Getting dropped from a group happens to all of us. Even the best riders in the world get dropped. Pick yourself up and fight to get back on.
You can fall off the group for all sorts of reasons from reaching down to grab your water bottle for a drink, taking off a layer, getting gapped by another rider, being in the wrong position in the group, etc. For whatever reason below are some key tips to bridging back to the group.
First NEVER give up! You never know what will happen up the road. The strong rider(s) in the group could flat making the lead group disorganized causing them to slow down. Or riders in the lead group could begin to suffer leaving the pulling to only a few riders causing the lead group to slow down. You just never know what is going on up the road so don’t give up.
Regroup and get help. Looking around either up the road our behind you to regroup forming a paceline and work together. Many times one of the strong riders in a group will be in the wrong position getting gapped and dropped. Working together with other riders you can have enough engine power to bridge back up to the group. It is a sign of inexperienced rides who have been drooped who don’t work together but ride solo trying to bridge the gap. Don’t make this mistake. If there are other wheels around you there is a way back to the lead pack!
Respond quickly and close the gap fast! If you do get gapped or dropped close it fast and get back on. Others are suffering just like you. Many times if you can just hold on for a split second longer or get back on the group, the group slows down allowing you to recover. Pushing air by yourself is much harder than suffering for a few seconds to get back on. It is much easier to recover riding in the pack than on your own. Put your Nike’s on and JUST DO IT; close the gap while it is small.
Put your blinders on and go into time trial mode. If the gap is large don’t panic. Relax, breath, and don’t try to bridge the gap in one sprint up to the group. You will blow up. Ease into a steady time trial pace collecting your energy to bridge the gap over time. A group bike ride is like a book of matches. You start will a full book of matches and each time you sprint, take a pull, bridge a gap you burn a match. Eventually you run out of matches and your done. Get into a steady mode where your conserving your matches and keep the pace over a period of time with the chance of getting back on.
Don’t sit on the back move to the front. Lastly, when you bridge the gap use your speed and the draft of the other cyclist to move to the front. Getting to the front will give you more protection to recover so you don’t get dropped again. It is tempting to sit on the back of the pack but your are risking getting dropped again. It actually takes more energy and is harder sometimes on the back of the pack. Move towards the front and sit in; ideal right behind the rotating paceline.