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Riding the LONDON-PARIS in Group 2? Ride Captain Top Tips

Group 2: Dave “Whisk” Sidgwick

Whisk has a background in rowing and, like many rowers, got seduced by triathlon. He gravitated more and more to cycling though and, in 2010, joined London to Paris as a member of the Pearson’s Cycling team in Group 1.

He rode again in 2011, got to know the Ride Captains and Hotchillee Event Team and was asked to join the Ride Captain team in 2012.

He’s ridden London to Paris as a Ride Captain every edition since, across almost all the groups but this will be his first experience of Group 2.

Hotchillee Ride Captain David Sidgwick

What’s the Ride Captains’ role on the road?

We’re effectively the Super Domestiques for the riders. We’ll set the pace on the front taking the wind, close gaps and encourage and help riders hanging on the back. Basically keep the group rolling smoothly, safely and efficiently. 

Describe the Group 2 experience in a single sentence

For the men, it’ll be a decent paced smooth group that’ll largely be composed of experienced riders who don’t want the pressure of racing in Group 1.  However for the women, this is where the racing takes place!

What average speed will Group 2 be aiming for?

All being well conditions wise, we’ll be tapping along at about 28/29 kph. 

That’s a bit faster than I manage on my own, should I be worried?

No. Being in a well managed group of 30-40 riders will allow you to save energy in the wheels and up your average speed. Also, once we’re in France and have the motorbike outriders, we won’t have to slow for junctions etc and this makes a real difference to our pace. The only time you’ll need to unclip are at feed stations and the lunch stop. 

How important are group riding skills and how can I learn them?

It’s important in all of the groups to have an awareness of the riders around you and be comfortable following a wheel. You’re not going to be riding in an unstructured fluid elbow to elbow peloton like you’d see in the Tour de France though – most of the time you’ll be two by two. 

If the bulk of your riding is solo, doing some club runs or joining one of our monthly rides would be a good idea. 

https://www.hotchillee.com/hotchilleehandbook-group-riding-tips/ 

Any big faux-pas that will put me on the wrong side of the Ride Captains?

For me, it’s unscheduled stops. Sometimes they’re unavoidable but they always disrupt the group and mean a chase to get back on. Whether it’s having a “comfort break” or taking off a jacket, ask yourself whether it can wait for a scheduled stop which do come fairly regularly. 

What happens if I’m struggling to keep up?

The Ride Captain at the back will do their best to help you, there could be scope to get in a vehicle and, for the two days in France, to drop down a group at the next feed. You won’t be left on your own but the best solution is prevention and not being overly ambitious in the group you select to ride with. If in doubt, err on the conservative side.

hotchillee-bike-maintenance

What happens if I have a puncture or mechanical will I be left to fend for myself?

No, the mechanic will be there to sort you out and you won’t have to be fixing a flat yourself by the side of the road. In the pre-disc world, this was super simple and quick but it might be a case now that you have to go in the mechanic’s van for a bit while he sorts you out. 

https://www.hotchillee.com/hotchillee-handbook-bike-maintenance/ 

How important is on the bike nutrition?

On multi-day events you really have to be on top of your fuelling and hydration as, if you let it slip, it’ll impact subsequent days. There are opportunities to top up your bottles and jersey pockets every 40-50km and you can have a drop-bag/musette waiting at the lunch stop for you, so there’s no need to have everything you need on you from the off. 

https://www.hotchillee.com/hotchillee-handbook-top-ten-cycling-nutrition-tips/ 

What’s happens post-ride each day on London to Paris?

Day One is always a bit pressured with getting across to France but there’s still time for a bit of socialising. Once we’re in France, it’s as social as you want to make it just remembering you will need to get up and ride the next day!

https://www.hotchillee.com/hotchillee-handbook-rest-and-recuperation/ 

Any tips on kit and clothing?

We’ve had every weather condition from torrential rain to heatwaves so bring kit and layers to cover all eventualities. Pack bags within your main bag with the kit you’ll need for each day in them. This saves having to rummage through your kit every evening. 

Final Group 2 sales pitch 

If you want a great brisk ride without the stress or changes of pace associated with racing, join me in Group 2 – it’ll be a blast. 

Top Tips

  • Pack some chain lube and a small cloth to clean your bike and oil your chain, carry it in a small zip lock bag.
  • Pack your kit for each day in a large zip lock with bars and gels rationed and ready to go, so you are organised each day.
  • Look at the weather forecast and be prepared as we have had cold wet conditions in the past so arm/leg/knee warmers and a rain cape at the ready. Sun cream stick. Flip flops and a t-shirt for post ride bus ride to the hotel. Beer money to buy the Ride Captains a beverage post ride… 😉

 

See you at the start for the briefing, if you have any questions in the meantime please feel free to contact Ride Captain Gareth via the Hotchillee App

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