Lâché

The French have an instinct to latch onto wheels that pass them on the road. It’s something I nearly never do unless I’m in a race, so I don’t really understand it.

Regardless, it happens to me from time to time. Today on the climb coming back into Nîmes, I passed a rider who ‘bonjoured’ me and kept his pace. His friend was a hundred meters up the road and I rode past him, too. Seconds later I could hear his squeaky crank right behind me.

It’s at this point decisions need to be made. Do you shift down and try to drop him? Sit up and see if he passes you? Keep the pace and hope he’s riding beyond his pay grade? When I get a wheel sucker I nearly always try and pretend I don’t know he’s there, then ramp up the power (if I can) gradually over the climb. The French are tenacious and this technique doesn’t always work, and I had this rider on my wheel for a kilometer or more before the squeak started to drift off into the distance. Is there any sweeter sound than a rider being dropped when you are the dropper?

That was a rhetorical question, by the way…

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12 thoughts on “Lâché

  1. I’m happy for folk to wheelsuck on two conditions. 1) their bike is as silent as mine. 2) they do a turn on the front.

    The exception is if somebody asks to sit on because they’re tired, which has happened a few times, and I’ve also done the same. Being pulled home when you’re absolutely spent makes me eternally grateful!

    Maybe in France it’s the thing to do. I was once touring in the south with panniers, grunting along and a quick guy pulled in front of me, slowed down and told me to stick on his wheel. He pulled me along for the next ten miles or so. Hero!

  2. I had the pleasure of overtaking a couple people on my ride yesterday. A rarity. I gave them each a hearty ‘bonjour’. The second lad decided to latch on as I’m sure looking at my fairly white goatee as I passed was too much for him to bear on his casual Sunday training ride. Other then the “Bonjour” and “Salut” we never spoke. but drafted each other a few times up to a 2km hill where I stayed (hung on) 10-15m behind as we climbed. We went down the hill on the other side and when we got to the intersection he turned left, I went straight and we said our “au revoir’s” and that was it. It gave me a kilometre or so rest in the 8 or so we rode ‘together’ but for me it was no big deal.

  3. Haha, excellent!

    It could be argued that if you choose to pass someone out on the road you are duty bound to ride away from them with a display of power. If you pass them, and don’t ride away, you are just passing them fro the sake of it.

    And that doesn’t look good.

    I’m talking Lancashire etiquette, for the record. I never know where I am with French cyclists!!

    • I like the argument. It wouldn’t look good on either the passer or the passee if you went by without blowing him away. I think I’ve found my new rule!

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