I rarely ride on the road. And when I do, most of the time it's just a way to get from one piece of singletrack to another. On yesterday's Christmas Party Ride I was reminded of how much drafting can affect your ride.
There was four of us in the group; ted, mark, tom, and myself. On our way to Mistletoe we were all together, and pretty quickly found ourselves in a tight paceline with either Mark or Ted pulling at the front, I was in either the 3rd or 4th spot. At some point I realized we were really hauling butt.
I looked down at the speedometer and saw that I was going 25mph, on a dead flat road, on a mtn bike, with 2" wide knobby tires with less than 25psi in them. And it was easy. If I had dropped off the back of the group I'd have never caught them.
On the way back to Keg Mark and Ted were out front somewhere and Tom and I rode in together. He got ahead of me pulling onto Ridge Rd and I had to really crank to catch up, but once I was on his wheel I enjoyed the easy pedalling for a while. Somewhere along the way I went around and took my turn at the front.
So, I guess my point is, next time you do a connector ride, do your best to hit the road with someone else. And stay close. It'll save you a ton of energy. But don't forget to spend a little time at the front yourself.
As a bonus, when it's cold out, it's much warmer when you're drafting behind someone.
This is a good strategy to use if you are on a SS. If you can get on a wheel, tuck in behind it and try to stay on it.
If I had been on my SS yesterday I'm pretty sure I'd have been dropped. At the pace we were riding, and my gear ratio, I just can't spin that fast for very long.
But, on the final descent at the Snake (a 2 mile paved descent off a mtn) I have been able to hang with geared riders pedalling the whole way down, and me coasting.
When you get too close for comfort, don't hit the brake, just catch some air and let it slow you down a bit. Sit up taller, drift to the side a bit, flare out your elbows, whatever works. Grabbing the brake is dangerous if someone is riding your wheel. No sudden movements.