The Chain Gang meets at 6.30pm just off the Black Cat roundabout every Tuesday evening during the Spring and Summer (first Tuesday in April to the first/second Tuesday in September) – when there is enough light to cycle safely.
What is a Chain Gang?
“Chain Gang” is the name given to four or more cyclists all working together closely to maintain a high speed training ride (very much like the Team time-trials in the Tour de France) but not quite as fast!!
Do I have to be a Rhos Cycling Club member to take part?
NO, everyone is welcome. We are pleased to welcome anyone who is willing to give it a go, please bring your mates as well. Usually, riders who are new to Chain Gangs will be invited to ride, initially, at the rear of group and observe the workings of the group. Then, when they feel ready, they will be better placed to join in fully and start coming through-and-off with the others.
Will I be able to keep up? AND what speed does it go?
Basically there’s only one way to find out! But if you can cycle on the flat at 19 to 20 mph you can hang on. It is always our intention to get newcomers to flourish in the group; the overall speed will depend very much on who turns up. Chain Gangs earlier in the year/season are used as part of training sessions for cycle races by some members. Spring rides are slower, with the speed rising to a maximum in August as ‘chain gangers’ fitness builds.
I’ve only got a bit of experience of riding in a group before!
Most people who have limited experience of riding in a group really enjoy it. You can ride much quicker than when solo. But, before embarking on a Chain Gang it is usually a good idea to have gained some experience of group riding by participating in either the Saturday or Sunday rides.
At first it is daunting how close people ride together, usually between 3 and 10 inches, from the wheel in front of you, and almost rubbing shoulders. The main thing is smoothness NO erratic breaking, swerving or quick changes in speed. REMEMBER, YOU COULD BRING EVERYONE DOWN. The best advice for a complete novice on the Chain Gang is stay at the back (“sit on”) and always ride behind the last rider, when he pulls out to ride up the front on the outside, tuck in behind the next rider coming back. Watch how it works and concentrate on maintaining a short gap between yourself and the rider in front – if the gap gets too big you’ll be dropped off the back. When you feel comfortable, move through and do a “turn”, then “sit on” again for a while. Avoid the temptation to do too much work too early, THERE’S NO SHAME IN SITTING ON (not when you start anyway!) and remember after Llanrwst things get quicker.
How does it work?
The Chain Gang works by employing slip-streaming or drafting. By riding close behind another rider (i.e. “on their wheel”) there is a 35% saving in effort, and the front (lead) rider requires 8% less effort due to the air not closing behind him/her causing drag. When everyone’s arrived and it looks like no-one else is coming, we set off down the valley at warm up pace, going over Bodnant Hill. By the time we get to Tal-y-Cafn we start “THROUGH & OFF”. This is the process whereby the person at the rear pulls out, increases speed by about ½ mph and begins to overtake all the other riders who are now to the left. As he passes, the next rider at the rear also pulls out gently and follows him through, keeping close to his rear wheel. When a rider reaches the front they pull in to the left, taking the lead, and ease the pace by ½ mph. The new last rider repeats the process. It sounds complicated but you’ll get the idea very quickly.
What’s the benefit?
The whole Chain Gang will benefit by you coming along, the more riders we have the quicker we all go. The benefit for the individual is your speed WILL rise – if you do “Time Trials” you will see mounting improvement in your times. Working on the Chain Gang is like doing short intervals for over an hour! Also if you plan to try Road Racing, the Chain Gang is good practice and builds your confidence for riding in groups.
Riding in large groups has its dangers, and mutual trust and respect is required between all riders. It is the responsibility of everyone to warn of dangers,and those at the front MUST warn other riders of hazards, as these may be obscured from their view. The shouts you may hear are:-
- “Out” with a hand signal behind to move out to the middle on the road – often used when approaching parked cars.
- “Left” danger on left. Could be a manhole, gravel, water, rocks.
- “Middle” danger in middle of group, manhole, rock on road, etc.
- “Steady” everyone slow down – could be a Give Way, a road junction with car coming, a vehicle in front slowing down.
- “Car up” Car, overtaking, from behind.
- “Car down”Car approaching from front.