Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sitting In and 2 Other Ways to Be Mediocre & Survive

Bikefucious say, “The best cyclists are lazy, except when necessary.”  I’m no cycling genius and this certainly isn’t the blog for impeccable cycling insight, but for the most part, it’s true.  In a race, on a group ride, even solo, cycling is about getting the most out of doing the least.  The time trialist riding the aero bike with his knees akimbo isn’t going to set the course record.  We’ve all been the dufus to bridge the gap to the breakaway with 4 riders on our wheel only to get shelled on the next riser.  We get dropped and learn.  I’m certain I’ve been dropped on every ride in town at one time or another.  I’m probably one of the most mediocre riders in the bunch.  If you’re not blessed with hams like a side of beef or the metabolism of a squirrel, the next best thing is to eek every sliver of hope out of your hopeless physique by riding smart.  Here's 3 tips and, and although I'm not qualified to operate Microsoft Paint, a kick ass graphic I made myself. 

Pedal Through Corners
I put my fist to my mouth and scream pent up rage into it every time I ride behind someone who coasts through corners on a group ride.  I can see it coming.  Hands on the hoods are a telltale of an impending corner coast.  That’s followed by the inevitable gap letting and eventual match burning to close it.  It’s like littering to me, littering energy that you could use later.  Put your hands in the drops and pedal through corners, so you don’t have to waste energy closing the gap.  Riders behind wont have to be on the brakes like a monkey or mutter obscenities under their breath.  If the rider in front of you made it through the corner pedaling in the drops, you should be able to as well.  Take a few yoga or Pilates classes and develop some confidence in your balance and core strength.  If you still find yourself routinely becoming unglued through twisty corners that others smoothly carry more speed or pedal through, run less air pressure in your tires for grip.  I won’t get into that whole Leonard Zinn charts and graphs thing, but I’m a 6 foot tall 162 pound guy and I run my tires in the neighborhood of 100- 105psi, not the 120 max it says on the sidewall. 

Stay in the Drops
Last night I was on the Cincinnati version of your local racer ride, Wednesday Night Worlds.  Two riders were in the drops all night long.  They weren't the fastest in the bunch.  One would attest to being the weakest.  However, both rode smart, and unlike stronger riders who got dropped along they way, they stayed in their drops, flat backed and hung the whole ride.  If you’re mediocre like me, hunker down; keep your knees and elbows in and save some energy by beating the wind.  You'll feel like you're totally cheating the guys riding tall on their hoods.

It’s Okay To Sit In
It’s the skill that riders learn last, yet it’s the one that could save them from a lonely slog back home.  You’re wheezing like a donkey, your HRM is beeping like an alarm clock and yet you’re in the lane headed to the front for another pull.  Don’t be a doof, doof.  There’s one thing worse than getting dropped on a group ride.  It’s dropping yourself.  You don’t have to pull through on a group ride.  Sit in.  No one’s gonna care, or think you’re lame. In fact they likely saw you struggling the last time you pulled through and will be thankful that you won’t be letting a gap go anymore.  Sitting in is an art.  To do it, hide yourself behind but just to the left of the last rider in the fall back lane of the paceline (pictured as yellow arrow.)  Do it right and, when they look to the right to see when it’s their turn to move to the pulling lane, they won’t even see you and move over smoothly.   The trick is to not disrupt the back of the paceline by staying out of their field of vision and causing the other riders to close a gap as they move over.  Practice with a friendly group.

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