I thought I would post a thread on the subject of drafting and riding in groups which I think is still fairly new to unicyclists. It’s been discussed a few times but I don’t think there is a specific thread for it.
With the upcoming Ride The Lobster Race, as well as organised tours like The Uninam Unitour, I think we need to learn how to ride more efficiently. It’s not just about going fast, it’s more fun if you don’t have to work so hard .
Anyway, as a bicyclist, you gain advantage from riding in the slipstream of the bicyclist in front. It’s more noticeable at high speeds, but even at the lower speeds that unicyclists ride at (eg 20-25km/hr) you can still gain quite an large effect.
I think we tend underestimate the effect because we’re not used to drafting. Some of the reasons that the drafting effect is actually bigger than you realise are:
- if you have a headwind, then it effectively magnifies the speed that you travel at. You don’t need to ride at 50kmhr to get the slipsteam effect if there is a stiff headwind.
- unicyclists generally are less aerodynamic than bikes- your frontal profile is much larger. Therefore the effect of the lead rider of a unicycle is much higher than it would be if you were drafting a bicycle.
- unicycles have a shorter wheelbase compared to bikes. So the effect is that you are riding closer together compared to bikes if you kept your wheels the same distance apart.
The commonly held reasons people are put off riding in groups are:
- Risk of UPD’s taking down the group. Well, this holds for bikes also and bikes generally tend to go at much higher speeds so a crash get’s a lot more messy. And there are more things to get tangled up in. As long as you are not riding over you limit and you look past the cyclist in front, I think with practice most people can ride safely in close formation.
- It’s not worth the effort. As I mentioned before, I think the effect is much greater than most people realise (see reasons above). From my experience it’s almost as noticeable as riding in a bike peleton.