From the start, we had a big, feisty group with many on Discord. That made it easy to communicate the plan of the day, and I will say that the Discord users had a leg up on the other participants. The game really has one rule: stay behind the leader. That leader was me for the first lap and change.

Crack the Whip goes like this: the leader makes an attack of up to one minute as hard as he/she desires. Then the leader sits up to let the group catch on. The group has to respond and catch the leader without passing the leader. The object of the game is to recognize and cover attacks without being put on the front yourself. The purpose of this is to not allow another rider to trick you into expending extra energy by making a short attack, knowing that you will overshoot your target which would allow him/her to sit on your wheel. If the chasers overshoot the attacker, they have to drop back through the group, stop pedaling for ten seconds, and then chase back on. The action runs for five to ten minutes for each session of Crack the Whip. Thus, if a rider continues to pay the penalty, it gets harder and harder.

For our group, it was a bloodbath from the beginning. After my first few attacks, I eased up to the 1.5 w/kg pace, trying not to be too sneaky. Half of the group still rocketed right by me, not paying attention to my output or the rapidly closing gap.

Because of the difficulty of maintaining order with the majority of the people not being on Discord, I shifted to Phase II punishment immediately. Interestingly enough, people found that sitting up and having to sprint to catch back on the group was a sufficient deterrent to at least try not to fly by me.

We conducted multiple iterations of the game, regrouping periodically to allow everyone the opportunity to be at the front. To be honest, the drawback to having a lot of participants was that many riders could not see my information on the rider list, causing a delay in their response or unknowingly shooting right by me. The beacon was a big help, but it wasn’t big enough for some.

On the last lap, we switched up the attack to multiple attackers. It added a little confusion to the mix but created a more realistic experience, as most races have multiple animators. We finished off the ride by revisiting our group skills and then a brief cool down.

The big takeaway from today’s ride was to really focus on paying attention to moves off the front. Being able to respond quickly means that you get to conserve energy by getting into the attacker’s draft earlier. Likewise, you will have a better opportunity to decide whether you want to counterattack immediately or force the attacker to do more work at the front.

Like today, the remaining SkillZ and DrillZ Rides through the end of the year will focus on racing smarter. We’ll go into a deeper discussion during the 7 December SDR. Until then, Ride On!

Watch the ride recording below: