The Chainlink

You need affirmative consent to draft a stranger.

This morning I spent a good chunk of my commute on the LFT with an extremely tall, extremely fast cyclist trailing me by what felt like less than a foot. I had initially been going at least 4 mph faster than him, but I guess I inspired him. I glanced over my shoulder three times initially to indicate some concern about his placement--even if he's "liable" for a collision, I don't want to worry if I need to swerve for a rabbit or oblivious jogger. When I slowed to exit, he thanked me for "allowing" him to draft. He was gone before I could add nuance.

It's just creepy too. I would not be okay with a pedestrian trailing me like that. Please don't do it.

In the future I will probably let people like that go ahead, but it's a PITA for me to have to manage them.

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Even if I received permission, I still wouldn't draft as close as you say he was! I don't know their riding style, how they pass, etc.

If it's more than a foot, it's not (proper) drafting... 6 inches is better.

That stated, it is rude if done without permission anywhere outside a spirited group ride (where it's assumed to be allowable.) Drafting is a specialised skill, and not to be undertaken by neophytes and squirrels.

One always should ask first. The danger of crashing is usually more of a concern of the hind rider, as it's a bit harder (though not impossible) to take someone down from behind.

Speaking for myself, anyone who feels the need to draft my slow wheel has bigger problems, so it's no real issue for me (unless it were on the velodrome.)

You're right about proper drafting.

Being 1.5-2 ft behind someone when it's windy is definitely beneficial though, and that's about the only time I'd ask to jump behind a stranger. Of course, I'm happy to pull when it's my turn.

Agreed! This drives me crazy! When I am riding solo I want to be left alone. It's not only creepy but a hazard. If you want to ride in the wind of others, find a club to ride with where it's expected.

This was discussed in an an article on women's transportation-related advice for men -- see passage below.

She also reports that during “literally every solo road ride” she goes on in the Chicago area, random men will attempt to “draft” her (ride close behind to cut wind resistance) without saying anything. “So you have this hulking stranger riding two inches behind you, and you have no idea who they are or if they can ride well enough to be that close to you safely.”

How does she deal with that deeply creepy situation? “I just pull over and stop for a few minutes and let them go,” Randall said. “Sometimes I say something like, “If you can’t introduce yourself, get off my f—ing wheel. Sometimes I just blow snot rockets with reckless abandon.”

The creepiness of the scenario John paints is  difficult and I will not  even  attempt to  mansplain it.  Taking that  aspect  out of the question and  simply seeing a  junior Lance too close to my rear wheel I like to be a draft dodger by coasting  and waving  the  offender by.  I am being polite and this doesn't seem to  bring  on any bike on  bike conflict.

Totally agree that "you need affirmative consent to draft a stranger" in any situation outside of an actual race, or an organized training ride. For the most part I think people doing this just don't know any better or realize that it can be annoying/creepy, because they're rarely on the opposite side of the action. They're often newer riders and/or don't understand the etiquette.  

Usually when this happens to me I just slow down, sit up, and motion for them to re-pass. This is usually enough to send a signal that I'm not interested in drafting with them, even if I end up re-passing in a few minutes they probably won't try a second time. 

This is definitely one of the more awkward social situations I find myself in while biking. Even a polite "no thanks" conversation makes me feel like an elitist asshole talking down to someone who might be new to the sport or looking for friends to ride with, etc. On the other hand, I don't want someone 2" behind me pedaling their ass off and swerving around just trying to keep up. 

Bike the Drive seemed to have lots of this happening. Most notable were the guys on tri-bikes riding with aero bars trying to draft off of strangers. 

"...Most notable were the guys on tri-bikes riding with aero bars trying to draft off of strangers. "

That's funny. Back in the day we used to troll the tri-guys by sneaking up and drafting them... often they lost their s#!t when they discovered us back there.

Yes, we roadies were jerks.

Also, close-quarter cycling while using aero bars is a very bad idea.

I just slow down and make them pass.  Problem solved.

Slow down, let them pass, jump on their wheel and don't never get off. Learn 'em what it's like.


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