How to Ride in a Peloton

Feb 15, 2012
Outside Magazine

Riding in the peloton during the Cal Aggie Criterium    Photo: Robert Couse-Baker/Flickr


How to spit in the pack

Former elite road and velodrome cyclist and now coach for hire David Brinton has taught thousands of newbies and pros how to pedal in a pack. So before you roll with a club, master his list of essential skills with a couple of experienced (and forgiving) riding buddies:

(1) Keep your front wheel six inches to a foot behind the rear wheel of the rider ahead of you. FOCUS on his hips.
(2) Etiquette for passing and other movement varies from group to group, but one rule is king: Surprises are bad, so be PREDICTABLE.
(3) Only the lead rider can see potential dangers, so safety depends on COMMUNICATION, with riders calling or pointing out obstacles. Stay alert and quickly pass warnings down the line.
(4) DOWNSHIFT before red lights or you'll get dusted when it turns green.
(5) DON'T slam on the brakes, look down, space out, or overlap your front wheel with rear wheels. Ever.

BONUS SKILL: Spit in the Pack
As peloton protocol goes, clocking the guy behind you with a loogie ties with sulfuric flatulence for the ultimate no-no. Avoid this gaffe by spitting like a pro:

(1) Lean forward slightly and bow your head to one side.
(2) Extend your arm toward the ground, palm forward.
(3) Spit in front of your arm, which will block any spray.