The night before a race, stress can set in: the fear of the distance to be covered, the apprehension of a mythical pass, the desire to make a good result. But riding in a peloton can also be a stress factor. Here are a few tips on how to ride safer, more confidently and more efficiently.
Riding in a peloton, a team effort
Riding in a peloton is a unique and exciting experience. The road goes by at high speed under our wheels, we feel the strength of the group, we hear the repeated noises of the gear changes within the peloton.
Although competitors, it is at this moment that we have the feeling of being part of a community. The fate of each cyclist is dependent on many others around him. If one rider falls, he will drag the others to the ground with him. But it is also thanks to the work of the cyclists at the front of the pack that those behind can save some energy, sheltered from the wind.
This aspect of the race, while very exciting, can also be stressful. It is therefore necessary to know some basic rules to riding in a peloton and to be able to make the most of what the group has to offer.
The main rules of the peloton
1. Ride smoothly
When you are so close to each other, a sudden stop could lead to a collective fall. It is therefore important to use the brakes with the utmost caution. Experienced cyclists, when in a peloton, almost never use them.
2. Maintaining the right distance
Riding in a peloton means benefiting from the group's draft and using less energy. But riding too close to the wheel of the rider in front is dangerous behavior. The best thing to do is to ride about 30 cm away, slightly offset, which will allow you to avoid the wheel of the rider in front of you when braking.
3. Anticipate the dangers
At first, you will obviously be tempted to keep looking at the back wheel of the cyclist in front of you. But as time goes on and you become more comfortable, remember to look up to anticipate and not have to react in an emergency, which will force you to brake hard. In addition to looking away, be aware of noises. You can hear brake noises and early cyclists communicating verbally to warn of dangers.
4. Communicate the dangers to the rest of the peloton
This last rule is crucial. It is through effective communication that road dangers can be avoided by the entire group. There are two main ways of communicating information. The first, by gestures, the main ones being to extend the arm to indicate the place of a hole on the road and to make a movement of arm in the back to indicate to the cyclist of behind that it must deviate its trajectory to avoid an object on the roadway (watch this video for more information on hand signals). The voice is also a very effective way to communicate, so don't hesitate to shout out the name of the hazard or repeat what other riders are saying (car, roundedabout, etc.).
Now you know the essential rules for riding in a peloton and enjoying the experience. All that's left is to practice. Want to be part of a peloton of passionate cyclists in a race? The Haute Route 2022 events are the perfect opportunity!