I have a road/touring bike that I take on longer rides with other folks. Sometimes other folks are riders of similar ability, and sometimes not. When I ride with people who ride slower, rather than changing my touring configuration (more upright bike, getting rid of clipless shoes/pedals) I'd like to just add some resistance to slow myself down/make myself work harder on the bike: this would make me go same speed as other folks while training harder than I would otherwise. I can imagine attaching an old-style bottle generator, but are there other good ways of adding drag/resistance to an existing bike setup?
- Focussing on the "training harder" aspect of your question:
A simple way for training hard while keeping your speed comparatively low would be to increase your cadence.
The easiest approach: Try switching a gear or two lower than you normally feel comfortable with, meaning you will have to pedal faster to keep the same speed.
One of the advantages of high cadence cycling is less force on your legs, and therefore accumulated fatigue, leading to a faster recovery after a long ride.
There is actually a nice GCN YouTube video on this topic: GCN: Improve Your High Cadence Cycling.
- Focussing on the "playing nice" aspect of your question:
You could offer to carry a bigger share of supplies and equipment. Collect those spare tubes, an emergency pump, patches, and maybe an extra water bottle, and the additional weight will make it certainly more challenging for you (and easier for your companions), especially if your tour includes some nice climbs.
If you want to play nice, this ride is going to be quite gentle and sociable for you. That means it could be a good fit for a recovery ride. Read up on recovery riding, but you should find it’s recommended to have a nice steady ride where you keep your heart rate down low (like zone 2), and if you get it too elevated, even by a little bit you spoil the whole purpose of the recovery ride.
Naturally you’ll need something to recover from, so the day before you can treat yourself to a jolly good spanking and thrash your legs about a bit. Then when you ride slowly with the group you’ll be actively promoting recovery and end up even stronger! Don’t forget to stop for a nice slice of cake.
If possible, position yourself at the back of the group. You can even lead from there with a small group.
Staying at the back allows you to encourage those who are struggling or taking it easy, and means you're not always glancing over your shoulder to check whether you've left them behind. As a result going slowly feels much more natural than it does at the front. You can also keep an eye on the group and make sure everyone is OK, and you've got the speed to catch up if the group gets split. When I ride with the slower of my two clubs I often find myself back marking (with the faster club I'm often barely hanging on to the back).
If you're used to wearing a thin layer of lycra, wear a little more (as you'll be working less hard, but make it more casual - extra wind resistance plus it might fit in better with the rest of the group.
Riding to/from the group ride can be a chance to really go for it.
The best way to slow your ride down without ruining how your bike rides is to focus on rolling resistance. The heaviest duty tyres like a Schwalbe Marathon Plus will take a lot more effort to push at the same speed when compared to faster road tyres. Get the widest ones that you can fit on your bike to make the biggest difference. There are also heavy duty thornproof tubes which will have a similar effect. I've seen one from Tioga which is 600% thicker than a regular butyl tube and also has sealant inside it as well, which will also add a little more resistance and weight.
Depending on what you wear while riding, you might also be able to add significant aerodynamic drag simply by wearing baggier clothing. The efficiency losses here will be much smaller, but have the advantage of being non-linear (2×faster is 4×more aero drag). When you are going fastest is likely to be when your bike gives you the greatest advantage, so maximising aero drag where possible will help to minimise this.
When I'm riding with slower riders (who shall remain nameless) I force myself to ride in a gear that matches their pace. Staying in first or second gear is stressful but it keeps people happy. It is also a good light rep workout.
There are ways of adding resistance to your bike but I don't think they can be called "good".
It's interesting that Google does not have many suggestions for increasing drag on a bicycle.
Ways to add resistance (just brainstorming here, a grain of salt might be needed):
- Tie a rope to a rock and drag it behind your bike. Probably tear up the road/trail and cause a hazard.
- Reduce tire pressure. Probably won't provide enough drag.
- Make a sail or parachute for your bike. Parachute might work.
- Have the slowest rider hold on to your bike and pull them. Could be dangerous.
- A single bottle generator will slow down the bike, but probably not enough. How many generators do you think you could get on your bike? Two on the fork, and maybe two more on the back? Four might be enough to slow you down.
- Wear baggy clothes and sit as upright as possible.
- Adjust your brakes so they always rub. I don't like this one. Can't stand to have my brakes rubbing.
- Maybe leave the bike at home and run instead. This answer does meet question requirements. Just thinking outside the bike.
- Buy a resistance trainer, remove the resistance device, and attach the resistance device to your bike. It would be like being on a trainer while riding the bike! (linked as an example, not a recommendation)
I was going to say "pulling a heavy trailer" but once you get it rolling it does not offer much drag. You need something continuous.
That's it, I'm brainstormed out. Hope this sparks some ideas from others!
I'm surprised no-one has mentioned wearing weights on your ankles. Even a small weight per leg would noticeably increase the overall workload, and intervening near the force would be more efficient compared to increasing rolling resistance, bike & rider weight, or god forbid dragging something behind you as one person suggested. Since the added weight will increase the difficulty right at the moment arm, this could make a large difference to effort.
Balance can be an issue: consider trying on a stationary bike first. https://livehealthy.chron.com/cycle-ankle-weights-1393.html
The obvious: Position yourself at the very front of the group, and benefit from the wind resistance.
In addition, one could wear baggy clothes, but for aestetic reasons, a fluttering long sleeved windbreaker will do.
Also the obvious addition: Having said bye bye and see you next time, go for a round on your own, your pace. No one really needs to know.
I don't do much road cycling myself, so this might not be the best advice. However, if you lower your saddle hight a couple of inches you will notice it harder to pedal and that should slow you down some. Not enough? Lower saddle a bit more. Just a thought! It's a cheap fix anyway! Best of luck.
You could get yourself a power meter.
When you ride at very low intensity it’s hard to judge how hard it is for others. This is especially the case in situations where speed is a bad indicator, for example on a windy day or a hilly ride. With a power meter you can try to maintain a certain power output. This way you can also help your fellow riders by slowing them down at the start of the ride. The result will be a more consistent speed and longer, happier rides for your fellows, since they won’t be exhausted halfway into the ride from starting too fast.
Of course a power meter is also great for your normal training.
Generally, riding slowly requires a certain mindset. Be relaxed, choose easy gears, don’t put pressure on the pedals. Just pedal along.
a) Use a dedicated water bottle filled with heavy material. I have used thick, bulky metal chains in a standard ~750ml bottle, it weighs around 2kg. If filled up more efficiently, you could achieve up to 3-4kg. In case of an emergency, you can throw away the bottle to lose weight. I do not recommend using substances that could contaminate the bottle (e.g. aluminium, iron, lead, dirt).
b) Fill the inner tubes with water. You'll increase:
- Rolling resistance
- Rolling inertia
- Chances of catastrophic tire failure
- Chances of losing control
That said, I have experimented for over a month with water in the tube of a hooked 25mm front tire of a road bicycle. The water takes the velocity from the inner tube fairly quickly over around 10kph. In other words, at usual speeds of 15kph and above, rotational velocity of water seems to be equal to that of the inner tube. While the bicycle was around 0.5-1kg heavier, I did not notice any explicitly different behaviour. Ride comfort is non-existent on 25mm tires anyway, so I cannot comment on that either.
What I recommend to do if you have decided to fill the tires with water (at your own risk):
- Do not fill 100% of the tire with water. First, it is difficult and could damage your pump. Second, having more air should provide more cushion and should stress the tire less.
- Fill the rear tire. Front tire failure is more likely to end up badly. Rear tire failure can be controlled fairly easily when riding in a straight line. This will also set your centre of gravity to the rear, which should help a minuscule amount when braking.
- Carry a spare inner tube, because patching up a wet inner tube could be impossible.