When a stranger wheelsucks.



maydog

Well-Known Member
Feb 5, 2010
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Howdy,

This has happened infrequently in the past summer. Today, for whatever reason, it happened no less than 4 times.

What was it, you ask? Drive by, stealth, random stranger wheelsucking / drafting. Not once did anyone ask whether it was OK, nor did they let me know what they were doing. Perhaps it was because I was trying to commute home easy with a hefty backpack and worn out from a hard ride the day before and today hill repeats, followed by weights, followed by swimming.

These were not the casual, happenstance occurrences either. These individuals were committed to riding my wheel. How do I know you ask, because I tested them.

Case 1: I was turning right at an intersection. The other rider was waiting for a light. I had to have had at least 20 seconds head start. One half mile down the road, I could see his shadow and hear his pedaling. I continued at the same pace for another 1/2 to see if they would pass or let me know he was there. He did not, so I sprinted away.

Case 2: A few miles later at another intersection, a rider blew by me when I was stopped. I quickly caught up as he was not cruising very fast (18ish). I kept my distance, there was no shoulder and the road is pretty busy. I made my move accelerating very quickly around him during a lull in traffic. I held speed to 24-25 for a few miles after which I realized he was on my wheel. I slowed a bit, no passing, no annoucement. I had enough and made a hard right followed by a hard left and a slight incline and pulled away.

Case 3: I went on some local trails around a lake and slowed my pace. After a while a cyclist, beathing heavily, went past me, let up and slowed. It was apparent that he was trying to catch me and once past was resting. I slowed some more to make distance - after a while I was bored with the pace and passed him as fast as I could muster (I was fatigued). He sped up to keep pace, I held the pace for a mile and he dropped off at a slight incline. He never acknowleded that he was behind me.

Case 4: The home stretch of trail was approximately 4 miles long. I usually do some time trials on it, but I was tired. Yet another cyclist caught up to me at the last intersection before the stretch. His pace was not fast, so I had to pass but I did not have much gas left. Regardless, I announced my pass and sprinted past about 25mph. I wanted to make distance so I held the pace and averaged 22mph for the stretch. Guess what, he was right on my wheel the whole time. At the very least, he said thanks when I looked back when I was turning off.

I do not like being followed by riders I don't know and who aren't courteous enough to make themselves known. I am not a charity event, does that make me a snob? Usually I am strong enough to make a gap, my sweeping generalization was that none of them were in competition form. I guess I could have said something to them, but I didn't want to be a jerk - what else is there to do?
 

daveryanwyoming

Well-Known Member
Oct 3, 2006
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Originally Posted by maydog .
... I guess I could have said something to them....
That's what I usually do, but it's nothing nasty, usually just a nod and a hello to acknowledge they're there. Who cares if someone sits on my wheel, it happens every time I race and I don't know or care about the skills of the guy behind me in races much of the time. Around here on the popular rides and trails it's pretty normal for folks to glue up on your wheel announced or otherwise, sure it's nicer when they say something but often they don't.

Sometimes it bugs me when I'm doing something like a 20 minute interval and they sit back there for a while then shoot around and try to take a pull. I don't want to sit on wheels in that situation so I'll pull out next to them and tell them what I'm doing but if they want to sit on my wheel it makes no difference to me.

OTOH, If I don't know someone and come up on them I'll usually pull up next to them and say hey. If we're moving at similar speeds and neither of us are doing any specific kind of training we'll often trade pulls for a while till we part ways. Happens all the time, it's no big deal and I've met some good folks that way.

But if it bothers you then by all means say something, no sense in fuming inside if it's ruining your ride and you'd rather not have them there. Better to say what you feel than try any weird passive aggressive stuff. Just tell them you prefer to ride alone, most will give you some space or head up the road at that point.

-Dave
 
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maydog

Well-Known Member
Feb 5, 2010
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Yes I probably should have said something, though at the time it probably would not have been nice. I was commuting, travelling at a signficantly faster speed, not in the mood for sport and I thought my actions made it clear that I didn't want to pull for anyone.

To use a car analogy, I felt like they guy who passed the slow car and now that car is tailgating. Let that car pass and it will go slow again.

Thinking back a few weeks, on the last time it happened - I had no idea the guy I passed a few minutes back was on my wheel, he almost took me out by half wheeling as I avoided some horse droppings on the trail (that is a big problem around here). I just do not trust the random cyclist I meet on the road to make good decisions, at least in races you know and accept the risks and the other riders should be somewhat more skilled. I may follow other riders on the road, but I always give them plenty of space I don't hang out in the draft zone.

Maybe I am the most upset because I couldn't shake them as easily this time.

In the end, I got a good workout - I assume they did too.
 

alienator

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Jun 10, 2004
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I don't care much what wheelsuckers do, just so long as they don't hit or crash me. I figure I've got no right or claims on the dirty air behind me, and I'm not in a race. Likewise, no one on the road has the obligation to work with me on a ride.
 

Methodical

Member
Jun 25, 2012
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I sure wish I could ride at 24-25 mph for a few miles, but I'm getting stronger though./img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif
 

jhuskey

Moderator
Oct 6, 2003
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Catching someone can be awkard. I stopped at an intersetion on a ride about a month ago and noted two young gentlemen cross my path. They were on nice carbon framed bikes. I took a couple of drinks of water and waited I guess about 2 minutes and started down the same road they were on. In about 2 mile I had caught them without a lot of effort. Maybe they were not hammering but I didn't feel like I was either. The choices are ride on their wheel for a bit , ride up beside and say hello or blow past leaving them in the dust. I guess it depends on your mood and personality but it seem to me that any time I pass someone they try and get on my wheel. I guess it is just instinctive in some people.
 

Felt_Rider

Well-Known Member
Oct 24, 2004
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My thought is much like Dave's and sometimes like jhuskey mentions that I found myself in an weird spot that I did not have enough power to come around and stay around, did not want to get in front of them just to blow up and slow them down and/or did not want to slow down or stop to get off their wheel because of being focused on my own interval. A bit selfish I know. If someone were to say something I am cool with that. I have never told anyone to get off my wheel. In fact I kind of like it because I want to see if they can hang on. I have met a lot of people at various levels of fitness and lot of the lower level folk are really surprised when I slow down to say hi. I guess they expect that I would be snobby.

This past Sunday I had a bit of all that on a MUP.

The first guy I happen to know only from seeing his profile on Strava (listed as a Cat 4). I happened to get on his wheel a few weeks ago and he did not like it. He was on mine for a few miles, but then I didn't see him any more. I was hoping that he would remain on there as motivation to keep pushing hard.

The second was 2 guys and 1 one girl that I had passed earlier and the 3 of them were starting to come around me when she could not sustain and I almost run over her back wheel. Her friend noticed and let me out and I went on my way with only a millisecond of frustration, but I was about to give her kudos for making a good try at coming around me.

The last was a guy that jumped on my wheel and when I looked at him he was a kind of chunky build so I did not think he could hold my wheel. He stayed on for about 6 miles, but at one point he fell off so I slowed down to let him get back on my wheel (in the middle of an interval nonetheless - man I am nice guy /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif ). Once he was back on my wheel he stayed on until I hit my cool down area. I was proud of the guy for doing that type of pace and not being of a trim physique.

I have it happen a lot and I kind of like the company so I have a different perspective, but certainly if I was on someone's wheel and it is upsetting them a gesture or word would be okay with me.
 

danfoz

Well-Known Member
Apr 12, 2011
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Originally Posted by maydog .

I guess I could have said something to them, but I didn't want to be a jerk - what else is there to do?
The alternative to verbal communication provided the roads gradient allows is just to ease up on the pedals or coast outright, sit up, and give a friendly nod when they pass. Unfortunately not a great option if in the middle of an interval.

One of the best thread titles I have ever seen btw.
 

CAMPYBOB

Well-Known Member
Sep 12, 2005
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If the wheelsucker is riding safely, he can sit there all day.
 

wolfpack21643

New Member
Jul 25, 2012
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Im so glad just to find another rider on the road that I will size them up as I catch them and make the determination if they are a serious rider or someone just out for a spin or fitness ride. If they look like they are more on the serious side then I will start up a conversation and most of the time If I dont already know them its because they are just starting out and I give them my contact info and I have had good luck with meeting new guys to ride with that way. There are so few of us in my area that we have to stick together when we find each other. If they appear to just be ridding to lose wieght then I will say hi as I go by but I found most of those guys are sloooow and only ride on chamber of commerce days so I dont spend much time talking them up or ridding around them I just keep moving at my own pace which is alot faster then theirs most of the time.
 

danfoz

Well-Known Member
Apr 12, 2011
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Originally Posted by wolfpack21643 .

There are so few of us in my area that we have to stick together when we find each other.
I know what you mean. I started riding and racing in the 80's and folks did not know what to make of some strange kid wearing lycra, at least in the US. If you saw another one like you it was a very exciting momement.
 

alienator

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Jun 10, 2004
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I've only come across one wheelsucker that I hated. He was the one that rear ended my bike at a light. It wasn't a hard hit, but it was certainly noticeable. I turned around and said, "Hey, how's it going?", and he completely ignored me and looked off in another direction, not answering my question. WTF? Everyone makes a mistake, and I could have forgiven the turd monkey for that, but his absolute silence killed that option. If I dismember correctly he was either on Pinarello or a Cervelo. Either way, I hope when he stopped for coffee, a great dane took a big dump and **** on his bike.
 

bgoetz

Active Member
Nov 25, 2010
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I actually had this happen yesterday. I was at the tail end of a 2hr SST ride when I rolled up on two guys. I was holding a pretty good clip, so I caught them pretty quick noding as I passed. As I came into a roundabout where I usually can it and roll in at a easy pace, I just happened to glance over my shoulder and notice one of the guys on my wheel. Feeling the need to show me he could "hang" he must have dropped his buddy and jumped on my wheel, of course little did he know I had been holding the pace for nearly two hours. The only thing that bothered me about the situation was that I was turning onto a different road out of the roundabout, so had I not glanced back there may have been opportunity for us to get tangled.
 

vspa

Well-Known Member
Jan 11, 2009
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yes, complete silence is very unpolite in this situation, as long as the guy drafting on you says bye or thank you when they leave then its ok for me,
 

Eichers

Member
Sep 17, 2010
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I can't see an issue with giving someone a tow, providing they don't interfere with your ride.
I would even consider it polite to give someone a tow ...
Interesting ...
 

An old Guy

Active Member
Feb 12, 2011
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When I drive,I don't talk much to people in other cars. I tend to drive near other cars. Drivers tend to exhibit the same behaviors that I (we) see in bicyclists, playing leap frog, following, changing speed. No reason to treat bicyclists different than drivers.

---

I often follow other riders when I am bored or not paying much attention. A passing rider wakes me up and gives me something to focus on. Something to take pace off of. No reason to pass. No reason to ride too close. Other riders do the same to me.

I make a mistakes following but no big deal. Everyone does.
 

maydog

Well-Known Member
Feb 5, 2010
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Originally Posted by An old Guy .


I often follow other riders when I am bored or not paying much attention.
All the more reason to distrust hop on's.
 
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Mark 86

New Member
Nov 2, 2011
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It seems like when you're not in a group ride, wheelsucking without permission is sort of like taking a french-fry off of someone's plate without asking. With that said, I don't mind pulling people. If they're not as strong it's fun to torture them. If they're stronger, I expect them to pull through. However, when I stoop to wheelsucking strangers(when I'm fried and trying to get home as easily as possible), I always politely ask, "Hey Man, do you mind if I ride your wheel?" That seems like proper ettiquette to me. I've never had anyone say, "yes I mind". I have had people try to torture me after politely saying, "sure, no problem. Jump on!". Then I think to myself, "****, paybacks are hell... now I have no hang on!" ....
 
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