Home

What to do...

We have a club ride on Fridays.

There's usually a group of about 8-12 who split from the main ride and keep a pretty good pace. The roads here are flat and straight so we do turns on the front. Sometimes it's quite hard work at 45+km/h but often we are just cruising along at 38-40km/h.

Anyway in the last few weeks a new rider has joined us who sits on the wheels and never does any turns. It's quite remarkable to watch. He clearly knows how a group works and plays it to avoid ever getting to the front. If he accidentally gets to second wheel he starts looking around, leaving a little gap, then a bit bigger and looking for an opportunity to drop back. He doesn't just signal and move out, he breaks it up and uses that as cover to drop back. Today I was even pointing to the gap in front of him and telling him to close up.

He's not a weak rider. He even has the nerve to go with the sprint at the end. He's clearly perfectly capable of keeping the cruising pace.

What does the panel think ? I have to say something to him, but should I tell him he's a parasitic wheelsucker or be a little more conciliatory.

He wears an Astana top too, which in itself is worthy of reproach.

30 comments

Avatar
step.doran [62 posts] 6 years ago
0 likes

Are you the only one noticing this? could you not just gang up and (subtly) force him up the front?

Avatar
Old Cranky [257 posts] 6 years ago
0 likes

Attack and drop him.  4

Avatar
abudhabiChris [692 posts] 6 years ago
0 likes

Oh no I'm not the only one to notice. Several of us were having a laugh today as we watched him gradually get to second wheel only to find a convenient moment to move out of the line.

As one of them said, you had to admire the subtlety of the man's work - he clearly puts a lot of thought into it.

Attack and drop him might work but only if we did it en masse and that's hard with 10 riders, some of whom are weaker than him.

That's what I find so annoying. We have a 14 year old who comes out with us sometimes (this is a 100-120km ride) and he takes a turn even if it's only 10 seconds.

I could get in front of him with one or two of the other strong riders (not hard obviously) and gradually drop back to leave a gap, then jump across and leave him. That would work.  19

Avatar
bikeylikey [213 posts] 6 years ago
0 likes

Why is he such a problem though? It's a training ride, not a race. Doing that in a race would be very bad form indeed. Having a go in the sprint is bad manners, he should obviously be sitting up before the sprint. I've come across wheel suckers like this in training rides, mainly because they're not up to it, or not well, or don't know the form. But on the whole nobody's that bothered - they're not depriving anyone of glory, or even of a good workout. Why don't you just talk to him? 'Ive noticed you don't like taking your turn on the front. Do you have some sort of problem with it?' (in a sympathetic voice, as if he might have a phobia about being exposed up there. Actually, maybe he does, it involves some responsibility for the pace, maybe he's scared of that).

Avatar
abudhabiChris [692 posts] 6 years ago
0 likes
bikeylikey wrote:

Why is he such a problem though? It's a training ride, not a race. Doing that in a race would be very bad form indeed. Having a go in the sprint is bad manners, he should obviously be sitting up before the sprint. I've come across wheel suckers like this in training rides, mainly because they're not up to it, or not well, or don't know the form. But on the whole nobody's that bothered - they're not depriving anyone of glory, or even of a good workout. Why don't you just talk to him? 'Ive noticed you don't like taking your turn on the front. Do you have some sort of problem with it?' (in a sympathetic voice, as if he might have a phobia about being exposed up there. Actually, maybe he does, it involves some responsibility for the pace, maybe he's scared of that).

The problem is that it breaks up the pace and the rhythm. We ride as a pretty tight group. Everyone comes through and takes their turn.

Those who can't or don't want to take a turn sit on the back and let the other riders go into the line. Nobody would have a problem with that.

But he sneaks out from his position by leaving gaps so it slows down the line behind, which is potentially dangerous.
Then the rider behind him has to make up three or four bike lengths to get back to the front wheel.
Or if the front rider has pulled away and called through before the gap is made up then there is a godawful mess.

It's really pissing people off.

Maybe I'll say something but today I was next to him and pointing to the empty gap as he dropped back and motioning him to come up and he just ignored me.

There are slower groups behind BTW, so if he doesn't feel strong enough he has other options. But it's not that. And he knows the form - if he didn't he wouldn't be able to do what he is doing.

I like the attacking option best so far.

Avatar
paulj [20 posts] 6 years ago
0 likes

Has anyone actually talked to him about it? I normally ride alone, and would definitely not know how to manage tight group riding like you explain, but if I had a go and got it wrong I would rather someone just talked to me about it straight.

Avatar
TheHatter [770 posts] 6 years ago
0 likes

Explain that if he doesn't do his turn in future you will punch him square on the nose. Its the only thing these people understand.

Avatar
demoff [327 posts] 6 years ago
0 likes

I would talk to him first, people don't always realise the impact that their actions have. Tell him that the group rides the way you have explained and that you expect him to take his turn on the front. Is there a reason he doesn't want to go on the front? You need to talk to him or else you are not going to resolve it.

I have been on Club runs when a rider goes tearing of the front breaking up the rhythm he was told that he had to do more turns and keep it steady.

Avatar
Fish_n_Chips [493 posts] 6 years ago
0 likes

What demoff said ^^^

Just be positive in the approach. Who is ride leader or club leader? have chat with the others?

I personally don't mind and maybe he is just scared who knows? but if everyone agrees then tell him to take his turn.

I don't take my turn as much as I'm not fit from my injury but I will it give it a go until a friends gets fed of my speed and overtakes me laughing!

Before any ride you need the leader to dictate the ride and what is involved/expected.

Avatar
abudhabiChris [692 posts] 6 years ago
0 likes

Yes probably best to try to talk to him, although as I said, we've been trying to make it clear.

If someone starts to point to the space you've left and wave you into it, that's pretty unambiguous.

Part of the problem is (and this is why I was interested in seeing if other people had dealt with the same thing) we don't really have a ride leader.

In Abu Dhabi there is no 'club' or non-profit entity in a legal sense, so we don't have a committee and club officers or a ride captain. Plus the fact that people come and go fairly frequently means the rides evolve over time. We have a few senior riders and people who organise stuff, like me, so I guess on of us will have to say something.

Avatar
simonmb [353 posts] 6 years ago
0 likes

The obvious thing to do is to talk to him, and if that fails send him a link to this post.

Avatar
DaSy [704 posts] 6 years ago
0 likes

I've ended up leading a few fairly large but informal rides from my LBS, and had similar issues with some fairly crazy riding etiquette, and ended up by getting everyone together at the start of the ride before we set off and stating the way the ride was going to go, ie,

We stop at red lights

We roll off the front, no jumping round from behind (yeah, they were really doing that!).

If you don't want to take a turn on the front, you either roll off with the front rider or stay at the back and let the rider dropping back tuck in in front of you.

Hold a steady pace, no sprinting off when you hit the front and dying after 200 yards and leaving the line shattered.

It works if you get all to agree before you set off, as all feel like they have bought in to the plan.

Avatar
monty dog [460 posts] 6 years ago
0 likes

First time he gets on the front, leave him there for the next 10 miles! If it was my group ride, I'd certainly have a word and explain what's the deal with joining-in on the group - I'm quite happy to let weaker riders sit-on for a whole ride, but if riders sit-on for most of the ride and then starting jumping around near the finish, I'll start making life more difficult.

Avatar
James Warrener [1083 posts] 6 years ago
0 likes

Astana top you say  39

Avatar
Simon_MacMichael [2466 posts] 6 years ago
0 likes

I like DaSy's idea of pre-ride talk. You could preface it by maybe saying "We haven't done one of these by a couple of months but we have some new members, so..." and go on to say what's on and what isn't *

If he still keeps doing it, pick him up on it one on one afterwards.

* Pointedly staring at him during relevant bits optional  3

Avatar
timlennon [210 posts] 6 years ago
0 likes

I have no experience whatsoever in such riding, but would also advocate finding some method to actually talk to him about it. It does sound like bad form, and you don't want to spend an entire ride annoyed at someone you're riding with in such a close group ...

Do let us know what happens!

Avatar
abudhabiChris [692 posts] 6 years ago
0 likes

Yes well Friday will be the next opportunity, and after the week I've had I'm ready to bite someone's head off.

The pre-ride talk idea doesn't really work. About a quarter of the group starts at one end of town and people (I think including Mr Astana) join us as we ride along the Corniche so by the time we get out and onto the open road we have about 40 in total.

Then the hammer goes down and we split up into at least two groups on the way out, and sometimes three or four on the way home. But other times we all stay together.

It's very anarchic which is why we tend to end up with that 'elite' group of people who are basically the core cyclists who want a proper group ride.

BTW we also have a Newbies ride every month for people who aren't used to group riding, and on the website and forum there are several links to descriptions of ride etiquette.
http://www.abudhabitriclub.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=allthingscyclis... .
Even the triathletes have managed to work it out  26

It will have to be a quiet word on the road, and a surprise attack if he doesn't fall into line.

Avatar
simonmb [353 posts] 6 years ago
0 likes

After all this advice, I hope he bloody well turns up to ride!  3

Avatar
vorsprung [282 posts] 6 years ago
0 likes

Seeing as the training ride is supposed to be training for racing I suggest you bitch and moan at the bloke

Then he will say he'd love to take a turn on the front, but team orders, y'know

Avatar
abudhabiChris [692 posts] 6 years ago
0 likes

Slight anti-climax but I don't think this one is finished.

I spoke to him - nicely. I even introduced myself first and shook hands, at our drink stop.

His English isn't great so I had to speak loudly and slowly and do lots of little play-acting to help.  22

I just said that when he was in the line we noticed he often left gaps and that made it difficult for the people behind. So if he was riding in the line - especially with the fast group - he needed to keep close and come through on his turn, even if only for a few seconds.

He seemed to agree and said OK.

But then he joined one of the slower, looser groups after that.

Result for us either way really. For him too - a couple of the Very Fast Riders had come out with malevolent intent until I told them I was going to speak to him.

The test will be if and when he joins the fast group again.

As a reminder of why this sort of thing matters, we had a bloke carted off in an ambulance today - not in our group but one of the slower groups. I'm told he was at the back and hit some debris on the road that hadn't been signalled by the riders ahead. Basic stuff.

When you ride in a group you ride as a group for very good reasons.

Avatar
Old Cranky [257 posts] 6 years ago
0 likes

You've not resolved the problem, you've shifted it to another group.  26

Out of interest, what sort of debris do you get on the road in Abu Dhabi?

Avatar
abudhabiChris [692 posts] 6 years ago
0 likes
Old Cranky wrote:

You've not resolved the problem, you've shifted it to another group.  26

Out of interest, what sort of debris do you get on the road in Abu Dhabi?

True, although the other groups don't ride as fast or as tightly so the effect is diminished.

Debris is our main problem here. The roads themselves are brilliant - mostly new, very wide, big hard shoulders and wonderfully smooth.

But there is so much construction work and freight, and some of the trucks and companies are run without a great deal of regard for health and safety.

So you often get stuff that has just fallen off open trucks - wood, metal, gravel - or that has been scattered around in an accident.

And they seem to shred a huge number of tires - I guess they use retreads a lot - so you can get great strips of rubber lying around, and of course we are riding on the side or hard shoulder where it all gets thrown.

The standard puncture out here is a small piece of metal, a little like a straightened-out staple. I believe it's from the tires.

And although the roads are generally good they don't seem to maintain them much. They just build new ones. So there are some bits where maybe some wet concrete has dropped from a truck and hardened or for some reason the road has been deformed and it will stay that way for years. It can be quite a large lump or hole - the sort of thing they would close two lanes and take six weeks to fix in the UK. But generally we know where they are.

Avatar
Stofish [61 posts] 6 years ago
0 likes

I apologise in advance if I'm missing something here.
It seems to me that poor etiquette seems to be not only of the cycling variety...

I'm imagining an Arabic cycling forum where they are discussing an English bloke trying to tell a local how to ride a bike by pointing and talking loud and slow in a foreign language...

Perhaps you should try communicating in his (I'm assuming the local) language?

I am making a lot of assumptions here, but if I understanding well, try and sort out the log in your own eye before examining the speck in his.

Avatar
timlennon [210 posts] 6 years ago
0 likes

And it's unfair to say roads close for six weeks in the UK, Chris. Our road-centric society means that a huge amount of motorway work now happens at night, so as not to inconvenience the driving public ... Aside from any cycle-centric observations, a lot of main-road work now seems to be handled in a very quick and efficient manner, imo.

Avatar
abudhabiChris [692 posts] 6 years ago
0 likes

Is Oct 19 now National Take People Way Too Seriously Day ?

Tim... hyperbole.

Stofish ... the emoticon is your clue.

He's not a local, he's Russian I believe or something ex-Soviet. Nevertheless how do people learn in any cycling group - they watch and copy. You don't need to speak the language. We have Arabs, French, Spaniards, a Mexican, Italians, a Hungarian even Australians and they've all managed to pick it up.

Sheesh...

... now which Australian is going to point out they speak English ?

Avatar
Stofish [61 posts] 6 years ago
0 likes

Chris, I stand corrected and must admit that this information totally changes the context for me.
Sorry for assuming too much (didn't realise that was a Russian emoticon).

James.

Avatar
abudhabiChris [692 posts] 6 years ago
0 likes

No worries, it was meant to be a straight face i.e. deadpan.

I thought it was witty in an emoticonical way, but maybe I should have gone for the unambiguous  3 .

Avatar
Rob747 [2 posts] 6 years ago
0 likes

Hi
I'm visiting Abu Dhabi next week.
Where do you meet? Could I join you?
Promise i'll do my turn!
thx

Rob

Avatar
abudhabiChris [692 posts] 6 years ago
0 likes

Hi Rob,

What dates are you going to be there ? I'm away this week 24th but can hook you up with people. The Friday ride leaves from the carpark of Spinneys supermarket (Khalidiya branch) at 0530 sharp.

A lot of people will be doing a triathlon this Friday but there will still be a group riding.

If it's the week after I'll be around. I've PMd you my details.

Lots of details on the tri club website: www.abudhabitriclub.org or there is a forum too www.abudhabitriclub.proboards.com .

Avatar
abudhabiChris [692 posts] 6 years ago
0 likes

So, update after the Friday ride - he is no longer a wheelsucker.

Came through like a good'un, did his turn and dropped back.

So there you go, all those wise heads who cautioned the direct and polite approach - result.  1