Today was probably tougher than I even anticipated — the headwinds were strong — my guess 10-15 knots. When you have headwinds, bicycling becomes a team sport. To add to the insanity I decided to ride with the fast group. Why?
When you are riding into a headwind, the benefits of drafting go up considerably. But most bicyclists have never really learned how to ride in a peloton — they swerve to miss objects on the road, they change pace unpredictably, they vary their cadence at whim. It’s less safe, less beneficial and very nerve-wrecking to ride with people who aren’t used to riding 6 inches behind someone’s wheel. So by riding with the fast group I knew I was with people who would hold the line, hold the pace, and call out major issues. Challenge is I’m not quite up to their fitness level, so it was a tough day in that regard.
The dynamics of a pace line are that each person has to hold the front, ideally at the “same pace” and for the “same distance” — we were alternating every 2 miles. After about 50 miles, the two stronger riders (Ole and Dan) would take longer times up front, and the weak rider (me) would go 1-2 miles depending on the amount of climbing. Jerry, the fourth in our group, has a Kamikaze attitude towards the steep descents — he doesn’t just tuck and go without braking, he pedals furiously down these steep grades. Twice I fell behind after a steep descent (I did fine on the ascents) and had to catch up.
On one of those occasions Ole dropped back to “pull” me back to the group. It took an enormous amount of patience and physical stamina to do that. Ole is a true gentleman. But in the end, the whole group benefits from rotating among four riders versus 2-3. So if I were to apply some game theory, as long as the weaker cyclist isn’t slowing things down, even a 20% contribution is accretive.
One thing fascinating about a pace line is that there is no hierarchy — it is one of the few sporting situations I can think of where leadership is rotated consistently, and the burden of leadership is truly that.
Trump. It’s going to take me a few more days. Today was an 8 hour ride; tomorrow we have breakfast at 4:30 am, which given the time change today is 3:30 California Time. So I’m struggling to get through all of my routines and get enough sleep before tomorrow’s 117 mile day.
Ride Summary: 108 miles (we had to do a detour) with 4347 feet of climbing. Headwinds virtually the whole way, sometimes quite strong. Probably our toughest day, even tougher than the ascent over Donner Pass or Rose Mountain. If you are following me on Strava — I forgot to turn it on until about mile 30. Temperature was very nice — probably peaked at 83 degrees. Tomorrow will get up to 95 if we get in late (may be one reason we are starting early).
One thought on “Day 10: Wendover Nevada and The Pace Line”
I could semi-argue that team bowling and crew might classify as similar non-hierarchal team sports…plus of course bridge…but your point is a good one…drafting has always fascinated me – the risk/reward as you point out, the optimal distance (closer proximity = less wind resistance)…i had one experience where someone tried to draft behind me (one of those OCBC races)…i was of course much larger so gave him a nice shelter…but when I tried to pull out to let him do his share, he just followed me zigging and zagging…so i had two choices…speed up (not sustainable) or slow down…so I slowed down so much that he went by me….a minute later, i went back to my speed and passed hom shortly afterwards…
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