When riding a multi-day tour such as the Ireland End-to-End, it's a good idea to find ways to conserve energy. One very efficient technique is to learn how to draft or slipstream behind the person in front of you. Don't forget to take your turn at the front otherwise you'll be buying your own pint of Guinness all week.
It's a simple enough technique, but one that requires a bit of confidence and practise to do it safely. The benefits can be 30% to 40% saving on energy levels. The general idea is that if you stay in close behind the rider in front you will get pulled along in their slipstream and sheltered from headwinds. If you aren't confident with this, why not grab a partner and go out and practise before starting your Ireland End-to-End tour with Wild Atlantic Cycling? Here's how ...
Cycle behind your partner at a distance of roughly half a wheel length. You don't need to constantly watch the wheel, better to lift your head and look around. This makes the ride more enjoyable and allows you to spot dangers and obstacles. Try to develop what they call the "cyclist's sixth sense" when it comes to accurately sensing how close you are to the wheel in front without necessarily having to look and check too often. Of course when on the front you need to point out holes and dangers as normal. Practise your drafting when on reasonably flat terrain. Descents or wet weather conditions require a different approach.
Wind direction will determine the best position for drafting. Sit directly behind the person if the wind is straight head on. However, if the wind is coming more from the left or the right, then move to the right or left to get most shelter and maximise the energy savings.
When on the front - it is important not to brake suddenly, but rather "feather" the brakes to gradually and steadily slow your speed down. This ensures the rider behind you gets no nasty surprises! It is also important to move from sitting to standing without causing your bike to loose momentum. Stand up gradually whilst maintaining pedal stroke so that the person behind you doesn't get any surprises.
When cycling on wet roads or downhill - stopping distances will be longer, so drop back a couple of bike lengths to cater for this. whether on the hoods or the drops, keep your fingers on your brakes in preparation for slowing and controlling your speed by feathering the brakes.