You may be intimidated by the speeds that the professional riders go, which is often averaging over 40km/hr. Don’t be fooled that this is all down to their levels of fitness. This is achieved by riding in a group or peloton and through the process of drafting.
Cycling is different from sports like running as when it comes to racing there is also a skills element.
You don’t need to ride in a peloton to get the benefits of drafting. You can do it will just one other rider.
Learn to save your energy to go faster!
Drafting is when you ride directly behind another riders wheel. If you can sit behind the wheel of another rider you will save around 30 - 40% of energy due to the wind resistance and the slip stream of air that the rider in front of you will produce.
How to learn to Draft
Drafting can feel quite daunting at first and there are dangers to be aware of. If you want to learn I would advise sitting behind a rider that is experienced at drafting and also let them know that you want to learn the skill, so they can be patient and don’t ride off.
Easier said than done, but get relaxed and feel comfortable with riding close to another rider.
Ride about a foot away from the wheel in front of you.
With practice it should become natural and you will be able the feel when you get the benefits of drafting.
Avoid sudden braking and feather your brakes gently.
If you have any riders behind you, make sure you signal when you are braking, point to potholes in the road and signal if you are overtaking anything in the road.
If you are going to get out the saddle do so gently so not to jerk the bike back.
As with most skills drafting takes practice to gain confidence. You don’t need to practice with a group right away. So find a friend to ride with to get as much practice as possible.
Share in the comments if drafting has helped you increase your average speed?
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