This post comes from one of the smartest and best bike racers I know. My hope is that he contributes regularly to this blog. We’ll all be better off with his advice. Thanks Jeff
I wrote that in big, friendly red letters because Douglas Adams died too young, the world will forever be a darker shade of grey as a result, and I’m in no particular hurry to get over it.
But it’s also good advice for bike racers.
There are often phases in bike races in which the attacks are both frequent and futile. This can happen when a break is up the road and the teams not represented are trying to bridge instead of chase and are forever being chased down by the breakaways’ teammates, at the beginning of a race when the fools that will chase anything aren’t yet too tired to do so, and in several other situations. Regardless, the pattern is the same: someone attacks and a wave of acceleration ripples backwards through the pack as everyone jumps to maintain contact. The attack is caught and everyone stops working – 50km/hr, 30, 50, 30, 50 over and over again. These jumps can take a lot of energy that you’d rather use sowing your own mayhem and confusion.
One trick I’ve learned is to not jump. Anticipate the wave and quicken your cadence, perhaps shifting down a gear. You’ll likely get passed by a few people for doing this – make sure they pass you on the windward side. By maintaining your cadence a second or two once the attack is caught and the pack compresses, you can slingshot back up to your original position or even further. Alternatively, if a split does develop, you’ll not only have saved your jump, but have a few unwitting teammates leading out your bridge. More often than not, nothing will come of the attack and you’ll quite appropriately have expended next to no energy.