Towing transfers energy from a strong member to a slower or tiring member by way of a stretchy cord secured between two teammates, thereby equalizing the team and allowing the group to travel faster.
Even the smallest amount of tension on a towline can motivate a lagging teammate, and has the psychological bonus of empowering the entire team as everyone is giving the race his or her best effort: teambuilding and teamwork at its finest!
What you need: You can fashion a towing kit from hardware store items, such as surgical tubing, shock or bungee cord, PVC tubing (to keep the cord away from a bike’s rear tire) hose clamps and carabiners, or buy a race-ready kit online.
Tow training: Practice makes perfect! Become proficient at connecting the towline between mountain bikes, boats, or people before race day. Practice keeping equal distance and consistent cord tension between people, bikes, or boats. Each member of your team should practice towing, and being towed. Obviously a stronger member of the team may be “designated” as the one who will tow, but the inherent nature of the sport can break or injure any team member.
Tow safety: Towing while trekking or biking is most effective on steeper, non-technical uphill grades or on flat terrain. Downhill towing is dangerous, and typically should not be done. Only tow, or continue towing, if all members are comfortable that it is safe. Boat towing takes concentration, and typically should only be done in calm to moderate water. Towing in rough seas or whitewater is dangerous; however, lashing boats together in rough sea water in a pontoon like configuration using rope and trekking poles can provide safety and stability.
Communicate: Being macho doesn’t cut it. Don’t be afraid to ask for or offer help depending upon how you are feeling. Everyone needs to understand how to pace themselves and recognize when they are carrying too much of the load! While towing, check in with each other often, using commands such as “on or off-tow, too fast or too slow.” Let each other know what you are about to do before you do it.
Work together for success!