Closing a gap

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Not a humblebrag, but I am in the best cycling shape I've been in in years. Still a pudgy bugger but able to amble on.

This is pertinent, I promise.

I'm two sportives down this year (Kinross and Etape Caledonia) and both presented some uniquely new challenges for me. After last year I knew that hills were my enemy so I did some concentrated training around that aspect; again, not bragging but it paid off on Schiehallion this year when I did the entire thing seated at an average 9mph.

No, hills weren't the issue this time.

Group riding I knew my faults and failures, and I was regularly dropped on ordinary inclines. What I then did is try to catch the group.

Legs pumping, out the saddle, well and truly blasting ahead to catch the tail of the group at 27-28mph. Caught up and then:



Gassed out and breathing out of my bahookey. No energy to push and the group just sauntered off again.

What really bugged me though is that the recovery from this bonk was maybe 2-3mins in the saddle and I was up to full speed again. But in this game 2-3mins is the difference between finishing your route sub-4 hours or tacking on an extra 30mins to your time.

Does anyone have any 'one weird trick' type things that keeps them from dying a speedy death like this?

dave r

Dunking Diddy Dave Pedalling Pensioner
Yes, if I was dropped I normally didn't chase the group but finished the ride at my own pace.


Eh up
If you know there is an incline approaching get to the front for a turn, but slow it down subtly, when the group realise its slowing they will pass you and you will be drifting back down the order, but by the time you hit the top hopefully you won't be too far behind and if its a big group you may not have reached the back of it.


Ride It Like You Stole It!
South Manchester
You'll need a bit of 'interval training' to be able to bridge the gap and then recover, but if they are still going too fast, you'll get dropped again.

I've been changing my climbing technique as I'm MTB'ing mainly now - simply grinding or spinning up a hill as you do on the road doesn't work as you'll stop when you hit an obstacle. So it's now a case of pace yourself, see something tough to get over and accelerate, recover, then go again. I was struggling getting over tricky terrain, but now can do it with a change in technique. The same will apply catching groups. You might want to try this with short 'lumps' in the road when out riding - ride them hard, then recover.

It's a simple case of riding more.


It's a simple case of riding more.

I'll refer my wife to this post shortly!

A local CC does an APR style race on a Wednesday night which I may try to join in on on that basis. I know training is key to this but was hoping there'd be a "Oh yeah, just stick your leg with a syringe of adrenaline when you get to the group" type solution ;)


Your first line explains the problem mostly. You're carrying extra weight. This means you will have to work much harder to stay with a pack on any incline-gravity you see. A tip is if you get into a group and you know what climbs are coming get to the front of the pack and as you make the climb hopefully you haven't been dropped before the crest.

I suffer with the same issue being 95KG. I get dropped quite easily on longer climbs but can catch up on flats and downhills sometimes. I've accepted when climbing hills or mountains I need to go at my pace, which is ok for a bigger older fella. Eg for a 1 hour mountain climb I am 10-15 mins slower than the faster lightweights. It doesn't bother me.

Lose alot of weight if you want to be in the mix with lightweights.

Ian H

Ancient randonneur
I'd suggest that, if you can sprint to catch them up, you could probably expend the same amount of energy keeping up with them on the hill (or perhaps just allow less of a gap to open). Chasing down a group is more like time-trialling: on the drops, as efficient as possible, and keeping within your sustainable limits at just a bit faster than them.

But, as above, it's not a race, and you might well just exhaust yourself. On the other hand, it is a way of training in itself.
Its probably knowing where to draw the line (something I'm not good at and keep at it too long). Psychologically if its short I know I'm faster and its easier in the group so I make the effort but when it becomes long :wacko: If its a group of people I know I can usually focus on someone I know is going to hurt more than me and use that target.


Has the memory of a goldfish
I was never any good at riding in a bunch. I much preferred to go at my own pace - whichis why I did time trials rather than road races. My advice would be to forget about the group and if you get dropped on a climb don't panic... you can catch them up when the road flattens out or goes downhill again. If its not a race they won't be going hell for leather will they?

If you are indeed a 'pudgy bugger' then maybe you will never shine on the hills. Hill climbing is all about your power to weight ratio. If you lose weight you should also get better on the up slopes. If you don't burn yourself out on a climb your average speed will end up being higher over the distance. You don't need to compete until you are competitive!

Tortoise and hare mate...
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