidence to hold my position. and it's easy once you figure it out, but you gotta look like you know what you're doing (and of course it helps if you do :)) i've taken people's positions before because it looked like they were'nt sure they were supposed to be there. a little hesitation and i barge my way in.

it sounds like you might need to close in on the wheel you're following just a tad. too much space and you'll be inviting everyone in.

San Rensho
03-22-06, 01:47 PM
The peleton has an ebb and flow, in one area of the peleton the riders are moving forward relative to the rest, in other parts they are moving backwards. I try to ride the wave that is always moving forward, get to the front, immediately get off and then latch on to the part that is moving forward.

To do this, develop the zen of sight. You must learn to "Look nowhere, but see everything". You can train yourself so that your eyes are focused on the front of the pack so that you can see what is happening, where the ebb and flow is, but at any instant, you can concentrate your ATTENTION any where else in your field of view WITHOUT moving your eyes.

For example, you will still be looking forward, but momentarily place your attention (again without moving your eyes) on the wheel in front of you to make sure you are not going to ride up it.

Its only when you are liberated from the slavery of fixing your eyes the wheel in front of you that you will start to be competitive in the pack.

Jet-man
03-22-06, 02:19 PM
yep - w/o a bunch of hammers at the front stringing it out, there is always people swarming up the sides when it slows up. It takes constant awareness to know where to be and when to keep yourself moving up in the draft of others and not pulling at the front.

If a wheel is semi-open, I'm on it. If someone yells at you @ that - tell him if he stops leaving gaps, you'll stop grabbing them.

In the last couple o' laps in crits & especially the last lap, the guys who are keen on winning typically don't make a lot of friends then...

DannoXYZ
03-22-06, 08:01 PM
Yeah, don't worry about that barking guy, if there's more than 2-ft of space between the two guys moving up the side, you can move over and hop onto the train easily. Best manuveur I've found is to "back up" into the gap and shove that guy back or outwards. When the guy moving up next to you has his crank about even with your front-wheel, I'd start moving over. This moves your rear-wheel into the gap first and shoves the guy behind out of the way. You're actually not backing up, but moving at the same speed as the pack (or slightly faster), but still slower than the guys moving up the side. When your front-wheel is even with the rear-wheel of the guy next to you, start speeding up so that you don't open up a gap yourself when you pull in behind him.

If the barker really wanted to keep that wheel, he'd be closer than he was. Also he'd push you back into the pack and fight for that spot if he wanted to stick on that wheel. Most of the time, it's no big deal because you're both in the outside row that's moving up. The trick here is to get on someone's wheel IMMEDIATELY when they're moving up the outside of the pack. If you wait for more than 4-5 guys, they'll be 2 or more rows to your outside and it's much tougher to move over.

If you see the front of the pack starting to slow, for whatever reason, then move over and be out in the wind yourself. When the compression starts and the middle of the pack slows, you'll just fly up the outside at full-speed. You can move up from the rear to the very front in just a couple of seconds. :)

My favorite way of moving up the pack is on the inside coming out of corners. I'd start coasting about 10-15ft earlier than the guys ahead and open up a 2-3ft gap or so going into the corner. Then I wouldn't brake and go full speed through the corner, about 0.5-0.75mph faster than the guys ahead. Right when I'm about to rear-end them, the corner opens up and they drift outwards. I hold a tighter line and start pedaling earlier. I'd end up pull up next to the guys ahead and passing them easily without any effort at all. Can make up 2-3 positions per corner and maintain position in the top 10-15 easily. If you really push it, you can make up 5-6 positions per corner and move up in the pack.

Phatman
03-22-06, 08:22 PM
haha, sometimes I'm the barker. In lower-cat races, sometimes just intimidating someone can be enough to make them lose a wheel. It doesnt usually work, but if you're gassed, and you need to hold a wheel, its worth trying.

merlinextraligh
03-23-06, 07:08 AM
haha, sometimes I'm the barker. In lower-cat races, sometimes just intimidating someone can be enough to make them lose a wheel. It doesnt usually work, but if you're gassed, and you need to hold a wheel, its worth trying.


This is why this is such a lovely sport. How about trying to win with superior fitness, or skills, instead of being an ass

I saw Elvis
03-23-06, 08:11 AM
[QUOTE=jerseyjunkie One time, when in the middle, I tried to stay up front by latching onto a new wheel, and some guy barked at me "that's my wheel!!" [/QUOTE]

My response to someone shouting 'that's my wheel' would have been - feel free to take it and when they tried just give them a little lean, don't be intimidated you had every right to be where you were and if anyone had a problem with this tough luck :)

Phatman
03-23-06, 09:18 AM
This is why this is such a lovely sport. How about trying to win with superior fitness, or skills, instead of being an ass

being an ass IS a skill. the strongest rider doesnt always win, its the smartest. If my social skills help me, then so be it.

bitingduck
03-23-06, 09:32 AM
It just takes a lot of practice.

One really useful thing you can do is if you know of someone in the pack (doesn't have to be a friend even-- could be someone who you know is about to upgrade) who is really good at being in/holding a good position, just make it your job to *always* be on that person's wheel. Hold it tight. Defend it. Don't let it go. It will simplify your race a lot, since you don't have to plan with respect to everyone else, just that skilled person who will move you through the pack. Eventually (pretty quickly) you'll develop enough awareness to read the race yourself and won't need to sit as tight, and will be able to move around where you want to be, and on the wheels you want.

And like San Rensho said - don't focus on the wheel, focus on where you are, where you want to be, and how you're going to get there. In this case, where you are with respect to the guy you want to be on, and pay attention in front of him, because he's going to be reacting to that, and you need to anticipate.

And the proper response to the guy who barked was to give a twisted smile, cackle maniacally, and say "Not anymore".

timmhaan
03-23-06, 09:40 AM
i agree with ^^^^ following someone you know who isn't going to get dropped and has a reputation for finishing strong will get you a long way in a race.

i actually like racing unattached for this reason. you can attach yourself to anyone really, and if you use them wisely enough, they'll end up helping you quite a bit.

botto
03-23-06, 10:43 AM
My response to someone shouting 'that's my wheel' would have been - feel free to take it and when they tried just give them a little lean, don't be intimidated you had every right to be where you were and if anyone had a problem with this tough luck :)

I hope you're at least a cat 3 if you're gonna pull those kind of tactics.

Reminds me of a RR i did in upstate NY years ago, where i was sprinting for what turned out to be 7th place. I was moving up on the gutter, and just as i was about to pass the guy on my left, he bumps me. This was a CAT 4 RACE!!! He bumps me again - the guy was trying to take me down!??? Let me say type this again - it was a cat 4 race. I managed to get past just as the eric vanderaerden wanna-be tried one last time. he missed me and lost his balance, hitting the floor. i finished 7th and got my upgrade point.

have to say - i was very satisfied when i saw him in the locker rooms afterwards, covered in road rash head to toe. :)

cyclezen
03-23-06, 09:23 PM
So, I did my first race last weekend, a cat 5 crit.

It was slower than I anticipated (21.5 mph ave), and the sprint was faster than I anticipated (I was struggling to hang onto the group at the end).

Anyway, here's the question: is there any way to stay in the middle of the pack where you just get sucked along for most of the race? I found that when I was in the middle of the pack cruising, people would inevitably sprint around the side of the pack, so that I ended up in the back, and would have to sprint around the side myself if I wanted to stay in the front of the pack. One time, when in the middle, I tried to stay up front by latching onto a new wheel, and some guy barked at me "that's my wheel!!" I ended up drifting back.

Is the pro peloton constantly shifting around like this too? Is there a way to stay up front in the middle without pissing people off?

remember, you are in a CAT >5< field, so there are no 'experienced' riders in there (unles by accident), so anyone yells at you, ignore (unless you're ridin squirrely, then settle down).
I;m readin a lot of really spooy advise above, enough to really get you into a 'touch the ground' position, avoid that stuff.
use your races to develop a good sense. 1st if you know the pace is slow, expect one hellacious and scary gallop that will prolly windup from 2 laps to go. If you know its 21.5 avg mph, know that is a slow pace for the "65+ w/one Broken leg" cat.
If the pace at any point is slow enough for you to feel comfortable, get out and move up. If you don't others will and you'll be at the back. If the pace winds up and becomes hellacious, tuck in and conserve.
If the pace is really slow or you feel good, go off the front and see if you get any takers of worth. Better to work hard with 3 or 4 others than leave your chances to chance in a pac of wheelsuckas (I know, I'm the wheelsucka from hell...)
What wheel to suck... Don;t look at the wheels of those in front of you, look at their heads. If they are constantly looking down or they're straight-arming their bars, move off their wheel. These riders will eventually ride up someone's ass and cause a crash, or they will emergency brake and cause you to ride up their wheel. If they are looking ahead and not maxed out, they'll be prepared for 'events', as you should be. Guys who are constantly accelerating and slowing while in the pac are trouble - avoid. find the steady wheel (if that isn't an oxymoron in CAT5). Be the steady wheel - this is where group training rides at tempo and holding tight wheels really helps. If you can learn to ride 1 foot off a wheel, and NOT stare at it; that's a skill of immeasureable significance.
There is no 'stay'. There is either 'moving up' or 'sliding back'. If the pac goes slow, don;t be a slacker, you go faster and move up to a forward position, cause, hopefully at some point it will get 'fast' again and being up front is better than at the end of the 'rubberband'. Test yourself, if 3 or 4 riders jump off the front and your sense is they have it, then go with them and see what you have. If you don't 'test' yourself, you'll never know what you really are made of.
It is Cat 5, and racing is the BEST 'training', for racing
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