Tips for Better Peloton Riding
With sportive season well underway and big ones such as the Mallorca 312 and Marmotte on the horizon, knowing how to ride in a peloton or as part of a large group of riders is essential. This post offers tips for better peloton riding. Riding in a peloton saves roughly 30% of your energy as wind resistance and air pressure is less, allowing you to ride further and ride faster for less effort.
When riding as part of a peloton on an open road, communicating hazards is advised. Using terms such as ‘Car back’ to indicate a car is approaching from behind should always be highlighted, as well as potholes and similar hazards. The trick to good hazard communication is not to scream and shout, but just to say a warning loud enough to be heard.
Also, common sense plays its part. If you’re on a road with a poor road surface or a busy main road, there is little point highlighting the hazards as you will become a distraction. Use your discretion and judgement.
Cycling in Pairs
On open road sportives you are unlikely to ride three or four abreast. You are more likely to ride two abreast. Normally, you will find that you will ride side by side with only a few centimetres between the handlebars. This fills in spaces and will make the peloton more efficient. You should try and maintain this position and do not try to pull ahead of your riding partner. This is likely to be frowned upon.
Protect your Front Wheel
When peloton accidents happen, it is often because the front wheel of a bike collides with the rear wheel of another bike. To avoid, imagine a space smaller than a metre around your front wheel. Your objective is to ensure this space is a rear wheel free zone. So if another rider enters it drop back and keep the space free. With it also being smaller than a metre, you also have some degree of wind protection.
Holding your Line
It is essential in peloton riding to hold your position and understand that your movement is dictated by the rider in front of you. This is important as solo riding is considerably different as your path is dictated by what is ahead. Reacting to the rider in front is an important safety precaution as a sudden movement could result in a collision.
Gaps in the peloton are inevitable as the lead riders will rotate resulting in riders dropping back into the group. If a gap remains unplugged this can lessen the effectiveness of the peloton as it will weaken the structure. If a gap appears in front of you try and close it. Never sprint to close gaps instead increase your cadence slightly until the gap is closed.
Pacing is important in a peloton. If you feel you can no longer maintain the right pace, indicate that you need to drop back and when safe drop out of the peloton. Remember sudden movements not only break the peloton but are dangerous.
When you ride lead (make sure you do your fair share), ensure you ride at a smooth and consistent pace and avoid accelerating out of corners. As peloton leader you are in part responsible for the safety of those behind so look ahead and try to avoid hazards.
For many riders, mastering peloton riding is mastering the next level in their cycling. It is a key aspect we teach in our Mallorca road cycle training, where you will soon master group riding and see improvements in your technique. To become a better rider, learn to ride as part of a peloton.
Submitted on 15/04/2016