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Learning to Ride in a Group

After a very brief, unscientific study about how racers I knowlearned to ride, it seems that many did so by endlessly ridingpacelines. Some of these groups were coached, others not. Thepoint is that riding with others is a great way to improve bikehandling sills.

With a busy schedule and individual trainingplan, hooking up with other riders is difficult. However, packskills are necessary for racing and should be considered an aspectof training rather than something to just learn during a race. Racing is physically demanding. As a rider becomes tired, his orher skills worsen. If the rider has few skills to start with,racing tired is dangerous. To keep us all safe, here are a fewbasics that beginners in particular should note.

Join a club
"I wrote this article for members of my first racing club -- New York City's Century Road Club Association. Joining a good club is a good way to improve your skills. You'll learn from more experienced riders and the best clubs, like CRCA, also have formal coaching programs.
You should also read an article about avoiding crashes by a friend of mine." -- EE

Don't overlap wheels
This means that the front of your front wheel is behind the rearof the rear wheel ahead of you. Stay behind the wheel that youare following. Start by riding half a bike length behind thewheel ahead of you and as you get more comfortable and skillfulmove closer. The key is learning to control the speed of yourbike with cadence and gearing instead of the brakes. If you needto use the brakes, feather them lightly while pedaling. Anticipate pace changes by being aware of everything around you.

Practice drinking while keeping your bike straight and withoutlooking down
Drinking is important. While training, practice taking your bottle in and out of its cage without looking first for the cage. Keep you hands on the handlebars at all times (except while drinking). It's easier to control the bike using two hands.

Ride in a comfortable, relaxed position
Whether you're riding in the drops or on the brake hoods, with a bent body and elbows it's easier to absorb shocks of the road and bumping from other riders. Your position should allow you to ride comfortably in the drops, which is probably the most secure position. If riding the drops is uncomfortable, you may want to think about changing your bike's fit. Often aerodynamics poorly influences our choices for stem height and length. Try raising and/or shortening the stem. Particularly women tend to ride lower than necessary, trying to conform to a male bike fit.

Looking up the road instead of at the wheel ahead of you allowsmore time to react to unexpected difficulties.

Hold you line
Do not ride erratically.

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 Elizabeth Emery
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