Practise safe group riding...

Too good to miss, I posted this on rec.sport.triathlon earlier and thought I'd save a copy here. The question was, can I use my Tri bike on group rides with regular road bikers?

Jimmy wrote:
> Thank you all for your comments - I pretty much had the same feeling
> that a tri bike was not going to be appropriate for a roadie group.

Well hold on...

I was going to contribute earlier, but ran short on time, besides I didn't want to start a flame war...

I regularly ride my Cannondale tri bike, which is fully kitted out with Syntace C2 bars, Spinergy x-rev wheels, profile aero cage behind the saddle etc. with road bike groups. I think the thing to say is that  generally they will feel uncomfortable if you ride with them, and will feel especially uncomfortable if you use the aero bars.

It’s up to you to prove you are safe, you can ride with a group, and generally that means no aero bars. A co-triathlete once asked me, while out on a big roadie ride(40+ people), "is it ok if I use his tri bars?" My response without thinking was, "sure, if you'd turn up to an orgy without condoms!"

The point is the same. You might know you are safe, the others don't. You might think you are safe, every ride is a test; unless you arrive back safely you are not safe. You might think they are safe, but unless you've ridden with each any everyone before, and you know they are safe, then its not an acceptable risk.

Group riding is a relatively safe activity if everyone concentrates and follows a few basic rules. It only takes a stone kicked up by a lead rider, and a couple of people behind not paying attention to cause a ripple effect that brings down half a dozen(err thats six) people towards the back.

If you are not able to reach your brakes quickly enough becuase you are on the tri bars, you might be one. Group crashes are often more painful than solo ones, theres a lot of extra metal flying around in a group pile up, even if your top end group does ride mostly carbon bikes...

Worse crime of all is if some road debris, a hole, or other reason comes up ahead that you'd normally dealt with no problem, but becuase you didn't see it until right on top, wobble slightly becuase you are on your tri bars, you bring down people behind you.

So, go ride your tri bike in the roadie group. If its a B or B+ or faster ride, hang off the back by 5ft-7ft, you probably will anyway, still don't use your tri bars. Watch the group ahead. See what they do, how they react etc. If you are a strong rider, go on the front, but make sure you can stay there for at least 1/2 mile, or however long the group normally take pulls from the front. There is nothing worse than some tri geek on a new bike who comes belting past, then can't hold the speed for more than about 100ft...

Make sure all your moves are calm and measured, always look around before pulling out or in, don't use your breaks unless you have to, keep your cycling going, even easy rather than idling...

and heck enjoy it. There is nothing more invigorating than getting out with a good B+ roadie group, averaging along at 22MPH, then after a while people start to crank up the speed, all of sudden you are doing 25MPH, 27MPH and it feels great, heck it feels easy... when you get to the next set of lights having kept with the group you feel fantastic, you've never cycled so fast, so far.

Then you remember, it was a group ride. DRAFTING SUCKS! Long live real triathlon

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