I have been cycling in Melbourne for over ten years, which like any other populated area is full of it's own dramas, danger and excitement. I cycle every day to work and have been noticing more and more, that the new fad is to draft behind someone faster that yourself!
It's a extremely dangerous if you had to stop suddenly, and downright lazy.
I'd disagree, I've been riding in Melbourne since '96 and elsewhere for a fair bit longer. I don't think that its a new fad, there's always people who get the road mixed up with the race track in their heads, some are on bikes, some in cars.
Whatever percentage it is they decide that they'll draft anyone or anything and end up doing it stupidly. Its just that there's more people riding each year, and more in the summer than the winter so I reckon you've noticed it recently.
At least when they're drafting they're usually only a hazard to themselves, if they clip your rear wheel its unlikely you'll come off and fairly likely that they will. Doesn't excuse snot rockets or deliberate antisocial riding on your part, just yell out if you're not comfortable with it and someone's on your tail, or sit up and back off 'til they go away.
Sorry Jonathon, poor choice of words on my part. When I said "on your part" it was intended as a generic, "anyone who gets annoyed at being drafted by people they don't know" not you personally. I do know of people who have got annoyed at being drafted and have gone out of their way to try and run the draftee into potholes, obstacles, or to try and cause a collision and I reckon that's pretty reprehensible behaviour.
I've got a life thanks, pretty full at the moment, a little riding here and there, commuting most days, toddler to and from childcare in a trailer three days a week, I get to meet most of what the eastern suburbs motorists and cyclists have to offer me on the roads.
As somebody in the middle range, with a little drafting experience in group rides (eg RTB and others) but no racing experience, I find those who start drafting me can't hold me and those I'd draft I can't hold.
Certainly, if you get somebody who's read about drafting and wants to give it a try, they're a bit of a nuisance and a worry, but I wouldn't call it a serious problem from what I've seen on my odd day shift. In my experience, those who forget we're not on the race track tend to be more of the TT spirit, where drafting is cheating and blasting past is de rigour. Maybe I'm just getting slow as I approach 50 :-)
Street pursuit! The cat-and-mouse of a slow race ;-)
Just to clear up a common misconception regarding drafting. The load on the leader is pretty much the same with or without a "barnacle" on their wheel. The leader has to split the same amount of air whether they're being followed or not. In fact, there may be an insignificant improvement for the leader to have a drafter due to lengthening the streamline and reducing turbulence between the leader and the leach.
The fact remains, the Incredible Mr Limpet is a lazy bastard and should be sent to the front after 5 minutes or dropped off the back. We should always take our turn on the front.
There is, however, the perception of someone breathing down your neck (something some people cannot stand) and the potential of them hitting you if you have to brake suddenly. And yeah, they are likely to come of a lot worse than you... but I've also seen some nasty stuff happen to the person being hit.
Gosh didn't realise it was such an issue. I do it occasionally up Royal Parade or Canning St. I have also been drafted myself in the same places. I guess the point is that nearly always one person is stronger than the other, so in either situation I either overtake, drop back or power away after a little while. If I was really put out I would just stop for a few moments and let them get ahead by 100 metres or more.
If I am behind I am always looking ahead, just offset from them. I don't trust other people to look for me.
My 2 cents wordh.
I often notice that I can "feel" when there is someone drafting "me"; confirmed by "looking around". Typically my road speed has subtly increased by 2-3kmh or so. A little www digging found the following passage:
In drafting the vortex's anomalies straighten out, and the front rider’s pedalling effort becomes an estimated 3% easier as a result of the symbiotic relationship. In addition, a four man pace line requires an average of only 75% of the power of an individual at the same speed, as the brunt of wind resistance of the pace line is absorbed by the rider in front. At race speeds in a pace line it would seem that it is 17% easier for the 2nd rider, 38% easier for the next, and 40% for the 4th position on the back, and the leader fronting the echelon has a 3% “wake straightening” benefit than if cycling by himself.
If the above is factual then the rider in front does actually benefit and the numbers match my own experience.
Drafting does not bother me; provided that the second rider is riding safely; which in my experience is most of the time; and if they are not riding safely then I find that they generally can't keep up anyway.
I used to be terrified of drafting, too, never having raced, but a friend helping me home on a ride where I'd bitten off more than I could chew said to watch his back brake. (As well as everything else, of course!) Better than a brake light that bit of advice, never hit a colleague's wheel yet.
And I say again, unless you're being towed because you've had it and that's "the contract", you're on the back for a rest, once rested move to the front.