How to Ride a Cruzbike With Fast Traditional Bikes
June 15, 2018/ Maria Parker
I’m not sure how Kyle Larsen found his way to Cruzbike, but I’m learning so much from him and feel incredibly lucky to have him as a customer.
When I saw his recent post on Strava, I was even more impressed. Kyle created a video of a ride he did with a group of fast upright riders. In the Strava post (copied below), he speaks of his interaction with them and attached the narrated video.
I’ve now watched the video twice (on double speed – it is an hour long!) and in it and in the description below Kyle taught me some important things: things I have experience with, but never put words to.
For those of us who ride with fast traditional bikes, here are my takeaways from Kyle’s post.
- Keep your ego in check. When Kyle is informed by phone that he is not welcome in the group ride anymore, he simply tells the person he understands and follows it up with a face to face discussion. Kyle did not get angry, he did not flame on facebook or Strava or anywhere else. He wasn’t even offended. He just kept talking (in person) until he was told he could ride, albeit only by their rules.
- Be willing to ride off the front or the back. Kyle knows that there is less draft for the traditional riders behind a Cruzbike V20, so he rides off the back, allowing the group to rotate in front of him, but also does his fair share of the work by coming to the front. Experienced traditional riders know they can get a small draft and will take advantage of it when he is on the front.
- Show respect to the hard work being done by traditional bike riders. In his narration, Kyle acknowledges repeatedly that his riding buddies are doing 30% more work than he is because of the geometry of their bikes. We’re very aerodynamic on our V20s. That is a great advantage of our machine. It makes us smart riders, not harder working or more talented.
- You’ll have to work harder to catch up after a turn. The bike is heavier and slower to accelerate for that reason.
- Use a mirror. It allows you to see behind you and use more of the road during a turn or when passing.
- Sit up during fast turns where there might be debris. I sit up on nearly every turn. As Kyle points out sitting up puts more weight on the front wheel and can keep you upright. It also gives you better visibility of what’s on the road.
- Help your fellow cyclists. At one point during the ride, Kyle hangs back a little to pull a cyclist back up to the lead group.
- Get a feel for the group before making any moves. In the video, it is apparent that Kyle knows these riders well, but he still hangs back behind them to see what speed they are going before he moves to the front. When he’s at the front, unless he’s making a move, he is keeping them at the speed they seem to want to go. This is both tactics and good manners.
- See the opportunities. Kyle chooses to see the limitation that he must ride off the front or the back as a challenge to become a stronger rider and he did.
- Stand up for yourself. I love how Kyle quietly stands up for himself on the V20 in the face of the pressure to conform to the traditional bike culture. He could have been chastened and gone back to riding his upright bike with the group all the time. He still rides his upright bike sometimes, but he wanted to be able to ride the V20 too. As Kyle points out, the roads are public.
Here’s a copy of Kyle’s post on Strava. You can find it on Strava here.
Cruzbike in a group of uprights
Not sure the experience of others, but thought I’d share mine. I made a couple of super long videos with detail, but the culmination was that I got a phone call saying that, even though I had never been involved in an accident with the group, they had decided to ban recumbents from the ride for safety. I was welcome to ride my tarmac but not the vendetta and they suggested I should ride it on the other rides, just not this one. I told the ride leader that I understood what he was saying and followed up in person with a good discussion. After that discussion, he agreed that I could ride (they are public roads so, it was never really in question), but that it would be off the front – alone. I told him that was fine. It pushed me in fact to improve my time trialing ability so, it was a blessing in disguise. I trained up and on the next ride I took the KOM for the ride by two minutes solo. Subsequently, I gained some support from people who wanted to be challenged keeping up with me and I’m back to riding with a smaller group off the front. I’m really glad though that I took a stand and kept riding the bike I love most! I’m not the only recumbent rider either, but I keep telling them – one day, these roads will be filled with them!
Thanks for the blog post and vids. I have heard similar stories but in my home town of Louisville I have not had that problem when riding my S40. Of the something like 1800 members of the Louisville Bicycle Club I think there is a grand total of about 3 recumbent riders and I’m the only one on a CB. Fortunately, even the A group on Tuesday nights has been most welcoming. I have had a few individual riders ask if I would mind, on a rotating pace line, it they could slide back in front of me rather than behind. And the reason seems to be that sitting behind me, the sight of my knees bobbing up and down seems to be distracting or disorienting to some riders (but some of my more smart alec-y riding friends are also happy to ride back there and comment when my Wahoo Element starts blinking red, indicating my heart rate is topping out! They get a good, clean view of the Element from behind me) Of course I’m happy to oblige. On modest paced rides I will rotate with the group – and on the S40 I give a bit more of a pull than on a V20. On the most aggressive group rides I will take my turns at the back and occasionally move up (if I’m able) past the group to do a turn on front. When it comes to the last 2 miles of position wrangling and sprint set up, I am happy to stay on the back and just make a hard push at the very end when the coast clears ahead.
I too, ride my Silvio S30 with uprights and stay in the back. When it gets hilly, I have way different speeds: faster downhill and slower climbing. Sometimes, if I do not take advantage in the flats or downhills, I get dropped on the climbs. Or I will get ahead of the group anticipating the next climb. They all know me and how my speeds are going to be different. If a new rider shows up I tell them the recumbent program: just ignore me when I shoot out ahead and I don’t pull at the front because there is no draft behind me.
As long as the UCI bans recumbents and because most of the fast uprights are racer wanna-bees, there will be no increase in recumbents for that type of rider. Their loss. These last few minutes writing this response is about as long as I will spend in a year worrying about somebody else’s bike type.
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