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December 15, 2008
I recently wrote a post about crosswinds and I’m going to do it again today. It’s been a major theme of my past couple of races.
I did this race in rural Australia called Scotty’s race . It’s race for the Scott People’s foundation where Scott was tragically killed while training a couple years ago. It brings out some of the best riders in Australia to pay their respects to the family and in memory of Scott.
As somber as the minute of silence was before the flag dropped, the race got off to a blistering 55km/hr pace as soon as the neutral vehicle pulled off. The crosswinds had 200 riders in the gutter for about a km back down the road. Once again, many people seemed to think that it would be easier riding single file and bridging gaps than it would be doing turns in the echelon up front. Easier said than done as it was a dog-fight just to get a place in the echelon that used only half the road!
I was fortunate to have my place up at the front, but what surprised me is that no other echelons formed directly behind us. This of course would require a little bit of communication between riders who wanted to do this which wasn’t easily possible at 55km/hr in the mayhem behind. However, you can see the pros doing this here (within the front group – not the second or third groups – they’re already out of the race):
Instead the peloton looked like this (without the hill and with a lot more riders in the gutter):
So, next time you caught in the gutter and you don’t want to be in the back part of the race when it gets smashed to pieces, I suggest that you have a game plan together with your teammates or other riders you’re close with and start your own echelon directly behind the front one that is causing all the trouble. It’s much easier and you get far more rest rolling turns in an echelon than being strung out in the gutter hanging on for dear life. If you’re strong enough to be in the gutter and not dropping wheels, you’re more than strong enough to be up at the front in an echelon.
I hope I don’t feel the need to write another post that have the tags "crosswinds", "gutter" and "echelon" in it for a long long time…