Having ridden two-ups for quite a few years now, Team Grumpy have a few pointers to share. Our first efforts can quite generously be described as "Laurel and Hardy go Time Trialling". We were really quite clueless from the outset: we hadn't figured out how long we should each ride in each spell at the front and in fact we couldn't even do smooth changeovers. And our first attempt, which was fortunately an NBRC club event rather than an open event, was marked by one of us easing off immediately after the start to check the other was still there, which nearly caused an embarrassing pileup. So, in a serious counterpart to the Team Grumpy Rules (at the TG blog), here are some pointers to effective two-up riding:
1. Choose your partner wisely. Other than in the events specifically designed for a senior paired with a veteran, you should be well-matched not only in fitness but in riding style. You'll get nowhere as a team if one of you repeatedly drops the other.
2. You both need to have a smooth riding style. Effective two-up riding requires the following rider to be as close as is safe to the leading rider: this obviously requires confidence that the leading rider won't have sudden changes of pace. Classic examples are where the leading rider gets out of the saddle on climbs - this results in the bike decelerating sharply. With practice and experience, a two-up team will get used to each other and stop such irritating foibles.
3. Practice changeovers. We have found that short spells of 30 to 60 seconds are ideal (following advice from Phil Corley), and that the changeover is best determined by the leading rider. We manage this with the leading rider moving to the right and easing back slightly so that the following rider moves smoothly to the front. We used to use signals to indicate the changeover was about to happen, but in practice it's quite obvious because the leading rider has a quick look to check the traffic before starting the move.
4. Avoid speaking to each other during the event. In the past we've done this and had misunderstandings because we couldn't hear what was being said (aero helmets muffle one's hearing!). Anyway, it's not a club run and you should be riding hard enough that conversation's difficult!
5. Don't worry about speed. If you're using a bike computer, don't worry about the speed. It's not in your power alone to force the pace. It's better to keep an eye on your heart rate as an indicator of your effort, and try and get a sense for how your team mate is doing. If they are showing signs of flagging, use that to moderate your speed.
6. Avoid letting gaps open up. This can happen on descents (if one rider is more foolhardy than the other, or has bigger gears), ascents (if one rider is just better at climbing in the aero tuck), or on technical sections of the course, such as bends and turns in the road. With practice you'll find you get to know when gaps might open, and learn to avoid this.
7. Stay cool. At the end of the event, if you've done badly, remember it's a team effort, and don't have a go at your team mate for some perceived shortcoming. We've seen this first hand in other teams, and it ain't pretty! By all means have a reflective post mortem on what you might have done better, or where you might have lost time, but keep it constructive.
We'll add to this article periodically. Upcoming: tips and tricks realting to riding the Duo Normand - watch this space!