Every road cyclist should have the opportunity to feel the adrenaline rush of riding fast in a pack. It is truly an exhilarating experience. While pack riding is an integral part of road racing, even group training rides or organized charity rides can involve large numbers of cyclists riding in close proximity at high speeds.
When riding close in a pack, you can feel the efficiency of the slipstream created by others around you. There is nothing else like it.
But, when someone makes a sudden movement, it's not just one person who risks hitting the pavement. This is one reason why road racing is such a high-tension discipline. However, when the pack is calm and fluid, it is a truly amazing feeling to be flying along at high speed with little effort.
Many of us have had the realization that in some fast races or training rides, you could fall off the back and be dropped for good if you don't ride smart inside the peloton. How many of us have ridden that long road home after getting dropped from a fast training ride?
There is some consolation knowing that even elite cyclists worry about "staying on" during hard races when their legs just don't have it. On those days when you don't have the strength to be up front pulling, riding tight and smart inside the pack can mean the difference between staying on and getting dropped. Here are some tips to help keep you riding smart, tight and safe in a pack.
TIP #1: Try not to maintain a prolonged overlap of a wheel with someone in front of you. What exactly does this mean? Look at this illustration:
Rider A is riding in a high-risk location relative to rider B by overlapping his front wheel with rider B's rear wheel. If rider B were to move suddenly to the left to avoid a road hazard, he would clip the front wheel of rider A. This forces rider A's front wheel to the left and causes him to fall right. Often, the result is a crash of rider A while rider B continues forward unscathed.