Monday, April 18, 2016

How Can I Miss You If You Won't Go Away (Country Western Song, Dan Hicks)

Al and I have been doing stuff together for a very long time. Spending days and weeks alone together in the cramped confines of itsy-bitsy tents and teeny-tiny campers in remote areas, well, it teaches you how to get along without resorting to small or large caliber handguns. It taught us an important thing about relationships: Space is a very important commodity.

When we moved to Miami, we started group riding. Paceline riding. Which is another way of saying riding close to the wheel of the bike in front of you. What you are doing in a paceline is drafting. It lets you go farther and faster with less effort. Which can be a good thing. Or at the very least, a very pleasant thing.

But you don't ride everywhere in a group. Nor do you want to. Al and I ride lots of miles by ourselves. When we are out riding on our own, we don't draft. It is a lot safer on long rides, particularly when one of us (me) is frequently paying more attention to the scenery than the road. And it keeps the weaker rider (yep, me) from getting lazy.

What we have is The 3 to 5 Bike Lengths Rule. We agree on a speed, then we pedal down the road, the second guy staying at least 3 to 5 bike lengths behind the guy in front. With these special conditions:
  1. If I start to get really tired, I can pull up to Al's wheel and draft. Once I recover, I have to fall back. If I can't recover enough to keep up without drafting, we re-negotiate our speed.
  2. If we have to get somewhere faster than I can ride on my own, Al gets up front and "pulls" and I draft. (Very handy when we're running late or trying to beat an approaching storm.)
It's a great rule for us. The best part: We can enjoy riding together without being close enough to get on each other's nerves. And I like it, too, because the rule makes me a stronger rider.

Space is a wonderful thing.