Silver Wheels Cycling Club, Inc. 

Bicycling For Recreation, Fitness, Fun, Learning and Advocacy

 

Drafting


Drafting, also called slip-streaming or sitting on a wheel, is a crucial skill if you want to learn how to ride with other cyclists at faster speeds. You can save as much as 30-40% of your energy when drafting at higher speeds! Drafting enables you to ride longer and faster and makes it more enjoyable to ride with the faster groups. 


Caution:  This technique will not be for everyone in our Club, but drafting is beneficial for our faster groups and on the strong headwind rides. This technique requires skill and a higher level of attentiveness and concentration. Practice, practice, practice until you feel comfortable using it in a large group. If you are not comfortable with drafting, simply do not attempt to draft or participate in a pace line.

  • Thanks for reading. We don't have a counter on this page and we want to determine how many club members read the Education and Safety content. So, Club members that send an email to rhip@juno.com with the Subject line reading "Bike Education and Safety" by noon on July 19th will be "counted" and entered into a drawing for a prize at the July 20th Membership Meeting!!! One entry per member and members of the Education and Safety Committee and their family members are not eligible. Now about drafting....
  • When attempting to draft, make sure the lead rider is aware of and agrees with your intention. Never assume it is ok to just pull up behind someone and draft.
  • Practice with a friend, taking turns leading or drafting. Start about a bike length behind the rider in front of you. Allow time to adjust for unforeseen hazards or changes in directions. As you get more confident, you can edge a little closer to the rider in front. For very experienced riders, 12 inches is often the target distance behind the wheel in front to maximize the energy savings.
  • Be careful to not overlap your front wheel with their back wheel. 
  • Don’t constantly look down, but look up occasionally, checking the traffic and change in directions ahead of you.
  • Don’t use your brakes sharply, but rather feather them lightly when adjusting to speed or direction. It is wise to keep your hands on the brake levers or hoods, to quickly adjust to the rider in front.
  • The wind direction determines how to position yourself behind the rider:
    • If the wind is from the left, position yourself to the right of the rider
    • If the wind is from the front, positon yourself directly behind the rider.
    • If the wind is to the right, positon yourself to the left of the rider
    • Again, caution about overlapping your wheels, it is dangerous! If your wheel touches the wheel in front, you go down and so might other riders. However, note that the position of the wheel is determined by the wind direction. Communicate with the rider in front, so he knows where you are riding.
  • Stopping distance on wet or downhill situations requires leaving plenty of room. Always keep your fingers on your brakes in readiness.
  • The rider in front has responsibilities as well. He should not do anything quickly. He should point out holes or hazards. He should not brake suddenly. He should get out of the saddle gently, not jerkily, so as not to get thrown backwards on the bike, surprising the rider behind him. Remember to communicate clearly any movements that might cause adjustments, such as coasting, turning, lane change, etc. Agree on hand signals before the ride. If the leader becomes tired, signal to others and drop out by moving to the left.

The three videos below help explain the advantages and mechanics of drafting.


Cycling Training

Scientific Proof

Draft Like a Pro


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