Pacelines are a great way to ride efficiently within a group of cyclists.
Unfortunately, many cyclists do not know or understand the [unwritten] rules of riding in a paceline – speed, where to ride, signaling and distance to name a few. For most cyclists, a group ride is a fairly informal event – show up to a shop ride on Saturday/Sunday, gear up and go.
Understanding the purpose of the paceline is as important as understanding the rules of a paceline. Efficiency is the primary purpose of a paceline. Here are some guidelines to making a paceline successful:
Speed — Maintain the “pack” speed when moving to the front! Many will try to man-up or show-off by accelerating when he/she moves to the front. The lead rider should pull off to the side and smoothly decrease speed. The second rider should maintain the speed of the group. If the speed is to be increased, do so slowly and smoothly. Allow the rider to regroup at the back and benefit from the draft. It’s important to remember, the cyclist coming off the lead, just did a pull and is probably a little tired. If you surge, the rider pulling off or even the group may be gapped or even dropped!
Communicate — Always communicate effectively throughout the paceline. Identifying debris in the road or oncoming cars is critical to a successful paceline.
No sudden movements — riders need to ride straight, steadily, and smoothly. Your riding affects all other riders in the group, so be consistent, safe and predictable. Always be aware of what is happening around you.
Limitations — know your physical limitations. Do not over exert yourself at the front. Stronger riders should pull longer, weaker riders should pull shorter. Do not be embarrassed to simply pull through immediately.
There are a few different types of pacelines you might encounter on a group ride, let’s talk about the common three:
Just as it sounds; the group forms a single line of cyclists. Typically, the rotation is into the direction of the pressing wind; if the wind is pushing from the East, the lead rider will pull off to the left side. However, please use discretion as to the rotation direction; be aware of traffic and the space around the paceline.
A single file line is formed when conditions don’t allow double pace line riding such as:
Key Characteristics of this formation is that riders line up in pairs.
ALWAYS be considerate to other cyclists and motorists! Your actions reflect the club, your sponsors and the cycling community as a whole!