Group Riding: Momentum, Part 4


When traveling as a group, there is a constant accordion effect happening. Gaps between riders change constantly as the speed shifts ever so slightly. When you’re in a long paceline approaching a hill, the front rider will hit that hill and slow down considerably. Meanwhile, everyone behind that rider has the benefit of their draft, and will thus maintain some type of momentum longer than the leading rider. This compounds many times over until the last rider will find themselves often times having to brake heading into a steep climb.

Now, again, the point of the group is to stay together and to utilize each other to move efficiently at speed. Braking is never going to be efficient heading into a climb. There are three things to think about when you are heading into a climb then:

1. If you’re on the front, accelerate slightly if the hill is steep. This will give the group a bit of a stretching action, which will be counteracted by the more rapid rate of the riders in the rear half of the group. This will serve everyone in staying reasonably spaced behind you and not create a whip at the back of the group as riders brake, but are then forced to then reaccelerate sharply.


2. In the paceline, it is better to jump out of line than to brake. This applies to almost any time you are in the group, but specifically when the group rapidly compresses forcing you to either create space for it to compress, or to brake. When you brake, everyone behind you must brake which kills momentum like nothing else. But if the rider in front of you slows, you can absorb this by moving slightly out of line up next to the rider in front of you momentarily, to let the rider behind you to fill the gap you previously occupied. This then allows for compression but also keeps you from braking; instead, you coast. When the pace steadies, you can roll back, point to the spot you were previously in, and the rider now occupying it will slow to allow you to hop back in line.

Maintain momentum at all costs. And remember, coasting is better than braking!

art five will be dropping soon right here! Check back for that piece on wheel protection!

Miss part three? Check it out here: