When I'm alone and plodding along the shoulder of a state highway, I like to stand up to catch a wind gust as large vehicles "fly" by me. The amount of "fun" I get from this is exponentially proportional to the size of the passing vehicle. Unfortunately, I have a few concerns regarding my mischievous behavior.

Since my average speed is about 15 MPH [1], I'm typically only in the slipstream of the said vehicles for a short period of time. Does standing up for this short period of time actually give me a substantial increase in speed?

Also, I often wear highly recognizable clothing and/or gear. There may be a few non-cyclist motorists that recognize me. I'm concerned that my act of standing up right before I'm getting passed could be perceived as "aggressive" behavior. If I continue to stand up to maximize my slipstream from passing motorists, do you think I will encourage some motorists to dislike me more than they already probably do?

[1] - My maximum speed is 40 MPH but that's downhill. Also, I can typically get up to 20 MPH on a flat way when there is a strong tailwind.

  • 1
    Not addressing your main point but most drivers won't realise what standing up means, and those that do will usually be cyclists themselves so even if they think you're doing something reckless won't want to endanger you. But if you accelerate significantly while they're alongside (as opposed to just after they've passed, they may notice it take longer to get clear - if they don't notice, that's a bad thing too as they'll pull in too soon
    – Chris H
    Mar 25, 2017 at 13:44
  • Most motorists are nice to me. On the other hand, a small subset of motorists seem to enjoy harassing bicyclists.
    – Shawn Eary
    Mar 25, 2017 at 13:50
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    That sounds about normal - there's not a lot you can do to change that
    – Chris H
    Mar 25, 2017 at 14:23
  • I seriously doubt that you are gaining much advantage from attempting to draft passing vehicles (assuming they are passing at greater than 30 mph). Generally the disruption due to the "womp" of air from a passing vehicle will cause your bike to briefly wobble, and you must therefore put more energy into controlling the bike. I don't see any real advantage in attempting to draft (for the 0.5 second that you sorta can) vs simply keeping the bike under control. As for the motorist, it's most important (after visibility is considered) to maintain a steady course and not wobble. Mar 25, 2017 at 21:19
  • So you're catching the air gust, not trying to get in the lane behind a vehicle and get sucked along inside a bubble of still air which is being hauled along behind the vehicle?
    – Criggie
    Mar 25, 2017 at 23:02

1 Answer 1


This seems perfectly fine.

Cyclists often stand up for various reasons, and there's no reason to think that it would startle drivers. They probably have no idea why you're standing up anyway. Some people may eventually realize that you stand up every time they pass you, but I doubt they'll be anything but mildly amused.

Actual drafting (riding behind a vehicle) can and does stress drivers out on top of being rather dangerous for the cyclist.

As to the speed effect, standing up will make you go faster if the air is moving faster than you are. Effectively putting this into practice has a lot of nuances though, and really should be a separate post.

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