By Fred Matheny
Pacelines you see in pro racing are organized. They have specific rules. But in big groups like you find in centuries or charity rides, things will be disorganized. This can intimidate even experienced riders.
Sooner or later you’ll find yourself in a big group amid some riders with sketchy skills. It pays to learn how to survive (and also make yourself welcome) in a crowd.
Practice safety skills
Cycling isn’t a contact sport, but it’s not uncommon to have your arm brushed when riding near others in a group. It pays to learn how to bump into other riders without swerving or falling. It’s easy when you practice this drill used at the Carpenter-Phinney Bike Camps.
First, go with a cycling friend to a large grassy area like a soccer field. Ride side-by-side at a walking pace. Keep both hands on your bars. Start by gently touching elbows, then shoulders. As you gain confidence, lean more vigorously on the other rider. Soon, you’ll be bumping each other with abandon and throwing in a few head butts for fun, all without going down. (Of course, always wear your helmet just in case.)
Riding relaxed is the key to absorbing contact without swerving. Have slightly bent elbows, a firm-not-tight grip on the bar, and loose arm and shoulder muscles. If you’re relaxed, your body can absorb the shock before it gets to the handlebars.
This article is courtesy of RoadBikeRider.com and was written by its co-founder Fred Matheny (left). Fred was the Training and Fitness Editor of Bicycling Magazine for a decade, has written many books on cycling including Fred Matheny's Complete Book Of Road Bike Training; and is a world-record-holding roadie.
RoadBikeRider offers cycling& books, many more cycling guides and even a free weekly e-mail newsletter full of tips and news for aspiring bicyclists. Receive a FREE copy of the eBook “29 Pro Cycling Secrets for Roadies” by subscribing today.