Oct 15 2004

I have this theory!

Published by at 9:51 am under General

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For years I have known that riding close behind a moving vehicle, such as a lorry or a bus, allows you to get caught in the slipstream of the vehicle and be pulled along by it. This means that you can cycle very fast (30+MPH) with very little effort. The trouble is that you need to be right behind the vehicle and it only works and is beneficial if the vehicle is travelling at a constant speed for at least 1-200 meters.

But I now have a new theory that I have been trying to test recently whilst cycling into work (I’ve been off the roads for 2 months because of a speeding offence). The theory is that large vehicles also create a bow-wave effect (like a boat) that it is possible to be pushed along by. If this theory is correct then it has a number of immediate advantages over slipstream riding.

  1. You don’t need to be right behind the vehicle (if the vehicle stops you don’t ride into the back of it!!!)
  2. It doesn’t matter if the vehicle stops, you just cycle on to the next vehicle that is moving.
  3. It is possible to catch the bow-wave at low speeds (15mph?)

I have found this bow-wave effect to be most useful where there is a cycle path running along side the road and the vehicles on the road are in a traffic jam type situation that would be completely unsuitable for slipstreaming.

Obviously this is still just a theory that requires more experimenting. I still don’t know how close to the vehicle you have to be to take advantage of the bow-wave (I’ve generally been about 2 foot from the side of the vehicle) and I have a feeling I wont find out until next summer (as I back to riding my motorbike on Sunday).

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