It is those long hard rides you do on your own, without drafting, that will make all the different to your speed and your bike times in triathlon.
It is those long hard rides you do on your own, without drafting, that will make all the different to your speed and your bike times in triathlon. Contributed

Learn the drafting rules for triathlons to avoid penalty

IT WAS another great weekend of triathlon action at the weekend, with many Gladstone residents making the trip down, bike in hand, to Hervey Bay for the Hervey Bay 100.

The distance for the triathlon was 2km swim, 80km ride and 18km run.

We all managed to cover 100km on the day.

As well as the seasoned campaigners, there were quite a few newbies, which was surprising, given the distances of each leg of the race.

As we sat at the race briefing on Saturday evening, one of the main topics of conversation (especially with the newbies) was around drafting, and what the rules are relating to drafting.

Well, here goes.

As he was explaining the race rules, the race marshal was very blunt.

His words were simply "drafting is cheating".

In triathlon, it is illegal to draft (which simply means ride closely behind another rider, so that they are pushing the wind, and you get the benefit of their hard work by sitting in their slipstream).

At the elite, or the Olympic Games level, drafting is part of triathlon, as it adds another element of spectator entertainment, but at our amateur level, drafting is highly frowned on.

Mind you, I didn't see too much drafting on the weekend, not nearly as much as I would usually see at a large event.

The thing about drafting is that it allows the drafting rider to travel at the same pace, with up to 30% less effort and less output.

That is a huge amount, especially over say, an 80km ride, where the average speeds for some Gladstone riders are more than 37kmh.

Saving energy, while someone else does the work is a little unfair.

The drafting rules are quite simple to understand, but very hard to apply.

Just stay 12m from the bike in front of you, if you get overtaken, you need to drop back out of the 12m draft zone immediately.

If you are overtaking, you have 30 seconds to get into the 12m draft zone and pass the rider in front.

Finally, you must never overtake on the left of another rider.

Now, if you get caught drafting, you will be given a stint in the penalty box (generally five minutes).

What is the key message this week?

If you are new to triathlon, try to understand and apply the drafting rules religiously. It will spoil your day if you get a five-minute penalty.



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