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How to Start Slipstreaming

By Sarah Bonner
Slipstreaming is an energy saving skill that not only helps you keep up with faster riders but helps you conquer the wind. It involves riding close enough behind the rider in front of you to be protected from the wind, making it easier for you to maintain the same speed.

1. Find a Friend: In order to slipstream, you need someone to ride behind. Pick someone you trust and have ridden with so you are both comfortable, and preferably someone with more experience so they can help coach you through.

2. Know the Deal: To slipstream, your front wheel should be about a foot away from the back wheel of the rider in front of you. If you get too close, simply move out into the wind to slow down or ease up on the pedals instead of using your brakes. Although it is best not to use your brakes when slipstreaming, always ride with your hands on the hoods or drops so you have easy access to your brakes just in case.

slipstream-positioning3. Time Goals: When starting out, find a quiet road and ask your friend to ride at a slow or moderate steady pace in front of you. Ride as close as you’re comfortable to your partner’s wheel for 15-30 seconds. Don’t worry if you are over a meter away at first, just try to hold the distance at a steady pace. Repeat this exercise, decreasing the distance between you and your partner and increasing how long you can hold it for.

cross-breeze-peleton4. Read the Wind: Once you can sit behind someone with ease, you can start learning how to use slipstreaming as an advantage. When the wind is blowing from the right, you should be sitting to the left of your partner’s back wheel and vice versa if there is a crosswind from the left. If there is a tailwind or a headwind, you stay directly behind. You should be able to feel it is harder to keep the pace outside of the “slip” but, if you are having trouble reading the wind, look at which way the trees and grasses are blowing on the side of the road.

Editor’s Note: Stay alert and never let your wheel come in contact with the wheel in front of you. If that happens there’s a high probability that you’ll go down, and you could take a few of your cycling buddies with you.


Sarah Bonner

Sarah Bonner the author of two e-articles, How To Use A Foam Roller: An Illustrated Guide for Cyclists and The Clean Girl’s Guide to Cycling: How to Clean Everything from Bar Tape to Sports Bras, has lived and cycled in Canada, Africa, and Europe. Currently, she splits her time between the Netherlands and South Africa where she trains and competes at an amateur level. With a Masters in English and a Diploma in Sports Management, Sarah combines her love of writing and passion for cycling to share honest advice and inspiring stories. Follow her at sarahkimbonner.wordpress.com

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