A drafty feeling

So as a amateur triathlete not competing in draft-legal racing I have as much use for drafting as the draft out of my rear end.  Which over time is a bit of a pickle I’ve decided.  See, from a training standpoint drafting on the bike is useless to me.  It doesn’t help my fitness in any way, and it creates false pretenses on what my real speed capability is.  The only thing it does help is handling skills.  But I’m not training in a group, so it’s really one on one situations I’m referring to here.

The problem is when I go out on some local trails (i.e. the W&OD trail), and I’m cruising along sometimes I’ll pass someone and then they start drafting.  No problemo.  I don’t mind if you draft of me, as I could care less if you want to look at my rear.  Nothing too exciting there. 

However, the problem comes when they go to pass me thinking that I’m party to their draft-fest.  See then I’m stuck in the weird position of having to not pass someone I specifically passed for the purpose of them going at a speed slower then mine.  Meaning, I’m now going slower than I intended because I think it would be rude to re-pass someone who just passed me 20 seconds prior.  There’s probably some weird rule about that.

Oh – but wait – it gets better.  Say I back off for a minute to get out of their draft.  Now they think that either I can’t hang with them, or… that I can’t hang with them.  And saying to the individual “Excuse me, do you mind getting out of my way while I pass you again and then leave you draftless?”  Somehow, I don’t think that flies.  See – there’s no good option here.

And lastly – a few weekends ago I was riding along and a cyclist (which was very clearly better than me, or had just started and I was at about mile 40) decided to start drafting off of me.    At some point along the way we passed some casual bikers on the road.  He disappeared somewhere out of view in the process due to oncoming traffic.  So I went ahead and got back into my little world about 6-12″ off the edge of the roadway.  Which was all great until I nearly ran him off the roadway.  See apparently at some point he caught up and put his wheel INSIDE of my wheel, within that 6-12″ inside the roadway.  When I moved around an oncoming pothole I nearly took him out.  Like I said, when I get going I’m in my own little world.  The last thing I expect is a dude close enough to me to actually grab stuff out of the back of my jersey – and of all places within the 6-12″ between me and the edge of the road.

Now – to be fair, the one thing that unwanted drafters do is cause me to go faster.  I can say without a doubt that I kick it up a notch and stay at that level for a long time.  I had a guy a few weeks ago stay on me for over 30 minutes while I was cruising along at 21+mph.  I was a wee bit tired after that effort, but it made for a bit of a nice tempo-ride.

So what do you do with unwanted drafters?  What is the protocol on undesired drafting?  Do you lead, follow or get out of the way?


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  1. i HATE unwanted drafters!!! and then when they pass you they want you to challenge…dude, we’re not on a team together so back the fuck off!! i say you send ’em a whole lotta that draft from your rear end.

  2. Yeah, the problem comes when, after riding 6 inches from you, he clips your back wheel, you crash, suffer injuries, he sails on, unidentified…. nope, drafting off strangers is NOT cool!

  3. After playing cat and mouse a few times, I like to smile, let them pass me, and inform them that I have to run 8 miles after this ride, so I better not spoil it playing games. That way, you make him realize that while he thought he was better than you, he’s not, because you are a triathlete and he is “just” a cyclist.

  4. What a great question. I’d think it’s just like a race – when you pass, do it with authority so they can’t hang on for too long. If you’ve already reeled them in from some distance away, they probably can’t hang for very long anyway.

  5. i wonder if i’ll have problems like this….

    somehow, i don’t think so. but i agree, it’s a pickle!

    no need to thank me…

  6. Dang you’ll be asking us which fork to use first next!

    Seriously though I have wondered the same on hills, how rude is it to hammer down on an uphill and pass people? It’s not me wanting then to look bad; it’s me wanting to get home after 3 hours in the saddle…yeah as a runner that’s about my limit.

  7. Wow. Do I live in some sort of bubble? I’ve never had someone draft off of me that I didn’t know. I’m sorry, but that’s not cool! Is it normal to do that in the biking world?

  8. If only you could fart on command …