(Editor's note: Dear Pedalheads is a weekly feature that will run through the summer with members of the local Team Whistler cycling crew answering your questions about all things biking. Please send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
This week’s question:
I have rode the full GranFondo course a couple of times, but I’m anxious about what it will be like with thousands of other riders on it at the same time. Are there any tips you have to make it a smooth and safe ride, or any sections of the course that can get a little hairy on race day?
Signed, Traffic Jam
Dear Traffic Jam,
Riding in a big group can be a little scary, to say the least. One really good way to avoid this is go like stink at the beginning and never let up — then you will have no one to bother with.
However, if this strategy doesn't work for you, there are a few things you can do to make the ride safer. Remind yourself: This is a big group ride more than a race. Take your time, pick your spots and go around people.
You will not lose a lot of time when you do this strategically and you will conserve energy as well. In other words, taking your time will improve your overall time with the added benefit of making it a safer ride.
When you have a tight group around you, do not make any quick movements. Try to think in slow motion. Move slowly and deliberately in a clear direction when you pass someone. People around you will have time to see your movements and not panic. Hold a straight line; do not make sharp movements left or right. Always do a shoulder check when you make your careful lane changes. Braking should be done gently — try not to grab a fistful of that brake lever too hard.
Do not go half-wheel. This is when your front wheel is overlapping the back wheel of the person in front of you. This is a big no-no.
The course is a good one — the only real dangers are the fast, downhill sections, but they have no tight switchbacks, so you can safely keep your speed high. Just pay attention to everyone around you and you will have a great day.