Last night, even though the we put the kibosh on the Wednesday Night Ride out of the Trek Bicycle Store, Jordan, Brady and I still went out and braved the elements. It was actually nice getting to practice riding in a small group that would simulate a three man breakaway.
We're all pretty astute at riding in a continually rotating echelon but what do you do when there's just three of you?
The default technique is to fall back into the constantly rotating group scenario. The only issue in doing so is you really get no time to recover from being on the front. As soon you pull off the front you're immediately grabbing the last wheel and heading back to the front. This is fine in groups of 6 or more, but any less than that and riders should spend more time at the front. How much is dependent on the conditions and strength of the riders. I always like pulling to the top of the next hill or if you're on the flats, 30-60 seconds.
Which brings us to question number two. When is the optimal time to pull through? The answer is simple, if you're on rolling terrain, wait until you crest the peak of the hill. By doing this, you lessen the effort required to pass the lead rider. You've crested the hill and gravity is on your side. Trying to pull through before then will just waste energy and eventually wear you out faster.
So remember these two techniques:
#1 In a small group of less than 6 riders. Stay in a single paceline and take longer pulls on the front, 30-60 seconds. This will give each rider 2-3 minutes of recovery before going back to the front.
#2 If you're on rolling terrain, pull through after the crest of the hill to conserve energy.
Practice makes perfect.
Content originally posted by Mark Savery