Four tips to improve your Chain Gang ability

It’s been a while since I’ve been out on a training ride of any sort with the club let alone the Chain Gang. The last CG I took part in saw the pack immediately break away at the first roundabout leaving me and many others stranded before we’d even got a mile in. That was merely a poorly orchestrated CG though as usually riders would regroup to continue the team effort. Tuesdays CG was a much better experience, although my abilities were a little disappointing the group worked well together. A few things came to mind when I decided to drop out in the second half of the session though.. Here’s four useful tips that will help you develop you CG experience.


1.  Bring your summer bike regardless of weather. 

– I decided to take my Giant TCX as the weather was set to turn and I was feeling too lazy to clean my Scott. The TCX is a heavy commuter tank rolling on 32mm tyres with a small cyclo-cross rear cassette. This was of no benefit whatsoever. The wider tyres meant more resistance and the heavy bike meant more strain on my energy levels. It didn’t even rain!

2.  ‘Last man’/’Clear’/’Out’ – Call out your position. 

– It’s easy to forget to call your place whilst in a Chain Gang. Forgetting ‘last man’ (at the back) or ‘clear’ (when coming to the front of the slowing line) can mean others have to work harder to close gaps. This happened a few times on Tuesday meaning I had to commit more effort to closing the gap of the faster line which is unnecessary energy loss! If someone forgets, remind them! Equally don’t assume the positions of others will be the same throughout the session. People might not finish their turn and call out to move in to the slower line thus changing the order. Wait for the call or quick glance to see who’s remaining.

3.  ‘Don’t zone out’ 

Relating to point 2, zoning out can be dangerous and break the groups efforts. So focused on breathing, what’s in front, keeping up or simply not getting dropped.  It’s very easy to zone out, over concentrate or over focus on ability forgetting about what’s happening around you. At the turnaround point we regrouped and began picking up the pace – I was done at this point, body saying ‘PLEASE NO MORE’ with my mind saying ‘Don’t humiliate your self by being dropped’. There was a van parked at the side of the group and my concentration wandered, the group moved out  towards the right, the wheel in front brushing mine, I look up to swiftly react narrowly avoiding the van. A close call indeed.

4.  If you’re pretty much at the end of your ability, drop out – swallow your pride.

There’s no shame in getting dropped, it’s part of the experience with a Chain Gang so don’t push your self to the point where you put others in danger. It’s much safer to stop and use it as a point to beat next time, than pushing beyond and ending up blacking out!