Hero or idiot

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Rolf F
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Hero or idiot

Postby Rolf F » Tue Nov 13, 2012 21:26 pm

I was on my way into work yesterday on the bike. In a rare non crashing moment, I was doing about 18mph on a flattish section of road in a built up semi industrial/urban area.

I hear a loud truck like noise behind me and a shoulder check reveals a huge lorry bearing down on me. He passes (plenty of space etc etc) and I see that the trailer is a huge oversize flatbed with a tracked excavator on the back. He's doing a good 28 mph. As he passes, I'm startled to see that he has a cyclist in tow. The cyclist (road bike) is right in the centre line of the trailer and about 2 feet from it.

Now, I quite like a bit of an adrenaline rush but that seemed insane. There was probably barely an inch of road surface visible to him infront of him. Obviously, huge trucks like that don't stop quickly but he'd have zero warning of any sudden stop (and it is an area with loads of side turnings plus school children milling around and the odd pedestrian crossing). He must have known the route well as there was a point where the truck would have had to slow fairly abruptly for a right and left and he would hardly have been able to see those coming.

So - hero or idiot? In his favour, as it was a low loader, if the truck had jammed its brakes on, he'd have probably pitched onto the flatbed rather than been splatted onto the back of a container but way too scary for me. I'm grudgingly impressed but it seems daft. Whenever I've caught a draft from a bus I've kept left to see past it (obviously negating 90% of the benefit) and I can't see me ever doing more than that.
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Re: Hero or idiot

Postby Torvid » Tue Nov 13, 2012 21:34 pm

I'm going to go with idiot.
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Re: Hero or idiot

Postby spasypaddy » Tue Nov 13, 2012 21:37 pm

i did this with a bus the other day, but what i did differently to the person in your story was allowed a few feet of distance between the bus and me because i know that the benefit of hiding behind the bus means i dont need to be on the bumper of it like you would another cyclist. made the slight drag up the road really easy and i flew up it at 25mph with my heart rate quite low

plus i know the bus route and where the stops are otherwise its just madness.

and its a wide (2 lane each way) road that allows me escape routes if i need it.

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Re: Hero or idiot

Postby UndercoverElephant » Tue Nov 13, 2012 21:49 pm

Yeah, he was an idiot.

I'd never do that, oh no never.

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Re: Hero or idiot

Postby MTB-Idle » Tue Nov 13, 2012 21:50 pm

He's a heridiot
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Re: Hero or idiot

Postby SimonAH » Tue Nov 13, 2012 21:54 pm

As a kid on a Raleigh Bomber I got from Royston to Buntingford at an average speed of nearly 25mph by drafting an enormous ditch dredging machine at a distance of about an inch :-) Admittedly 13 year olds are immortal, but I did have a tiny gap between it's massive mechanical arms through which I could see a sliver of road ahead.

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Re: Hero or idiot

Postby First Aspect » Tue Nov 13, 2012 22:00 pm


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Re: Hero or idiot

Postby Kieran_Burns » Tue Nov 13, 2012 22:06 pm

I will admit I have done the same (in my younger days) at 40mph mere inches from the back wheel of a lorry. I got so cocky I used to wait for a lorry to come past so I could get a tow.

This was over the St Peters Bridge in Burton (for those that know it) It's dead straight and flat, so fairly predictable and I had the unutterable conviction I would be absolutely fine.

I do have a vid of me getting a tow off a lorry (oddly called "getting a tow off a lorry") on my YT channel. It wasn't that fast and I was using it for a short breather, 'cos I had this brutal headwind that day.
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Re: Hero or idiot

Postby CiB » Tue Nov 13, 2012 22:49 pm

Torn on this. A few weeks ago I put this in anti-rants...
CiB wrote:Hit the bottom of the Finmere bypass out of Buckingham this morning and was passed [properly, safely] by what turned out to be a compact version of those enormous yellow cranes that trundle around at a steady pace. The Finmere bypass is a mile & a quarter steady climb to my turn-off at the airfield; on a good day I can hold 18-19mph up it most of the way, on a bad day it's closer to 11 / 12. I tucked in behind Bob The Builder a foot or so off this vast flat square backend and then watched the speed climb through 21, 24, 27 then level out at 31 for most of the climb. Pity I misjudged where we were and sat up too soon; managed to hold it at about 24 for the last 200 yards to the slot-left. That was fun.

This was going uphill on a dual c/way with no side turns so was pretty safe. Doing the same thing through an industrial estate is a move nearer to being an idiot. But sneaky Kudos to him all the same.

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Re: Hero or idiot

Postby Greg T » Wed Nov 14, 2012 07:16 am

Drafting big vehicles is a sure fire way to get hurt and only complete idiots do it.

I love it.

if you can build a good view down road you can mitigate the centre of vehicle death zone risk for a while, just swing out and re-check the road for turns/stuff/traffic etc as your previous view runs out.

This is mitigation- not elimination. If you spank in then you've only got your self to blame...

I read somewhere on here from a sailor (hello sailor) that a wind shadow extends back about twice the height of the "sail", i took that as a rule of thumb to not get closer than the height of the vehicle if you are unsighted (which I try not to do unless I "know" what's happening up road. Usual spot is close to the nearside corner looking down the vehicle.

Don't do it in the wet..

As Greg66 used to day (before he started banging on about himself in neoprene over and aver again) you are safer when moving at the ambient speed of the traffic around you. Big deltas in speed either way and some risks increase.

A bigger risk in my book is filtering up bike lanes of standing traffic at a fair click.

I get overtaken lots of time whilst filtering down NKR / Chelsea / Parsons green for example by guys who have don't view the same turning/crossing/dooring hazards in the same light that I do. For every "I spanked in drafting" story on here there are "three" (made it up) stories that start "I was just coming alongside" etc. If someone wants to search and count please do.....
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Re: Hero or idiot

Postby meanredspider » Wed Nov 14, 2012 07:24 am

There's a fine line between genius and lunacy and between hero and idiot - but doing something slightly silly does at least make you feel alive. My near 60mph jaunt down from Glenshee was fantastic but, if I'd come off, I'd have been in a world of trouble in the middle of nowhere
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Re: Hero or idiot

Postby mudcow007 » Wed Nov 14, 2012 08:48 am

i draft trucks an buses when ever there is a headwind - basically all the time

i hang about 2 meters off the back though an keep swinging out to look ahead an always hover over the brakes

some buses have the exhaust right in face which isnt cool
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Re: Hero or idiot

Postby iPete » Wed Nov 14, 2012 08:59 am

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Re: Hero or idiot

Postby pitchshifter » Wed Nov 14, 2012 09:16 am

iPete wrote:What, like a boss?

Bloody hell, he's not even wearing a helmet!


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roger merriman
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Re: Hero or idiot

Postby roger merriman » Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:04 pm

hero if it works.
idiot if it doesn't!

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Re: Hero or idiot

Postby Headhuunter » Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:18 pm

I definitely draft buses and lorries but I leave a good 5-10ft between me and the vehicle.... You don't need to be right up the @rse of a big vehicle to get drafting benefit anyway...
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Re: Hero or idiot

Postby DonDaddyD » Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:29 pm

Its always in slow moving traffic that I see cyclist, who have been following a vehicle too closely, hitting the back of the vehicle in front. I've never seen it at 20mph +.

Me? I motor-pace vehicles but.... you know what, I'm a chicken. I don't like riding up the 'back and centre' of vehicles anymore and I hate it when cyclists do it to me when I'm driving. Tap the brakes and their all sweary becuase their rim rub brakes aren't as strong as my phat discs.

I don't ride as fast as I could nor do I have the stones to do so.

So they're an idiot and I'm a chicken.
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Re: Hero or idiot

Postby jonomc4 » Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:34 pm

I am a total idiot and draft busses - tending to hop off one at the bus stop and catching one leaving - leave about 3 feet distance and watch their brake lights closely - this is especially nice in winter as they clear the cold air and I get a warm blast from their engines.

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Re: Hero or idiot

Postby byke68 » Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:39 pm


I just draft JCB's. :)
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Re: Hero or idiot

Postby Kieran_Burns » Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:56 pm

byke68 wrote:Idiot.

I just draft JCB's. :)

Careful. You'll be digging your own grave there....
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