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Newbie question on drafting / pulling

Jul 20, 2009
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Please excuse the naivete of this question from a non-rider, but I have a question about drafting. While it's simple to see how a rider riding behind another will benefit greatly from the the rider in front blocking the wind, what I'm not clear on is whether the rider in front is impacted directly by someone on his wheel (e.g., Does it take the same effort for the rider in front to move at the same speed with someone on his wheel vs. no one on his wheel?). Does the rider in front literally "pull" (due to some quirk of physics that's beyond me) the rider directly behind along (and maybe other riders behind that rider)?

Anyone have any good links about this?

Thanks,

Jaime
 
Jun 16, 2009
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The rider in front does not necessarily 'pull' the rider behind nor is the rider in front negatively impacted by the rider or riders behind. Actually it's quite the opposite. The quirk of nature you refer to is called aerodynamics. Two riders riding in line will create a bigger hole in the wind and the trailing turbulence at the rear of the first rider will be forced over the back of the second rider and both will have an easier time riding through a headwind than a single rider would due to less overall turbulence. Two or more riders in line are therefore more aerodynamically efficient than a single rider. The more riders in line the more significant the effect. This is why riders ride in close single file in a team time trial instead of side by side.:.
 
JaimeJaime said:
Please excuse the naivete of this question from a non-rider, but I have a question about drafting. While it's simple to see how a rider riding behind another will benefit greatly from the the rider in front blocking the wind, what I'm not clear on is whether the rider in front is impacted directly by someone on his wheel (e.g., Does it take the same effort for the rider in front to move at the same speed with someone on his wheel vs. no one on his wheel?). Does the rider in front literally "pull" (due to some quirk of physics that's beyond me) the rider directly behind along (and maybe other riders behind that rider)?

Anyone have any good links about this?

Thanks,

Jaime
The only thing you really need to know about drafting is when you need a break, get behind a tall fat guy like me and enjoy the rest. LOL
 
Mar 10, 2009
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Rastek said:
The rider in front does not necessarily 'pull' the rider behind nor is the rider in front negatively impacted by the rider or riders behind. Actually it's quite the opposite. The quirk of nature you refer to is called aerodynamics. Two riders riding in line will create a bigger hole in the wind and the trailing turbulence at the rear of the first rider will be forced over the back of the second rider and both will have an easier time riding through a headwind than a single rider would due to less overall turbulence. Two or more riders in line are therefore more aerodynamically efficient than a single rider. The more riders in line the more significant the effect. This is why riders ride in close single file in a team time trial instead of side by side.:.

Great answer. I would have used 3 times as many words Can I quote you? Or can I just steal it? I have tried to explain this to a guy that always gets all agro when anyone rides on his wheel. He'll zig zag into an oncoming car to get rid of you. I usually just motor by him now but I am not always fit enough to get past him clean.
 
Rastek said:
The rider in front does not necessarily 'pull' the rider behind nor is the rider in front negatively impacted by the rider or riders behind. Actually it's quite the opposite. The quirk of nature you refer to is called aerodynamics. Two riders riding in line will create a bigger hole in the wind and the trailing turbulence at the rear of the first rider will be forced over the back of the second rider and both will have an easier time riding through a headwind than a single rider would due to less overall turbulence. Two or more riders in line are therefore more aerodynamically efficient than a single rider. The more riders in line the more significant the effect. This is why riders ride in close single file in a team time trial instead of side by side.:.

Whether the front rider gets a benefit from a second rider drafting him has been argued for quite a while. All the stuff I have seen shows a theoretical benefit, but it is so small that with realistic road conditions, usual drafting distances, and small variations in bike positions it probably does not exist.

Here is a discussion about this:

http://www.bikeradar.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=15353173