I'm quite new to cycling so I thought I'd put this out there, as it seemed rather odd to me at the time.

While out on a solo ride yesterday, on a rather windy day, I suddenly realised there was another cyclist right behind me. I wasn't sure at first, as I only noticed a shape in the corner of my eye while checking for traffic.

After a few moments I looked again and was sure there was someone there. I had a left turn coming up, signaled, and sure enough a chap who had been hugging my rear wheel said "Cheers mate" and carried on.

I'm used to riding tight together on club rides, especially in the wind, but never had a complete stranger steal my slipstream like this, without saying a word. We'd been on the road for probably a couple of miles before I noticed.

I didn't mind the slipstreaming (even though I was doing all the work); it just would have been nice if he'd told me he was there. If I needed to swerve suddenly to avoid a pothole, we'd both be in the gutter.

Anyone else encountered this? What's the best thing to say to an unannounced visitor on your rear?

70 comments

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fenix [1094 posts] 8 months ago
5 likes

Say nothing and power away from them...

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Kempston [3 posts] 8 months ago
2 likes
fenix wrote:

Say nothing and power away from them...

I wish I could have, but it was windy and I was knackered!

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nniff [267 posts] 8 months ago
2 likes

At least he had the courtesy to thank you.  If it bothers you, flick your elbow after a while and let him have a go.   

I tend to announce my presence, usually by declaring myself to be a parasite, and then take my turn in due course.  There's a certain rudeness involved in catching someone, recovering on their wheel, and then dropping them.  I tend at least to give them a fair chance to sit on if they're minded to.

I have a good working relationship with a chap on an electric bike who shares a decent stretch of my commute.  I sit on his wheel into the headwind, and we have a chat and the lights and repeat.  It all stared when this bloke on a mountain bike eased in front of me at the lights an dthen took off like a scalded cat.  The battery sits in a very discreet, largish under the saddle mountain bike style saddle bag

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LastBoyScout [486 posts] 8 months ago
8 likes

Annoys the hell out of me, too, because it's dangerous - I've actually had a complete stranger crash into the back of me because he was too close when I eased off and he didn't (seems he couldn't take a hint when I'd tried to drop him 3 times).

Sportives, friends and club rides,  when you have a pretty good idea of where you/they are going, then fine, but you wouldn't drive that close to a complete stranger's car, so why do it on a bike?

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HLaB [241 posts] 8 months ago
1 like
Kempston wrote:
fenix wrote:

Say nothing and power away from them...

I wish I could have, but it was windy and I was knackered!

If you've not got the energy give them an elbow signal to come through.  After a bit you tend to know who is good at it and can trust you just need to do your bit too (pointing out potholes etc) and you'll both work together good and it'll be mutially beneficial.  If I don't trust them I do the powering away thing.  I can't recall not being able to drop someone untrusty but I guess I would drop my pace first then maybe pull off and stop if I was too knackered  1 

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Crampy [138 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes

Swing out to the right (left on your quaint English roads) and let them through. 

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Jimmy Ray Will [947 posts] 8 months ago
2 likes

Never bothered me in the slightest. As long as they stay fairly tight, then I'm getting a benefit from them. Wonderful.

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Welsh boy [565 posts] 8 months ago
4 likes

Just be pleased that you have helped a fellow cyclist who was in need of some shelter, one day that older, slower less fit rider will be you and wouldn't it be nice to think that you could have a bit of respite on someone elses wheel.

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don simon [2548 posts] 8 months ago
11 likes

Stay quiet and don't blame me if the snot rocket hits target.

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PeakBoy [8 posts] 8 months ago
2 likes

Really windy weather will tend to bunch cyclists together. Very tough to break out of a pack in a headwind. I used to commute in Melbourne and windy days did create the largest groups.

Having someone slipstreaming me has never concerned me, after all it’s about a 5% benefit. If they take the front then great, a 20+% benefit. If it’s properly windy then any help is good as far as I am concerned. 

Crosswinds....now that is tricky on an open road.....

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Leviathan [3057 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes

This is not so bad, though he could have taken a turn if he was able to overtake you (though he might not have had the extra puff to do so.) Meanwhile I was going along a canal towpath recently and overtook another chap going much slower than me, after about thirty seconds I too got that sense and looked around to see he had sped up and was now drafting me. I shouted at him 'Why have you sped up... Why are you drafting me, it's not a race...'  and he mysteriously went back to his previous speed. There were pedestrians with dogs down there and I might have to slow or brake, I didn't want him right up my arse. I don't know why some people think being overtaken is an invitation to a race, just make your own pace.

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hoffbrandm [48 posts] 8 months ago
3 likes

Absolutely hate this. 80-90% of the time I just power down and drop them. Love doing that.

 

the rest, if i'm not feeling up to it, and its safe to do so. I'll just swing out into a completely absurd road position after having looked back at them a couple times. if they havnt got the hint by then, I'll just go over a bumpy bit a few times as punishment #evilisgood

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madcarew [815 posts] 8 months ago
4 likes

He really didn't steal anything from you. If they're capable of slipstreaming I generally reckon they're mostly capable of not crashing into the back of you, esepcially if you behave like any decent person and signal issues. Like others have said, if I want them to take a turn, a flick of the elbow normally helps. I  don't take it as any kind of threat to my masculinity or some such, or a challenge to race, if someone picks up my slipstream. Normally if I'm going to drop in behind someone I let them know, though occasionally I get overtaken by some serious races, and I'll just sit on the last wheel and be sure to keep out of their way. 

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Welsh boy [565 posts] 8 months ago
4 likes
don simon wrote:

Stay quiet and don't blame me if the snot rocket hits target.

I knew it wouldn't be long before the self important people who are so far up their own arse appeared with their pathetic comments.  You really need to get over your feeling of self importance and respect other cyclists on the road.  There are unpleasant people in all walks of life and as we can see, some of them ride bikes.

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Crampy [138 posts] 8 months ago
3 likes
don simon wrote:

Stay quiet and don't blame me if the snot rocket hits target.

Where I am from the sheer number of cyclists (especially in summer) make taking a wheel / being drafted inevitable. Folks like you wouldnt last long...

If you dont like it you can swing out and let them through, or you can offer to cooperate if they look a bit tasty. 

As others have said, the slow guy might be you one day...

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Podc [108 posts] 8 months ago
2 likes

I joined a road behind another rider last week. He was going slightly slower than me and I had seen him going the other way about 25k earlier so I knew he was on a longish ride in cold, windy conditions. I had choices - overtake or hold a comfortable pace behind. The road was busy, with upcoming roundabouts and traffic light controlled junctions ahead so I decided to just sit behind him. No point being a MGIFer. I wasn't slipstreaming him - just the next bike in traffic. After about a mile he turned and I shouted a 'cheers mate', not as a thank you for any 'slipstream' as I'd hung back what I thought was a reasonable distance, but just as a friendly comment to another cyclist.

I hope all this was not misconstrued and that the chap didnt think I'd used him to get a slipstream and had thanked him for his efforts, but I am now worried that  he might have actually been annoyed and wanted to blow snot all over me.

Life is so complicated.

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Boatsie [230 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes
Podc wrote:

I joined a road behind another rider last week. He was going slightly slower than me and I had seen him going the other way about 25k earlier so I knew he was on a longish ride in cold, windy conditions. I had choices - overtake or hold a comfortable pace behind. The road was busy, with upcoming roundabouts and traffic light controlled junctions ahead so I decided to just sit behind him. No point being a MGIFer. I wasn't slipstreaming him - just the next bike in traffic. After about a mile he turned and I shouted a 'cheers mate', not as a thank you for any 'slipstream' as I'd hung back what I thought was a reasonable distance, but just as a friendly comment to another cyclist.

I hope all this was not misconstrued and that the chap didnt think I'd used him to get a slipstream and had thanked him for his efforts, but I am now worried that  he might have actually been annoyed and wanted to blow snot all over me.

Life is so complicated.

Lol. Doesn't anyone kiss their buddies anymore.. Not like you can see tread on a road bike anyway.
(Slide in behind a flatbar, they seem rather high and should block well)

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Duncann [1410 posts] 8 months ago
8 likes
Welsh boy wrote:
don simon wrote:

Stay quiet and don't blame me if the snot rocket hits target.

I knew it wouldn't be long before the self important people who are so far up their own arse appeared with their pathetic comments.  You really need to get over your feeling of self importance and respect other cyclists on the road.  There are unpleasant people in all walks of life and as we can see, some of them ride bikes.

I can't be certain but I think you might have gotten the wrong end of the (snotty) stick...

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DaSy [841 posts] 8 months ago
7 likes

I think a lot of people are missing the point here. The OP said he didn't know the wheelsucker was there, just a feeling, confirmed when he pulled off and the bloke managed to say something (shame he hadn't managed to announce his joining rather than his leaving the draft!).

It really irritates me as, firstly the rider behind must have been going quicker than the OP to join his back wheel, so either carry on past, say hello and ask if you can sit in for a bit, or stay back.

I really don't want to hit the brakes for whatever reason I see fit, assuming I'm alone, only to have some secret squirrel bell-end plough into the back of me.

Show a bit of class and announce yourself and join in the effort, or piss off as far as I'm concerned.

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No Sweat [36 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes

If the OP is that unsure about what is happening imediately behind him, perhaps he should invest in a mirror?

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peted76 [1160 posts] 8 months ago
1 like

@kempston - this happens all the time, in a group or riding solo. 

In a group people are more inclined to join in, peer pressure or just showing off, I've slowed a group to let said new person or persons just pop off the front on their own if they aren't quite in sync with a group.

Solo, 1) you should know your surroundings, I can only think that if you 'didn't know' someone was on your wheel you must have been wearing headphones, if that's the case you are not spacially aware and probably wouldn't have heard any hello's from them anyway. If you weren't wearnig headphones and can hear properly, you would have probably found that the accused wheelsucker had probably only just reached your wheel, nobody's bike is that quiet.

2) Don't get annoyed at this, if I feel someone has been there a bit too long (it's nice to let them recover for a bit imo) then I simply purposefully flick the elbow and move over to let them through. It's also nice at that point to say hi to your guest on the way past, ask them where they are going..  It's my/your choice whether to sit there and get annoyed or not. (Although there has been a couple of incidents where I've done that, let them through and the pace has dropped significantly, which is rude, on those occasions it's usually clear that they've buried themselves to reach you so I've just powered away with a cheery see you later.

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DaSy [841 posts] 8 months ago
4 likes
peted76 wrote:

Solo, 1) you should know your surroundings, I can only think that if you 'didn't know' someone was on your wheel you must have been wearing headphones

Christ, you have better hearing than me for sure! Into a headwind, all I hear is a roaring sound.

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Kapelmuur [441 posts] 8 months ago
3 likes

A couple of years ago I was riding on the cycle path next to the Alderley Edge bypass.   It was a downhill section so I was going fairly fast (for me), when I saw an exit to my left.

I thought I'd take a look at where this path led, so I braked ready to turn on to it which unleased a torrent of abuse from behind me.   Then I was then passed by a fist shaking rider.   

I had no idea he was there and had no seen any other cyclist when I joined the cycle path  a couple of miles back.  I was on the left of the path and turning left, so I assume he was on my wheel and not to my right and overtaking.

I've often thought about this since and wondered who was at fault.   One lesson I've taken from the incident is always to signal my intentions, even if I can't detect anyone behind me.

 

 

 

 

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peted76 [1160 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes
DaSy wrote:
peted76 wrote:

Solo, 1) you should know your surroundings, I can only think that if you 'didn't know' someone was on your wheel you must have been wearing headphones

Christ, you have better hearing than me for sure! Into a headwind, all I hear is a roaring sound.

Oh.. maybe it's my helmet, but yeah into wind I can still hear the distinctive rattle and ticks of a bike behind - can't hear what people say mind, I'm like an old person with an ear trumpet at hearing people talk when on a bike.. 

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fenix [1094 posts] 8 months ago
1 like

I've never worried about people drafting me. Sometimes I'll draft others and take a turn when I can.

I'm used to drafting from riding with a club so I don't see it as dangerous.

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LarryDavidJr [392 posts] 8 months ago
3 likes

Personally, this is why I make sure to eat a fairly high fibre diet.

You see how much they really need the draft then.

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jmaccelari [255 posts] 8 months ago
5 likes

I find out this is a great way to meet people. Chat to them when you stop... I don't own that part of the road, so I prefer not to be a plonker.

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SingleSpeed [429 posts] 8 months ago
1 like

It all depends on the situation and where you are in your own ride as to the method of giving the nodder the message.

One of my favourite is to gradually almost imperceptibly slow down to the point they are now riding at an embarrassingly slow speed but still reluctant to over take.

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Legin [156 posts] 8 months ago
5 likes

Really who gives a ff? As long as they don't get on the front and have you all off what does it matter?

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Jimmy Ray Will [947 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes
Leviathan wrote:

This is not so bad, though he could have taken a turn if he was able to overtake you (though he might not have had the extra puff to do so.) Meanwhile I was going along a canal towpath recently and overtook another chap going much slower than me, after about thirty seconds I too got that sense and looked around to see he had sped up and was now drafting me. I shouted at him 'Why have you sped up... Why are you drafting me, it's not a race...'  and he mysteriously went back to his previous speed. There were pedestrians with dogs down there and I might have to slow or brake, I didn't want him right up my arse. I don't know why some people think being overtaken is an invitation to a race, just make your own pace.

I don't think they are trying to race you, I think they are simply looking for an easier ride home.

I remember once having a chap go absolutely off on me after I slipped into his slipstream... it wasn't until this thread that I realised that some people take such genuine offence to it. 

 

Won't stop me though... mwah ha ha ha. 

 

Unless they ask me not to.... obvs. 

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