solo vs pulling effort



globecanvas

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May 2, 2011
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Heated discussion on a small group ride today. All else being equal, I think it takes more effort to ride at the same speed if you're pulling the group, vs riding solo. Everyone else said I was full of it.

It's tough because all else is never equal (like, pride makes you ride harder when pulling, and you've expended less effort overall during the ride so you have more energy in the tank). But for me at least I get a definite sensation of drag from the guys behind me when I'm pulling.

What do you guys think?
 

daveryanwyoming

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Oct 3, 2006
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Nope, actually the opposite is true. The leader taking a pull gets a very small but measurable aerodynamic advantage from the riders behind them that disrupt the low pressure region of air flow behind the lead rider.

Unless your buddies are hanging onto your saddle you're not working harder because they're back there beyond what you've already mentioned about unspoken pressure to ride faster because others are around you.

-Dave
 

globecanvas

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May 2, 2011
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Do you have any sort of link or reference for that information? I'd like to find out more about how full of it I am :)
 

daveryanwyoming

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http://www.trainingandracingwithapowermeter.com/2010/04/does-drafting-benefit-leading-rider_23.html
 

globecanvas

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May 2, 2011
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That's great, thank you! That article also links to this one, which has a similar finding (that the lead rider experiences slightly less drag than he would if riding solo): http://www.deskeng.com/articles/aaabey.htm

As a statistician myself, I'd stop short of saying that the evidence proves a benefit for the lead rider, but it's clear that there's not a measurable cost to the lead rider, so I have indeed been shown to be full of it.
 

daveryanwyoming

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Originally Posted by globecanvas .
As a statistician myself, I'd stop short of saying that the evidence proves a benefit for the lead rider.....
Agreed, but coupled with fluid dynamics theory which predicts the lowered drag and coupled with real world examples like NASCAR racing where the effect is very visible it's more than plausible that drag to the leading rider is actually reduced albeit by a very small amount.

But the bottom line is that as you noted there is no evidence nor theory that supports the lead rider actually working harder when other riders are drafting, at worst it makes no difference.

-Dave
 

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