This year's Cannonball Century will be held on Sunday, September 28th, at Curtis Park in Stafford County. We will again enjoy the rolling hills, woodland forests and horse farms of Stafford County as we ride either the 30, 62 or 102 mile options and then follow it up with a barbecue, beverages and great fellowship.
Members can save a few dollars by registering on the club web site while others can register on Active.com or BikeReg,com. We are continuing to keep cost down and preregistration is only $35 with a day of ride registration cost of $50. Ride t-shirts will be sold separate from registration.
The Cannonball Century has long been known as one of the nicest rides in the region with beautiful scenery, excellent support and great food for both rest stops and at the cookout after the ride. Sign up early and be sure to join folks from all over the region for this great ride.
By Bob Broeking
I am not known for being particularly fast…and I am not known for being particularly slow. But what I am known for by those who ride behind me, besides serving as a great wind break is that I maintain a leader’s pace that rarely causes the dreaded accordion effect to the riders at the same fitness and speed level behind me.
The accordion effect happens when the leader changes their pace often, first speeding up and then slowing down causing EVERYONE behind them to do the same thing. Besides frustrating the riders behind them, it becomes dangerous with over lapped wheels, and sudden braking and accelerations. Before long the only result can be someone in the pace line will go down and possibly take others with them.
Here are some tips on what I do when I am leading from the front on a typical club ride:
If I know the group can maintain an 18-20 mph pace and stay together I simply set my body speedometer on 19mph, 1 mph faster than the 18 MPH average we want to maintain. This way the leader is always pulling away and the riders behind must pedal to stay at the same pace while still having room to coast as they benefit from the draft.
I resist the urge to speed up going up hills, preferring to keep the same constant speed and gradually slow down as the grade and effort increases. When going down hills I continue pedaling (also using the soft pedal technique at times) as the leader must descend quickly enough to allow riders behind to also accelerate for safety. Descending at 24-25 mph is quite reasonable and safe if the group is capable of 18 mph on the flat.
That’s the physical part of how to do it, now the mental part. The leadership of the pace line rotates often with different riders pulling through. Each may have different ideas on how fast to pull through or how fast to lead. Sometimes you will find riders who think the faster they can take off when the leader pulls off, the better…
I let these riders go…literally.
When I am third in line following a good leader at an 18-19mph average and the second rider in line becomes the new leader and speeds the pace to 22 or 24 mph, I let the rider gap the entire pace line and I keep the pace line at a steady 19mph.
Sooner or later the rider who sprinted out will turn around and see no one is following them and usually slow down and tuck to the pace line again or lead at a more reasonable speed. I also never increase my speed when taking over from a good leader up front; I stay on plan and come through at 19mph so no one behind me has to increase their speed. That’s why I call it the mental piece; you have to be mentally tough enough NOT to follow a faster rider, or speed up if that is not the plan!
Lastly a leader must know when to pull off… if the avg pace is 18 mph the leader must pull off the front when they can no longer maintain that magic 19 mph number. If a leader’s pace drops because of being on the front too long and fatigue has set in, guess what starts? The accordion effect! Communication in a pace line is key; knowing what pace everyone is comfortable with and working together to maintain it is will make for an enjoyable ride.
Try it next time you are leading from the front, the riders behind you will appreciate it!
Author’s Caveat: This article does not apply to racing, training for racing, or spirited individual competitive riding. What this article addresses is a typical club ride with riders in your group at the same fitness and speed level, whether that average speed level is 20 mph or 10 mph.
Why should you be a member of Fredericksburg Cyclists:
- to support safe cycling and to help make our area a more cycling friendly community.
- to participate in area rides with club insurance (non-members only covered for first ride).
- to be a part of classes, talks and workshops on cycling, maintenance, fitness, nutrition and other bike-related topics.
- to stay informed on cycling-related activities in our area and be in contact with other riders.
- to receive discounts at area bike shops and other sporting goods retailers. (For many, this one item will pay for your membership)
- to participate in social activities with other cyclists.
- to receive discounted or free registration for some rides such as The Cannonball Century and The Spring Outreach Ride.
Membership is only $15 for an individual, $20 for a family and $10 for full time students. You can join through either of the two options below:
Mail-In Membership Application
Directory - Only Visible when logged-in.
Member Directory (not linked for security reasons)
Some may wonder, what does a typical Saturday club ride look like? Here's a sample thanks to the video talent of Bob Broeking.
We only have a few short sleeve jerseys left - first come first serve
- 1 Womens Sport XL
- 2 Womens Sport L
The women's jerseys would work for a guy if you adjust to one size lower. They are just slightly shorter. Contact Stan Huie if you are interested.
Last Friday I wanted to support John Manvell’s ride because it was the first one planned for a Friday morning. Work has been hectic lately and that day was no exception. I was working up to the last minute trying to give everyone marching orders and finishing up a couple of emails. I dashed out of the office, jumped into my bike clothes, threw the bike in the truck and off I went. I got to the ride, signed in, put on my shoes, pumped up my tires, put my gloves on and went to reach for my helmet. That is when I remembered what I forgot. Unfortunately, I had to scratch my name off the ride sheet and whimper home with no miles because I forgot to grab my helmet off the work bench! I was so mad at myself for not going through my mental check list of things I need to bring to any ride. Today, I want to share with you the list so that hopefully you do not find yourself in the same boat.
The list of mandatory things is really small. The only two things you really need for a ride are a bicycle and a helmet. When I say bicycle, I mean the whole thing. If you are one who needs to remove the front tire to transport your bike, you really want to be sure to stow the wheel, also. My mental list, though, is more than just those two items. Shoes are important, but technically, you can ride with crocks, if you have to. Safety should be a concern, especially for new riders, because shoes with clips are not the best combination, but if you have been riding a while, it can be done. Your pace will be much slower, but if you are patient you can still get the ride in.
Other important items I have either forgotten myself in the past or witnessed others forget include glasses, gloves, head band, food and plenty of liquid. Glasses will keep the wind and pollen out of your eyes. Gloves not only keep your hands from slipping on the handle bars, they also protect your hands in the case of a fall. The head bands look funny but they definitely keep the sweat out of your eyes. Food and drink are often over looked by new riders. I have played a lot of sports in my day but biking is the only one I know of where you eat before, during and after the event. Water or sports drinks help prevent you from blacking out due to dehydration. I have seen many new riders get to our church stop with no food and watch as everyone else chows down on sports bars, blocks and other snacks. They usually refuse all offers of food from other riders and as a result, they get dropped in the last leg. It is not because they are new riders as much as everyone else fueled up and they have an extra kick that the hungry riders don’t have. They usually catch on, though, because more times than not, they are pulling food from their shirt pockets, too, the next time they ride into that church with the group.
Obviously, this list can grow out of proportion if you consider different weather conditions. The best thing for any rider to do is to formulate their own lists. I encourage you to have a list for hot rides and cold rides. If you do out of town or multi day rides, that list explodes in size. If you are new to riding, ask a club member. Believe me, everyone who rides goes through a rundown before every ride. Once you have your lists in writing, put them along with all your bike gear or leave them in your vehicle some place you will see it. Just like Santa, be sure to check it twice!
The last part of a ride is just as important as the first. Be sure to bring home what you brought to the ride. I have seen everything from gloves and water bottles to even the front tire left behind. Fortunately, our members really look out for each other and eventually your items get returned, but don’t always rely on them. A hint for the wheel would be to take the wheel off and lean it up against the driver’s door. This makes it harder to get in the car and drive away without first stowing the wheel.
That Friday morning, I went from being angry at myself to being a little embarrassed. Because I returned to the office so quickly after forgetting my helmet, my staff wanted to know why I was back so soon and I had to admit my mistake to them. All was well, though, once I was able to grab my helmet and go for a quick spin on my own! I hope this spurs you to create your own list and avoid the mistakes I have made.
John Summer – Ride Captain