17.         Cycling in a pack or bunch - known as a Peloton

Riding in a tight pack or bunch enables a cyclist to ride up to 20% faster.  However, in order to achieve that increased speed, cyclists need to sit within approx 300mm behind the cyclist ahead to slip-stream.  Advantage gained from slipstreaming begins at 2-3 metres back. 

If the front wheel of a rear cyclist touches the rear wheel of a cyclist immediately ahead, the rear cyclist may easily fall down onto a very hard, sometimes gravely surface beneath.  Other "wheel touches" can evidence the front bike also capsize.

Cycling in a Peloton is contingent upon all the riders in that bunch being experienced, focused, enjoy a modicum of luck and agree documented rules, hereinafter called Peloton Protocols, because -

(I)         if two wheels touch particularly towards the front of a pack, a domino effect can rapidly unfold; or

(II)        if a rear cyclist is not alerted to a danger ahead he and others can "come down hard".

The thought of riding within 300mm may be daunting to the uninitiated.  Peloton Protocols exist for everybody's comfort and safety, in particular -

(A)        not engaging in idle chatter, but Maintaining Peak Concentration;

(B)        alerting by hand signals cyclists behind of Upcoming Dangers (potholes, glass, debris); and

(C)        sharing "braking the wind"

The ride leader and other riders who generally hang around towards the front of a pack, and do their share of "braking the wind", are generally responsible for Peloton Protocols.

Below are examples of Peloton Protocols:

*          Race etiquette and bunch riding safety tips

*          Bunch Riding Rules and Etiquette

Material legal issues exist if Peloton Protocols are not adhered to, in particular -

A.        Maintaining Peak Concentration; and

B.        alerting cyclists behind of Upcoming Dangers.

Avoid cycling in a Peloton if you haven't agreed Peloton Protocols, as the cyclist up front is generally considered to hold a duty of care to warn the cyclist behind of any potholes, dangerous drainage grids, rocks etc.  And, in turn, cyclists in each subsequent row of the Peloton are similarly required to convey those warnings, either by hand signals, verbally or both.

Unless Peloton Protocols are agreed by cyclists in a Peloton, if a cyclist sits on another cyclist's wheel it is incumbent upon the cyclist behind to alert the cyclist ahead -
*        of his close presence, and
*        if he expects the cyclist ahead to warn of dangers ahead.
Because the cyclist ahead might successfully argue that it did not invite you to draft him, and did not owe you a duty of care to warn of upcoming dangers.

Do not ride in a Peloton in foggy or mist conditions where visibility ahead is poor.

A further material danger of cycling in a Peloton is that larger, longer vehicles can struggle to pass without clipping the front cyclists.  A truck may be travelling quickly and come around a corner and be confronted by a Peloton climbing a hill travelling materially slower, say 45km slower than the truck.  The driver may be conscious of his momentum and decide to pass the Peloton by veering into the lane on the RHS for traffic travelling the opposite direction and shortly be confronted by a fast travelling vehicle coming in the opposite direction.  The human and metal carnage could be horrific.

Occasionally a few Muggaccinos cyclists who maintain the same ride speed may draft each other in a single Snail Trail, but are encouraged not to ride in a Peloton due to the above dangers.  Each Sunday’s “Ride Route Description” lists the 2 or 3 Nosh Stops (for a 30 min refuel stop) interspersed between a 100km ave ride drawn from Muggaccinos +36 different 100km+ Ride Routes which visit cafes around the perimeter of Sydney from -

*         Wyong in the North;

*         Windsor/Richmond/Kurrajong in the NW;

*         Cobbitty/Picton out West; and

*         Austinmer/Wollongong Harbour in the South. 

Faster cyclists generally enjoy longer Nosh Stops.  Slower cyclists often start the ride promptly, and commence the 2nd and 3rd ride legs a few mins earlier than faster cyclists. 

NB: In the USA, a wife, Sue For Damages, of a fallen cyclist, Dead Fred, sued for USD12m -

      *        a careless cyclist, Negligent Nathan, who dropped his mobile phone after answering a call whilst in a ride Peloton; and

      *        the ride leader, Not Strict Enough, for not previously reprimanding Negligent Nathan's careless riding behaviour.

      Negligent Nathan's fallen cell 'phone had caused Dead Fred's death.

      Dead Fred had previously complained to Not Strict Enough about Negligent Nathan's sloppy Peloton Protocols, including not Maintaining Peak Concentration.

      Sue For Damages -

      *         lost the family business which 'inter alia' supported their three young children because Negligent Nathan hadn't Maintained Peak Concentration causing Dead Fred's death; and

      *        'ipso facto' Sue For Damages sought damages and costs from Negligent Nathan and Not Strict Enough for her foregone income to support herself and her three bambinos

In addition, to warning a cyclist ahead if U are drafting him, also
make sure U have current public liability third party insurance cover because someone might be drafting U and contend that U owe him a duty of care to warn of Upcoming Dangers, even if he hasn't previously resolved that obligation with you.