Question: I am considering going on a 10 day bike tour in Italy. Everything about the trip looks great except for the fact the average speed of the riding is significantly below what I am accustomed to. Is there a device one can attach to a road bike that can consume 50 to 75 watts? — Luc G
The RBR Coaches Respond
Coach John Hughes
When I led tours that had riders of different abilities I did several things.
- Have the stronger rider(s) start a little later. Not so late that they’d screw up rest stop timing.
- I also include bonus miles. If someone was faster they could climb another pass or something.
Tours are not just to get from point A to point B but also to see what’s along the way. A stronger rider has more time to take photos, check out interesting things en route, have a coffee in a cafe. I didn’t invite back riders who weren’t interested in the journey.
On PAC Tours when I was much fitter than others I made a point of riding with the slower riders, learning about them and generally helping them along. I’d be sure I spent some time riding with each person. Very rarely was someone so boring I didn’t want to talk to him/her.
I’d also time trial to the first rest stop and then I was sufficiently tired I’d be fine riding more slowly.
(Turned out that Coach Fred has indeed written about the topic, and we found it! How Can I Force Myself to Slow Down)
The solutions are along the lines of: going ahead to get in a hard effort and then riding back; climbing up the hill to the top then going back down and chasing back; letting gaps open and then going hard as you want to close the gap – stuff like this. You end up looking kind of foolish to the other riders, but if it’s the only way you can tolerate a slow pace, then you got to do what you got to do.
Coach Rick Schultz
Agreed. Do your sets of intervals, then when done, settle back in with the group. Maybe do 1-legged drills, etc.
Regarding if there’s a device one can attach to a road bike that can consume 50 to 75 watts? Yes, tighten the rear brakes so they drag.
Jim’s follow up:
Ah, yes, the old dragging brake trick 😉 Good one, Rick.. sometimes used at rest stops to goof on your unsuspecting buddy. I guess installing super heavy tires and tubes would add some watts – like thornproof tubes and wire bead tires. Then run them at too-low pressures.
Do you have any cycling questions you’d like to ask? You can submit them here.
Stan Purdum says
Regarding the dragging brake, here’s a excerpt from my book Roll Around Heaven All Day about my cross-country bike trip:
We left Shannon and Stacy removing outer layers of clothing, and we soon began the climb toward Ochoco Pass. I was alarmed that I needed to shift to my lowest gear almost immediately. Scott slowed to stay with me, and soon the Shannon/Stacy duo overtook and then passed us, climbing smoothly. I noticed that the young woman, mounted on the rear or “stoker” saddle, seemed hardly to be exerting herself at all. Meanwhile, I continued to labor, baffled that I had to work so much harder than Scott.
Eventually we came to a dip in the climb, which should have provided me some relief. It did not. What was going on? At this rate, I’d be wiped out for the day by 10 a.m.
Finally, I became suspicious that the problem might not be my energy level after all. When I stopped and examined my bike, I noticed that one of the shock cords I used to attach my tent and sleeping bag to the rear rack was not hooked to the bike frame, but to the rear brake, which the cord had pulled against the wheel rim. I’d ridden for nearly 10 miles with one brake half on!
After I moved the cord to its correct position, I rode as easily as if a ball and chain had suddenly been removed from my leg.
Schubert John says
If you’re feeling itchy on a slow/social ride, it’s a great time to work on your spin training. Gear down and rev your cadence up to 120 or so. If it feels uncomfortable. . . GOOD! You’ve exposed a weakness you can fix by training. Over time, you’ll learn to be smooth — and motionless above the hips — with a hummingbird-like cadence. 120 might even give way to 13o, 140. (Great trackies can do 180, but I picked the wrong parents to have that kind of coordination.)
Why bother? Because it’ll feel cool the next time you want to accelerate, and you don’t even have to upshift. The revolutions will keep coming and coming.
Keary Everitt says
Here’s a thought. Slow down and don’t peddle as fast as usual. Enjoy the company and scenery.
Take the slow bike with the really slow heavy tires. Make sure they have less than optimal inflation.
Or, you could REALLY mess up your bike fit . . . raise the saddle 2-3cm, for example, and see how much slower it makes you!
Andrew Kundrat says
How about loading a back pack with cheese and bottles of wine and ale for the group to have at the rest stops? That might provide the need drag, especially if you hear the bottles clanging.
JON MACRAE says
there is a device that can go onto your bike.
it is the AirHub.
it is a wheel that replaces the front wheel.
It contains an in built dynamo like type device, to produce a resistance of up to 200 Watts. It does generate it’s own power, so no batteries required.
the system can be set to keep you at a constant speed or watts and others that can be controlled via a garmin or other head unit or phone app.
it is used by the Pro’s to increase their efforts.