I’ve seen people cycling in a ‘two lined group’; What’s that all about?

It’s a means of making things easier (and safer) for everyone.

One of a cyclist’s biggest enemies is wind resistance. By having two neat lines, the generous people at the front take the worst of the wind resistance. The people behind can (if performed particularly efficiently) expend up to thirty percent less energy than those on the front.

In the interests of fairness, we don’t leave the same people ‘hanging out at the front all day’; rather, we move round a give everyone a go. We change places in an anti-clockwise direction. That’s to say, when it’s time to change, the person at the front-left will allow the person at the front-right to move ahead of him/her and the entire right column will move up one place (with the person at the back-left moving over to the back-right). Perhaps this picture might help.

The person at the front-right shouldn’t have to accelerate in order to get into the front-left position. Instead it should be a fluid motion. It is the left column’s responsibility to make sure this can happen by slowing down slightly. This doesn’t mean any braking – simply ‘soft pedal’ or change down a gear so the left column’s pace decreases a little.

So how do people know when perform this move? Generally it’s quite a simple process: the group leader will blow a whistle to signify time to change round. Yes, that does sound terrible, we know. In practice it is a lot more pleasant than ‘blowing a whistle at people’ sounds. We’d like to be able to say ‘Okay, everybody move round now please‘ but that would be impractical in a large group. The whistle is a good sound for cutting through any other noises, meaning everyone can hear, knows what’s going on and it is safer for all involved.

When you are at the front-left and hear the whistle, it is a very beautiful sound. One back at the right? Not so much…

Posted in: Misc