/ Hanging onto the back of a group in a sportive
I got up to the front occasionally and tried to do my time up there, but not being a very strong rider, it wasn't for long before someone came past me. I was dropped at about 70km.
My friend hung onto the back of the group running an average heartrate of 165, which is 90%, so he was working very hard just to hold on, never got up to the front because people pushed into gaps as they developed.
When the group split on the final climb he found himself somewhere in the middle of the finishers and finished inside the top 10 overall, a great result he thought.
Apparently the whole club is really annoyed with him for not taking his share of the wind. He tried to - but couldn't get up there.
Is he in the wrong? How else could he have ridden it without annoying them?
165 seems low for 90%, assuming hes same age as you?
Even so, if he was just hanging on, it cant be helped, and the club concerned should be ignored. Especially if noone mentioned whislst actually riding. It does depend a bit if he suddenly found energy and sprinted past members of the group on final climb, but assuming he stayed at the back i cant see a prob with it
Club etiquette eh? Got to love it. If you suck wheels then pop out of a slipstream for the win or placing then you're taking the mick but if you're genuinely maxed hanging on the back then you're riding at your limit and deserve a pat on the back rather than a slagging.
What did the guys expect him to do? Say 'sorry lads, I don't belong in this company I'll just sit up now'
It is bad form, and it is only polite to ask, if you intend just hanging on the back. I've had people sit on my tail, drafting, out of the wind. It really annoys me, unless they ask, or share the workload. Drafting can save upto 20% of the energy required. So it's not really fair to do it, without asking.
I had the opposite on a sportive once.
Tracking across a particularly windy Scottish road.
I was the big diesel engine on the front taking all the wind.
None of the skinny fckuers would come round and take a turn, despite me swinging off repeately.
They all just soft-peddalled until I headed up the line again.
So I just put the hammer down and dropped them, all 15 of the lazy barstewards!
They were all over the place after that, fighting to stay at the back of the group. They almost ground to a halt.
> What did the guys expect him to do? Say 'sorry lads, I don't belong in this company I'll just sit up now'
No - "Look lads, I'm fairly new to this and pretty much knackered, there's no way I can come through at this pace, do you mind if I sit on the back."
That's a long sentence to speak when you can't breathe ;-)
It's poor form not to share the workload. I'd be annoyed too. I'm sure his next ride out with those guys will be a little more difficult.
I've had something similar, a club group of 5 or 6 seemed to be a bit annoyed when I sat at the back, but were even more annoyed when I went to the front.
Not sure if they were doing a sportive, I was just out on my full-suss for the day.......
I think this case is a little more complicated because it sounds like he beat some of the guys from the group who did do some work.
What is a sportive; I assume this isn't just a road race? I used to race (almost 20 years ago now) but it's not a term OI'm familiar with.
Typical club roady attitude, it's like drivers who have the time to beep their horns to show disgust. It's a sportive not even a proper race, club should have worked harder and done a job on the independents if they're really that serious.
Its a organised ride with arrows and marshals and food stops, where you can ride for a fast time or just to finish.
Thanks, so like a timed audax then? No prizes for placing or anything?
I suppose if it was a smallish group, 3 or 4 riders, then it would be a bit annoying if someone just hung on the back. Much more than that then it seems a bit prima donna to get bent out of shape about being pipped in a glorified training ride.
It's not a sport that sets out to win friends that's for sure.
same here none of the cycling clubs iv seen on the road seem to have that great an attitute certainly doesnt make you want to join in there little clubs.
Yeah a bit like a quickish audax without the quirky mudguard rules, to get round the rules of racing on the road they introduced mass start sportives a few years back, where there are no prizes just a time across the line.
No licence or points either, it is effectively a race though and some fast times always happen.
Ok, a race that isn't a race. I suppose I don't really have a handle on how important finishing positions are. Obviously some people take them very seriously.....
> Ok, a race that isn't a race. I suppose I don't really have a handle on how important finishing positions are. Obviously some people take them very seriously.....
I never got how people moan about sportives turning into unofficial races. Take 500 people, put them on 500 posh bikes, give them 100 miles of fantastic countryside to ride through but then say "by the way you're not allowed to race!"
Aint gonna happen.
The point is that if the guy had taken a turn on the front like everyone else and buried himself, like everyone else, for 30 seconds or a minute, then everyone would have got a better time.
It's like this: if you're aiming for 7hrs on the Fred Whitton, you're more likely to get that time if you have a good strong group to work with. If everyone was a wheel suckin do nothin, then you'd really struggle to meet your goal.
He was strong enough to take a turn. Proven by his "finish"
It's a bit like climbing through a slower group without asking or acknowledging them. You're breaking an unspoken rule.
It's a time trial that you're allowed to draught in. That's all.
In the middle of the bunch in a proper road race is without doubt the most exciting place I've ever been.
I find it's a bit like boxing but with 60 people in the ring - imagine the joy of being the last person standing in the ring. Afterwards everyone is friends where I race. First thing I do is go and shake hands with the winner. If you're ever on the podium everyone sticks around to congratulate you.
Oh, don't get me wrong, I wasn't being critical. It sounds like fun, and the sort of thing that I would enjoy. I was just trying to get a handle on the aims and general etiquette, with respect to the OPs story. Was his mate being a bit cheeky, or was this club group a bunch of weenies who need to pony up for a licence?
> The point is that if the guy had taken a turn on the front like everyone else and buried himself, like everyone else, for 30 seconds or a minute, then everyone would have got a better time.
> It's like this: if you're aiming for 7hrs on the Fred Whitton, you're more likely to get that time if you have a good strong group to work with. If everyone was a wheel suckin do nothin, then you'd really struggle to meet your goal.
> He was strong enough to take a turn. Proven by his "finish"
> It's a bit like climbing through a slower group without asking or acknowledging them. You're breaking an unspoken rule.
+1 see my post higher up about it being a little more complicated. If you can finish halfway down a bunch I find it hard to see how you couldn't do the tiniest of pulls on the front.
What he said.....
Yes and when you've buried yourself up the road enough times and then gone straight off the back you learn there are no unspoken rules, just you, a few mates and some other folk, sometimes you team up, sometimes you go up the road and get lucky. If you want to ride a fast time for a specific objective with a team well plan for that and if a few chippers get a tow good effort to em for hanging on.
It's almost as if you were there.
> Oh, don't get me wrong, I wasn't being critical. It sounds like fun, and the sort of thing that I would enjoy. I was just trying to get a handle on the aims and general etiquette, with respect to the OPs story. Was his mate being a bit cheeky, or was this club group a bunch of weenies who need to pony up for a licence?
Maybe a bit of both.
It's funny in a sportive because some people are more serious than others.
> Maybe a bit of both.
> It's funny in a sportive because some people are more serious than others.
The same in mtb xc with the guys who'd ride sport and fun instead of expert as they'd get a better placing, horse for courses really cos unless someones paying us and giving us bikes and gear to race on, it just a hobby:+)
Right, I suppose that's what I meant by my 'race that isn't a race' comment; it sounds a bit ambiguous, which can often lead to hurt butts and thrown teddys.
No, you made the effort and showed willing which is great. Best bit about sportives for me is riding with a group of strangers for a faster time and even if they only put in a few seconds on the front they've joined in.
Why some people want ride with a group without ever saying hello and taking part I don't know.
I was chatting to the club fellas and explaining that I was new to the sportive thing and was it ok if I hung on and tried to do my turn when I could, to which they were ok. I'm not sure my mate was talking to them or not, and if he asked permission to be there.
Perhaps his finish up the last hill does show that he had more in the bank than he was letting on - I have always accused him of this - riding to his heart rate monitor rather than to what he feels is his maximum. I'm sure when I went up to the front if I had a heart rate monitor I would have broken it! But then his strategy got him to the end still strong rather than crawling like me, so I can't really criticise him!
A sportive is a timed organised ride, where people start in waves and get a time at the end. For some, a team timetrial, for others a nice day out.
Right with you there. I'm (a) an old git, and (b) a total Fotherington-Thomas: I ride to go Hullo clouds Hullo sky. I don't even care if I'm up with the pace or not.
Which is not to say that I don't find it bloody impressive what those maniacs do; it's just, I feel not the slightest need to emulate them. I'm on my bike for fun, not for pain.
It's only etiquette though and that exists in countless other sports - not least climbing.
Besides, Sportives aren't races, despite what some participants like to believe.
> It's only etiquette though and that exists in countless other sports - not least climbing.
Depends where you are.
Well yes obviously. But is that what happened here?
On the other hand a bunch of serious, experienced riders should be able to suss a newbie out and be more encouraging.
Audax is more like long distance riding between cafe stops / controls. Very different ethos than sport ives and attracts different sorts of riders. Audax has min / max speeds to help manage controls and stop people racing. Min distance for Audax is 200 km (130 miles) and go up via 300km, 400km, 600km, 1000km etc. this time of year the Audax events are generally moving into 300km distances. There are 100 km bevet populaire, which are there to encourage beginners to get into the world of Audax. Audax is also not signed, you need to navigate.
It's not a proper race, so your mate didn't get a top 10 finish. So, in truth, the club riders have very little to be upset about. If he was blowing out of his *rse to that extent they should have upped the workrate briefly and dropped him, if it was troubling them so much.
It's easy to turn a joyful experience like riding in a fast group into an utterly joyless one simply by imposing too picky an etiquette, or being too worried about following it.
> 165 seems low for 90%, assuming
I wouldn't be that high.. max heart rates vary loads, mine's very low at max.. never over 170.
Saying that she was a stunning blonde..
Seems petty.. but also they should just say something there and then, not bitch away.
I have to say that it does sound like he had something in reserve. In my club it works like this. The middle order group (3) is usually fairly shambolic - people stay on the front at a sustainable pace and mostly take turns when they feel like it. The next faster group (4) is a lot more consistent and you're expected to do your bit, but no-one gets overly fussed. The next faster group (5) is serious. Everyone takes their turn on the front, but if you're new to the group and struggling no-one minds so long as you're visibly busting a gut to keep up. They'll have rules of the day for dropping people and picking them up again, or not. If you're not working hard enough and drafting the whole way, they'll drop you though - because you need to learn some manners.
The fastest group (6) tries to go out as an eight - 2 minutes gasping on the front, 6 or so minutes to recover. If there's not eight of them, it's harder. If you can't keep up with them, you're in the wrong group.
There's a place for everyone, including hello clouds, hello sky in (1) and (2)
> I was chatting to the club fellas and explaining that I was new to the sportive thing and was it ok if I hung on and tried to do my turn when I could, to which they were ok. I'm not sure my mate was talking to them or not, and if he asked permission to be there.
> Perhaps his finish up the last hill does show that he had more in the bank than he was letting on - I have always accused him of this - riding to his heart rate monitor rather than to what he feels is his maximum. I'm sure when I went up to the front if I had a heart rate monitor I would have broken it! But then his strategy got him to the end still strong rather than crawling like me, so I can't really criticise him!
The fact that it finished up hill is an interesting one to me. I've done some cycling in little groups before and found on the flat I physically can't come through because even cranking the effort right up when someone has swung off I've not been matching their pace, and it's all I can do to hang on the back. However when the road has started to go up I've found myself riding off the front with no increase in effort.
A lot of sportive riders seem to have reasonable sustainable power but a poor power to weight ratio. If you're the other way round with poor overall power but also negligible weight it can be tricky to do anything productive in a bunch until you start climbing.
Of course if he's not a skinny oik this probably doesn't apply.
Club ride today - last 5 miles in the rain on a flat fast section I towed a couple of guys in my slipstream, none come through to take a turn then in the last 1/3k one of them, a younger whippersnapper, overtakes and speeds off to the finish. I put it down to youthful, new rider, naiive exuberance but I did have a gentle friendly dig! :-)
Well you should fit in here then.
Can't say I'm looking forward to it.
You've entered some sportifs? Ooooeeeerr missus!
If I'm out solo and catch up with a slower rider I'll always offer them a wheel. It goes back to a day many years ago when a roadie towed me home at the end of a 7 hour ride on a Polaris event, saving me from some very costly late finish penalty points.
I really have to disagree with these disparaging remarks about cycling clubs - my experience is that they are very open and supportive and are a stark contrast to most of the climbing clubs that I have experienced - certainly in Scotland. I am now in the Deeside Thistle Cycle club, throughout the week there are numerous rides, and turbo training sessions open to all comers. This is a stark contrast to the climbing scene up here. One exception has to be the Lancashire Cavers and climbers - they are truly a club!
Elsewhere on the site
This streamlined, midweight thermal layer has an incredibly speedy moisture wicking ability and dries ultra fast if it gets... Read more
October 21, 2014 – Textile Exchange, a global nonprofit dedicated to sustainability in the apparel and textile industry,... Read more
The B.D.V. — short for Black Diamond Vertical — jacket and pants are Black Diamond’s most versatile climbing... Read more
In tonight's Friday Night Video, we see Alex Honnold soloing Heaven 5.12d in Yosemite Valley. The route starts 3000ft above the... Read more
Last year, Finn McCann wrote an article about climbing El Capitan with his terminally ill father Seamus, who had been... Read more