Sergeant Pepper’s Draft Line

Beeeautiful weather today. Now that I’m actually typing this entry a week after the post date of the 9th I can say this may end up being the best day of this summer (of course it will have to compete with autumn, my favorite time of the year, but that’s another story).

Started out the day with the feeling that I pulled something just above my quad on my left leg. It eventually warmed up and was fine.

Plenty of fast groups today. As a matter of fact I’d go so far as to say it’s a “day of packs”. I drifted from one to another and really only let one group of three riders get away from me, all of whom I pulled back in, though it took almost four laps and 18k to do so.

I remember seeing enormous groups last year that resembled the Tour De France Peleton and wondering if they were some formal group of riders like a club or team. Today I discovered that they are an informal “every Wednesday evening” thing. No craigslist postings. No bike club. If you’re here and it’s happening you’ve got an open invite. One guy has taken it upon himself to be the drill sergeant of a peleton for anyone who wants to be a part. It collects riders from every walk of life including couples with hybrids, track bikes, mountain bike riders, road racers — you name it.

The only rule: you have to follow the sergeant’s rules, which can seem like they change on a whim, but if they do, it’s only to protect the beauty and integrity of his line:

  • The pack is to be two riders wide.
  • Riders must stay an equal distance from their partner and the riders in front of and behind them
  • When the sergeant says “off the front” the two riders in the front are to peel off the front to the left and right to allow the group to proceed from behind them
  • Keep it neat, people!
  • Nobody is to get all crazy.
  • Nobody is to mess with the sergeant’s draft line/

The sergeant is one of those kinds of people that lives for the perfect lines. He spends the entire time riding up and down the line barking out commands.

“Get up in there, get up in there! Don’t let them get away from you like that!”
“If you’re going to take off do it now — once you’re gone you can’t come back!”
“Stay together!”
“Hey Rocky, either you’re in the line or you’re not!”
To a pedestrian: “Oh don’t hurry or anything, it’s only 40 bikes!”
To another fixed gear rider: “Heeeey, don’t mess with our pack – go on, go ride somewhere else!”
To another rider in the pack: “I sleep here, why you think I’m like this? (turns his head towards the front of the line) “HEY! Pull up that space!”

All in all the group did strikingly well, especially considering how many people were novices at this kind of thing. From the sky (or the road, obviously) we were a sight to behold, 40+ strangers, many of whom who have just met, riding in perfect unison, snaking through traffic in Prospect Park after work on any given Wednesday.

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Aaron Deutsch

About Aaron Deutsch

Aaron has always felt a passion for, if not a gravitational pull from, racing. Since being lured from the basketball court onto the track in 1993 he set 7 track & field records and medaled six times at the state level of competition.

He moved to the mountain bike in the late 1990s and won the Penn Cycle Buck Hill race series in 2000 in the sport class. He also placed 4th in the Subaru Cup XC race that year.

After moving to New York Aaron took up road racing and rode unattached for the first year and medaled in 2 races including a 1st place finish in the Kissena Race Series in 2007. In 2008 the Brooklyn Arches Cycling Club was formed and the results were immediate and consistent including winning the Cadence Cup Race Series in Brooklyn. He currently races with the Major Taylor Iron Riders Development Team

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