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September 27, 2011
If there’s one thing I’ve acquired as a cyclist it’s an acute sense of wind direction. Every good bike rider needs to develop a sixth sense for wind. It’s the most important thing you need to keep track of when riding in a bunch. You have to love it, embrace it, and make it work for you otherwise you won’t be in this sport for very long. “Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it.” –Winston Churchill
You can use the bunch to roll along in the wind more efficiently, or to blow a race apart.
How to echelon in the wind correctly is something that confuses people all the time. We have such a strong bunch riding culture here in Australia that produces some fine cyclists. However, there are many experienced riders who still get it wrong.
I’ve written about how to roll turns correctly before and here’s a good video that explains it nicely:
Here’s another good video that shows it from the cyclists point of view:
Quite often a bunch will be rolling through correctly and then it all goes pear-shaped. When the course has many twists and turns it can be difficult to keep organised. If there’s a change in the wind direction or if everyone is getting tired and not thinking clearly, sometimes the bunch gets caught pulling through on the wrong side. I even see it happen with A-grade riders who should know better. If no one takes charge this can go on indefinitely.
How I would change the direction of an incorrectly rotating echelon is the following:
1. Roll through with the rest of the bunch on the incorrect side. While rolling through tell a few of the guys as you’re going past that we’re all through on the wrong side. Many of them might not realize they’re doing it wrong, so make them aware before you try to change it.
2. When you get to the front, pull off on the correct side (i.e. windward side). If everyone doesn’t catch on right away you might be left at the front without anyone pulling through. When you are up at the front you should be waving people through on the correct side to get the echelon moving again. Make sure that your’e far enough up the road so that riders can pull through on the correct side. It doesn’t do much good if you’re in the gutter and no one can get through.
Which Direction To Roll Through With Headwind or Tailwind?
It doesn’t really matter from an efficiency standpoint, but I prefer that riders pull off to the right (in Australia, left in North America). This is because it gives the front rider more room on the road to pull-off instead of having a line of riders come past possibly pushing him into the gutter.
A few more posts that I’ve written on the subject of bunch positioning:
Positioning In The Peloton
Rolling Turns, Pacelining and Echeloning
How To Roll Through Smoothly