How to perfect your drafting
Drafting on a bike saves huge amounts of energy if done correctly says Paul Mill, owner of coaching company Elitecycling.
1. Zone in
“When sitting behind a rider only get as close to the back wheel as you feel comfortable doing,” explains Paul.
The science is simple — by tucking in closely behind you’re sheltered from the resistance of the wind and being drawn along by the draft or air pocket the cyclist ahead creates. It looks very professional, and can reduce your energy expenditure by as much as 40 percent.
2. Eyes front
“Look forward at the rider in front and beyond, not at the wheel,” insists Paul.
While you will need to regularly check your wheel distance, the more you practice this manoeuvre the better you should become at gauging your sense of distance while keeping your head up and making any minor adjustments to your speed without having to look down.
3. Skip brakes
“Avoid braking and if there is a slowing in the group try to move to the side of the wheel rather than snatching on the brakes, ” adds Paul.
Ideally, use your pedal pressure to regulate your speed and distance — aiming to keep a smooth pedal motion and only ever ‘feathering’ the brakes to avoid falling back off the wheel you’re following if you need to slow.
4. Stay close
“Practice in small groups and build up gradually to increase the group size, ” says Paul.
“Communication is key — if you lead, point out holes or obstacles to others. Assess the wind direction, look for swaying trees or flags so you know where to shelter — if the wind is coming from the left, place yourself on the right of the wheel and vice versa. Most of all relax and practice.”