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Tales from the front of the peloton

September 12, 2010

To any non-cyclists out there, a pack of riders just looks like that.  A pack.

But there are important differences between rider formations that aid in wind resistance and getting the most bang for your buck when riding with a group.

In the group I ride with, the peloton usually rides two abreast, with up to 30 total riders (more than 30 is really hard to keep together with stop lights and such).


[ source ]

This is how we ride 90% of the time.  Except for the riders at the very front (the “pullers”), the other cyclists tuck themselves behind the rider in front of them and stay 6” behind their back wheels for maximum wind-avoidance (aka draft potential).

Occasionally, we will use an echelon formation.


[ source ]

Echelons are used when there is a strong crosswind.  In the picture above, the crosswind would be coming from the left side of the picture, so the guy in the top left is to the right and front of the person next to him who is to the right and front of the person next to him and so on.  This forces the first rider (the puller) on the left side of the picture to take the bulk of the wind so that the other riders can save some energy. 

We don’t use echelons to this degree much because we don’t have more than one lane to work with on any street.  Sometimes we will ride two abreast in a staggered formation such as above, but it really doesn’t provide the same benefits.

The sinus infection I came down with after Hotter’n Hell knocked me flat on my back for nearly 2 weeks.  I haven’t done much riding, running, or swimming because every time I’d start to feel a little better, I’d wake up the next morning feeling sick again.  It’s the sinus infection that never ends.

This morning, I decided I had had enough.  Not working out isn’t really an option since my next race is on October 3rd and I’ve already registered.  But working out at a high intensity seems to make things worse, so this morning I joined a slower group for what was supposed to be a social, easy ride.  I’ve ridden with this group several times and each time, I end up pulling.  I actually prefer pulling because it gives me the freedom to set the pace and attack hills, but today I really just wanted to take it slow. 

Unfortunately, it was not meant to be.  No one volunteered to pull even after I said I wasn’t up to it today, so we set out with me in front.  Things were going fine until the riders right behind us (me and David, who was also pulling [we ride two abreast, so there are always two pullers])started complaining that we were attacking hills too fast but not going down hills fast enough.  At that point, I got very angry.  Here I am, doing all of the work even when I am sick and am not up to it, and you’re complaining?  That’s how that group rolls (ha!) – they don’t take turns doing the work and expect the same people to put in the work all the time.  There needs to be a give and take – it doesn’t help the riders in the back to get faster or better if they don’t put in their time at the front.  And it doesn’t help the pullers to day in, day out kill themselves.  Riding is like running – to be good at it you have to do it a lot.  Mostly easy, sometimes hard.

The lack of sharing the workload is not an issue with the faster groups – people take their turns pulling and there is always someone willing to help out if the usual puller isn’t feeling it that day. 

Needless to say, I’ll probably do my easy rides on my own from now on.  I surely don’t mind putting in the time, and on most other days, don’t mind putting in ALL the time, but I think it’s ridiculous that those that were healthy wouldn’t put in a few miles of work.

So. 27.37 miles in 1:41.


One of the things I’ve been working on is trying to spend a little more time preparing food rather than doing the frozen meal thing.  I really think there is a place in a healthy diet for select frozen meals (I like Amy’s), but they should be saved for when you’re in a pinch… not every day.

Like most couples, we have staples that we (Matt) make frequently.  Pasta Bake, variations on a mexican-ish rice casserole that we fondly refer to as mexi-crap, and homemade pizza.   But we’re trying to break out of those habits because who wants to eat the same things all the time?

So in brainstorming tonight, Matt suggested BLTs.  And the lightbulb went on.


I made a B.A.L.T. by smashing 1/3 of an avocado with a little s+p and layering it on Kinnikinnick sandwich bread already spread with a little mayo (I was clearly feeling the whole ‘fat’ thing). 

Add some vine-ripened tomato slices (sad that they have lost their color already…)


some Hormel bacon (love Hormel and their clear labeling rules),

IMG_3252  and some romaine… and you have the best B(A)LT I’ve ever tasted.


(I had some leftover brussels sprouts and tomato slices on the side but they escaped the camera.)

Quick to put together, super tasty, and not wallet-breaking.  My kind of dinner.

Hope you had a nice weekend!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 12, 2010 5:59 PM

    So interesting! I’m so sorry you still aren’t feeling that great. Sinus infections are the pits. Hopefully it’ll turn around this week. Planning & prepping ahead is the only way we end up with decent dinners. We haven’t had brussels in ages- I need to pick some up

  2. October 20, 2010 12:29 PM

    Oh man! It’s like the bacon is calling me! 🙂 How sad is that? Your sandwich looks yumm!

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