Thursday, June 24, 2010

Preparing For The Next Epic Ride

As you folks know by now, Cap't Thomas, Quang, and Thanh were the three VeloViets that completed the 202-mile ride in 9 hours and 39 minutes recently. This distance and time is amazing by itself, but what were some of their ride "secrets"?

One answer is that they stayed together in a tight paceline... Greg in MN share with us this info below, along with a diagram from Felt Bicycles:

"Aerodynamic drag is a fascinating phenomenon. You will soon experience how much energy you can conserve by tucking in close behind another rider" and "the effectiveness of a draft is related to the size & shape of the object in front of you, how close you are following, and the relative air speed".

Photo 1 - The effect of aerodynamic on a bicycle (Felt Bicycles)

Notice the large air gap created right behind the ride in the photo. This is where you want to be as there is less air drag in this area. Greg went on to state that he is one of the taller VV riders in MN, and hence is a very popular person to draft behind as he creates a large wind shield for the rider behind.

Quang states that "the % power saving at about 20-21mph on flat" is "10-15% from the rider in front of you".

He also said that "position 1, 2, 3, 4 ... are all different" and "paceline in the track with the draft only about 2-4 inches apart and NO hill ... 100% power from 1st rider, 2nd rider only use 71% = 29% save, 3rd only use 64% = 36% save and 4th only use 63% = 37% save ..... in a straight line".

So in a long distance ride like the one recently completed by the VeloViet Club, the idea is share the workload among multiple riders by each rider rotating periodically through the front. The riders in the back then "rest" and conserve his energy by tucking in as close as possible to the front rider. The larger the pack, the less energy each rider have to expend compare at similar speed and distance.

There is no reason why a large group with OC A1 and A2 members can not finish an epic ride together and with a good time. Typically where the group tends to break apart is the accelerations from a dead stop. You see riders like myself work hard to close these gaps, from dead stops or even gaps in the paceline, as we know that we will have to exert a lot more energy later if we loose the draft of the front rider.

Besides the mental and physical conditioning to prepare for an epic ride, I practice drafting, and the occasional rotating to the front, when I ride with the A1 group. With the A2 group, I practice the above as well as accelerating smoothly from dead stops so that I don't loose anyone behind.

Give it a try at one of the Friendly/Social Rides. For those who are not experience with drafting, I suggest keeping the distance 1 or 2 feet between your front wheel and the front rider's rear wheel.

See U Sunday,


  1. Yes, it's important to ride in a tight paceline. It was evident during the 202 miles ride. Without sharing the workload and drafting off each other, it would have been a tough ride. However, sharing the workload allows me to complete 202 miles while still retaining energy.

    Give it a try...

  2. Hello VV riders,

    Here is the portion of an email I sent to VV HPTeam this morning ... regarding Velodrome.

    I was on bike for 2 mo in 2006 then join ride with the Gopher Wheelmen Racing Club [I did not know they are racers] ... and they look at me little bit weird when I sprint often to be in 3rd - 5th spot ... but then I left bigger gap so they all fill in ... and I did not like them at all. I think they were mean to me and I was tired from sprinting from 15th+ position to get up the the 3rd-5th (I read some book/site said that is the safest spot to be) ... but I think after they saw me riding up there ... who want to be next to a dangerous rider? I thought I was good until I see how tight and straight their tires in a straight line! I know I am not at their level so I look for Velodrome class ... after the class I came out and ride with them again = HAPPY!

    Saving skin and $,
    After the Velodrome class until today = NO CRASH for me! But there was 3 X that the situation in the pack would put me in a crash if I have not taken the Velodrome class. One of them was at Opus crit race this year when 12+ riders went down in front of me ... and I was the 13th wheel from that crash pack and I was able to stay calm and got out only about 4 inches from all the guys handle bar. I noticed they all panic before the crash and screaming while I was calm and got out. Often after a crash will cost us minimum couple hundred $ to fix our bike or some case end up in the hospital ... so I am very serious when come to safety and my equipment. I felt like after the class I got bike kungfu and can ride defensively and knowing who to follow and who NOT to follow. Most of the time, I can predict danger before it even happen!

    For example:
    On Sunday, I asked Oanh to move to Steve or Mike's wheel 3 min before the crash happen!
    She can tell you all about it! Many newer rider or guest in this case did not mean to take you down but they will do no matter what and it will happen.
    Best to keep them in the back for a few rides ... so in case if he/she crash ... maybe only one or two go down instead of all of us.
    On Sunday was only 17mph @ the time ... Can you imagine if it happen @ 27mph around Lake Mille Lac last Sat?

    Both my 2 crashes in 2006 involved kids and were on a GATEWAY trail ... so going at high speed in any trail is again my cycling religion UNLESS IT IS A STRAIGHT AWAY and NO SIGN OF DOG, KIDS, OLD PEOPLE TOO! It is fun and all but when you see one of your teammate go down = IT's HURT and NO FUN! NO JERSEY OR BIB TO WEAR AFTER SOMETIME.

    At Jesse James 2009,
    I chose the smallest VV rider to stay behind, no draft for me and he often speed up 1-2 mph faster then current paceline. He took his cleat out of his pedal before in a paceline, he stop pedaling when we ride into the wind ... on and on and consider the least favor wheel for any smart rider to stay behind in a fast paceline ... But I chose to stay behind him in a fast paceline because he is our teammate! He is our rookie, and he gave his best of what he knew was his best ... so I took the risk and minimize the risk of anyone go down with him [the pack was all VV + Nick] ... the ride was success ... and the team was happy! I have not share with you about this matter and it did cost me much energy to do so ... I was tired and end up finish last!

    Who want to attend Velodrome class?
    Jeff and I talk about this 2 years ago ... that if we get VV there ... He and I will even join YOU guys again because the class is so fun and who know after the class you will kick our butt. LOL!

    OK Who want to take this opportunity to ride at the Velodrome? I will update!

    ps! You guys will look the best on the road if 10+ of you will take this class. You can touch wheel and lean on each other without getting nervous! If you have 100 riders around you and only inches away from your handle bar ... your HR still low. NOT before this class right?