I’m careful riding in a group, particularly a pace-line. Accidents can happen quickly, particularly if the riders are inexperienced.
That’s often the case with cycling events like the Kawartha Classic.
We started out as a group of approximately 50 cyclists escorted by a motorcycle, easing the way through intersections. At about the 10 km mark, a rider went down. As I slowed, he was lying motionless at the side of the road, still clipped into his pedals. I considered stopping. I have been down before, and knew how disappointing it felt. But others had already stopped.
I looked ahead. A group of 10-15 quickly broke away. I could see they were more experienced. Club riders. Faster. And confident. I got out of my saddle, and chased them down. This is the group I want to ride with, if I could keep pace.
I latched onto the back but still cautious. I don’t like riding on anyone’s wheel unless I know I can trust them. Trust they will keep a steady, even pace, and clearly signal speed changes, and road dangers like potholes.
I stayed back, carefully assessing each of the riders for 10-15 km. At that point, I realized they were all strong, and experienced cycling in a pace-line. Slowly I closed in the wheel ahead.
The closer, and tighter the pack, the greater the drafting effect. It can be as much as 20-25 % energy saving.
This is the way to ride distance events. In a group on someone’s wheel.
I was able to keep pace. We rode the first 60 km as a well oiled team, gaining confidence, and speed, as we rolled through the countryside.
I train alone most of the time. And, I like being on the road alone. But cycling with an experienced group in a pace-line is exciting, and thrilling.