The Wednesday Chaingang is aimed at getting riders used to riding and working together, perhaps as a preliminary to stepping up to Tues/Thurs Chaingangs and racing. It focuses the techniques of riding ‘through-and-off’. These rides and runs all year round with separate routes for summer and winter. You’ll need good lights – especially on the winter route. Meeting time is 7pm at Elmer’s End (to leave at 7.15pm) getting back into South London at around 9pm. Numbers and average speed will vary depending on who’s out – some weeks will be faster than others – but there will usually be some experienced riders along to pass on tips and advice.
NB: Be clear to seek out the right group for you on a Wednesday. There are sometimes fast “racer” groups meeting on Wenesday which contain some of the club racers but also many from other clubs/teams in the area. This group will not wait and often “smash” the chaingain route.
As an alternative there is a regular club chaingang in Regent’s Park on Wednesdays evenings in the winter – this is a steadier-paced ride and laps the Outer Circle. If numbers warrant it, the group may split in two for a faster session on the Inner Circle. Meet at the corner of Chester Road and Outer Circle at 7pm. This tends to be arranged informally, so keep an eye on the forum. As with the other chaingang good lights are essential.
The basics of through-and-off
Two lines of riders, with the outside line moving slightly faster than the inside. When the first rider on the outside is a bike-length clear, the first rider on the inside calls “clear”. The outside rider should then move smoothly across to the inside and ease the pace slightly. (It is vital to curb the instinct to ride faster at this point, because the extra pace will eventually blow the group apart. ) That rider then waits for the next man on the outside line to pull clear – and so on. The whole thing should resemble a chain rotating at a smooth and steady pace.
Discipline at all times is paramount. This means calling “last man” as you pass the last rider on the inside so she/he knows it is clear to move across to the outside. If this is strictly adhered to, there should be no problems with people jumping into a gap (or wobbling around looking over their shoulders…)
If you’re knackered, then a flick of the right elbow should tell the rider behind that you’re sitting in for a bit to recover. When/if you rejoin the rotation you should call out clearly to make the rider in front aware of that.
It’s hard to keep the rotation going on hills, because riders’ climbing abilities vary. Wait for the slower riders at the top, regroup and resume through-and-off as soon as everyone’s ready.