Paceline fun: hammering, drafting, and wheelsucking

Posted by SuperClydesdale on June 25, 2010 under Commentary | 6 Comments to Read

Nothing that a big guy likes more than a ride that plays to our strengths – level ground (I’m toying with the idea of posting some all downhill rides).  As a little dude revels in showing up the big guys on the lengthy climbs, a big guy with a diesel engine loves to let it out – a high speed hammerfest that allows a huge outlay of power at high speeds without having to worry about the next big hill.

Its not all pretty, though.  These fairytale rides come with a dark side: reality.   Even in a paceline, a big guy is pretty much on his own.  If you’re like me, the people you ride with are far less… substantial.  When you’re drafting behind a little dude, it’s like they are not even there.  We Clydesdales typically create an enormous vacuum in our wake, that practically pulls riders along behind us.  Riders of any size can cruise along with relative ease behind a Clydesdale, but its not reciprocated by the small guys.

The picture is of a big New Zealander dude named Adrian McKenzie.   I saw this photo on Zinn Cycles’ blog, where Adrian was singing the praises of proportionally correct cranks.  Mr. McKenzie says that he’s not really as big as this photo make him look, but I thought that it was hilarious.  I’m the Adrian McKenzie on most of the team rides I am on (although he does look MASSIVE).  Clearly, he’s not going to get much benefit from drafting any of the dwarfs he’s riding with.

When I cruise down a bike trail, I’m like a bike magnet.  I cruise past people, and it’s like they are magically sucked in behind me.   I look back, and there’s often one or two riders wheelsucking, enjoying a free 22mph ride behind a massive wind game joker online poker screen.  For them its like riding behind a delivery van.

I generally consider it rude to wheelsuck, particularly without some sort of communication to let me know you’re there.  Its like driving in someone’s blind spot.  I may stop or something, and have some freeloader crash into my rear wheel.

I was on a team ride this past weekend. This one was a mostly level out & back, for a total of 72 miles.  I knew that this ride was going to be a fast one because (a) it had minimal climb and (b) I was on it.   On the  ride  (it’s a huge team, so about 50 people did the ride, and naturally broke into groups based on pace), I’d typically be in a group of four to perhaps eight riders in a paceline.  We’d pass people and they would join up for a while, then drop off, and we’d gain replacements later on.  We’d rotate through with everyone taking a pull up front.   We were doing really long pulls, anywhere from a half a mile to a mile, and by the end of your pull, you’d be pretty gassed.   Like normal, I end my pull, and then pull off to the side to drift back to the back to supposedly enjoy a little R&R while working your way back up to the pull position again.

Because the pace was strong, everyone was pretty low over the bars, including me.   Problem is, even when I’m low over the bars, I was way above them.  My seat was way above them.  Then, it occurred to me – even on level ground the little guys have an advantage – they can draft, I can’t.   They’re useless.   I was shouting “hey, sit up tall, short stuff! I’m not getting any relief back here!”  They didn’t listen.  Selfish little bastards.

  • amckenzie said,

    Hey! That’s me!

    Can I just correct one small issue. I’m a New Zealander not an Aussie! We Kiwi’s tend to like to get that one right :)

    Great site – I’ll be a regular reader.

    Cheers

    Adrian.

  • amckenzie said,

    Hey! That’s me!

    Can I just correct one small issue. I’m a New Zealander not an Aussie! We Kiwi’s tend to like to get that one right :)

    Great site – I’ll be a regular reader.

    Cheers

    Adrian.

  • SuperClydesdale said,

    Adrian, absolutely, and my apologies — I’ve corrected the post. I read that you were a New Zealander, then screwed up when i posted, as I had received a note from another ex-rubgy player who was an Aussie, and apparently got confused. Add to that the fact that I am an American (many of which probably think Australia and New Zealand are in Europe, are part of the US, or are the same country), and it explains the screw-up pretty nicely.

  • SuperClydesdale said,

    Adrian, absolutely, and my apologies — I’ve corrected the post. I read that you were a New Zealander, then screwed up when i posted, as I had received a note from another ex-rubgy player who was an Aussie, and apparently got confused. Add to that the fact that I am an American (many of which probably think Australia and New Zealand are in Europe, are part of the US, or are the same country), and it explains the screw-up pretty nicely.

  • BJ211 said,

    This is so freakin awsome i had no idea there were others that i could finally draft behind. That would be cool (a big guy pace line) call it a fright train!!!!!! OR a CONVOY

  • BJ211 said,

    This is so freakin awsome i had no idea there were others that i could finally draft behind. That would be cool (a big guy pace line) call it a fright train!!!!!! OR a CONVOY

Add A Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.