Posted by: rustymccain | July 9, 2011

Rest Day Thoughts on Drafting

Today we have a rest day. I am going to post a few random photos we have taken, some stats and a little philosophy. Those who know me, know I can’t help a little pontificating on occasion.

Shoe Tree in the Nevada Desert

Over the last 35 days, we have pedaled 2355 miles. That is an average of 67 miles a day. On the actual riding days (minus the four rest days we have had), we have averaged 76 miles. We have a little under 1500 miles to go in the next three weeks. We have no rest days planned but have one “flex” day that will probably be used as a rest day.

Duelling Cameras

I have had more time to think than I probably need, given the brain power that I possess, but I have thought a lot recently about drafting. Drafting is one of the best parts of cycling. Going headfirst into a headwind takes a lot of effort. Simply tucking in behind someone can save you a lot of energy. Some scientists have said that a cyclist can save as much as 40% of their energy by drafting.

Little Bit of Snow

The bigger the person in front of you, the better the draft. I have been told by Mary Ann that there are times when she drafts in back of me that there is a certain peace. There is a quiet and an almost total lack of wind that makes her cycling almost effortless. Of course you have to be close enough in fitness level to the person you are drafting to ride with comfort. If you are not pretty evenly matched, it can be stressful, if not impossible.

It's a Profit Deal

It is also true that the closer you get to the person in front of you, the better the draft. Drafting saves so much energy, you can almost say it gives you energy. It allows you to go longer and have the energy you need to finish the ride. And, as all cyclists know, sometimes you are in a good position and feel strong and can provide a draft. Sometimes you need to sit in and feel the effects of a good draft just pull you along.

Another thought I had was this: “Why can’t I make my relationships like drafting.” What would it be like to have the personality that would make someone want to tuck in and enjoy the ride. When someone is running headfirst into the winds of life and working as hard as they can work just to make some progress, I think it would be nice to be the draft rather than the wind. I would like to be able to provide peace and quiet in those lives with whom I come in contact and for them to feel that the relationship is effortless.

As people interact with me, I need to ask myself, “Are they walking away with more energy or less energy than they had before?” And if I can provide that energy, maybe I need to allow them to get closer, so the draft is even better for them.

I think the other side of that is that I need to constantly evaluate to make sure that, even if I can’t provide a draft, at least I am not the headwind. That takes introspection and honesty with oneself, which is sometimes difficult.

The one scientific thing about drafting that many cyclists don’t know is that there is evidence to show that drafting actually helps not only the person drafting, but the person being drafted. By calming the air behind, the person drafting can help the person in front, just by being there. So, my “relationship drafting” is not only good for those people around me, it helps me as well.

I am far from a great cyclist, but I can be content that I am working at it. I may not be great at relationships with family, friends and co-workers, but I can be content that I am getting better if I just remember the principles of drafting.

We have not responded to any posts by people, but we want you to know that we read everything you send, every night, and usually read them over and over again. You are providing us a draft as we head to the east coast. As you text, email or post a comment, keep in mind that you are just ahead of us, making our way easier. Thanks.


  1. Amen !

  2. Rusty, awesome perspective on life. Great pull, you guys got the point for all of us across our great nation. Keep up the good work, I am sitting up and enjoying the ride.

    Hey boyz, I hope your rest day was rejuvenating for the final push to the finish. When you guys get up tomorrow and are ready to mount those green machines for the day’s work try this: turn your room air conditioner on high cool and high fan, stand in front of it side-by-side and back up to it, then… wait for it… wait for it… now that’s it, that is what a tailwind feels like, a cool breeze blowing firmly on your butt. Maybe, just maybe you will find this elusive creature and it will push you both to the Atlantic! Be safe.

  3. Go rusty & ray!  Bob Boer & I (along with the whole ACME crew) are racing Chattanooga in the morning!   Enjoy the rest of the ride & keep the great blogging going. Yahoooooooooo!

  4. Uncle Rusty,

    I love this! Although I only got to draft off of you for a literal five minutes and a figurative few days I have to say you just might have figured this all out. I can only imagine the effect you have on those who have the pleasure of drafting on a more frequent basis. If only Bob could read blogs! 😉 Thank you for being a huge part of what made this last week absolutely unforgettable.

    Give my girls a hug!


  5. I’ve been drafting behind you for twenty years, and it’s been a great ride.

  6. Rusty,
    As a blogger, I really appreciate a great piece of writing and your example of drafting as a metaphor for relationship building was great. All that time on the bike thinking is not wasted when it generates creativity like that. Have a safe rest of the ride and say hello to Ray for me.
    Charlie Finnegan

    • I agree with Charlie regarding your piece linking drafting to relationship building. It was so thoughtful and full of wisdom that it has been turning over in my mind ever since. I’m not a preacher, but there has to be a great sermon in there somewhere. More thoughts as you all ride on. Your blog and photos are the high of my day. Rita

  7. Rusty, i’ve been drafting off you ever since I met you! You have provided one of the biggest drafts in my life. Every time you tell a story about your past, i learn something new about you and myself. I’ve learned that no matter how hard I push, I can always push harder…. and it’s always OK if I want to push less. I hope one day I can return the draft.

  8. Great comments and thoughts about drafting for cycling and life. I am a friend of Joe Vaughn. Good luck on rest of ride. I wish I could do it.
    Mike Arrowood

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