This week's tip:
I owe much of my competitive success to cyclists, who've allowed me to tag along on training rides from here to Timbuktu. Were it not for the motivating shelter of their draft, I'd still be swimming in no man's land, with many fewer miles in my legs.
Drafting behind a bike allows you to "motorpace" at greater than race pace, which makes actual racing easier and more fun. Also, if you haven't quite mastered the art of controlling your speed, there's nothing like having a friend on a bike to brake for you.
Ask first, because many cyclists don't initially appreciate the fact that you can keep up with them and, if they do notice you back there, they may decide to "jump" and leave you in the dust with a quick acceleration.
Once they get to know you, however, they may like having you along. Aside from companionship, you may be able to help them out in a pinch, for instance by offering to lube their chain on the fly. On a recent blistering fast training skate in Shanghai, I was able to reach into my friend Martin's jersey pocket and answer a call from his girlfriend in France!
The best place to draft is directly behind the rear tire of the bike (just don't get so close that you burn yourself!) Unless you're with a buddy who's calling out every road hazard en route, you'll have to cast a glance around the side every once in a while to see what's coming up.
And be ready to straddle the rear wheel on a moment's notice in case your friend slows down unexpectedly. If contact is necessary, be sure to hold on to the seatpost so you don't push your partner off his saddle!
Eddy Matzger is one of the winningest skaters in the history of inline racing and the leader of the popular Eddy Matzger Workshops.
He's back from his TWINCAM-sponsored trip to China and was headed today to Boulder, Colo., for the funeral of friend and former inline racer Linnea Luscher (formerly Lindgren), who died Monday in a cycling accident.