The benefit of cycling in a paceline is to allow faster speeds and permit riders to rest while drafting in the slipstream of others. The primary objective when riding in a group or paceline is to be smooth and safe. Always stay cool, calm, relaxed and observant. Be predictable. Pedal smoothly. Ride in a straight line.
Obey the rules of the road! Obey all traffic laws.
Ride no more than two (2) abreast. Keep a single paceline in traffic.
Do not obstruct traffic. If necessary, pull off the road to allow following vehicles to pass.
Stay as far to the right hand side of the road as safely possible. DO NOT ride along the center line of the road!
Move completely out of the road when stopped or waiting.
DO NOT ride down in aerobars while in a group or paceline. IT IS NOT SAFE FOR YOU and IT IS NOT SAFE FOR OTHERS!!
Use hand signals to indicate all turns, stopping, slowing, and road hazards.
Use verbal warnings. This includes warnings for turns, stopping and slowing.
“Car up” to warn of approaching vehicles.
“Car back” or “Coming around” to warn of passing vehicles.
“On your left” when overtaking and passing (always pass on the left!) other cyclists.
Point out and loudly announce hazards in and along the road. This includes potholes, bumps, dead animals (road kill), gravel, sand, dogs, runners, pedestrians, cars, or anything hazardous to a cyclist.
Group Cycling Basics
NO SUDDEN MOVEMENTS!! Riders need to ride straight, steadily, and smoothly. Your riding affects all the other riders in the paceline, so be consistent, safe and predictable. Always be aware of what is happening around you.
If you accidentally brush shoulders, hands, or handlebars with another rider, do not panic. Stay relaxed, lean slightly in, regain balance, and pull away. Allow your upper body to absorb any bumps.
If you have a mishap such as a flat tire, dropped water bottle, or mechanical breakdown, remain calm and DO NOT slam on the brakes. Slowly, smoothly and calmly ease out of the paceline. Once you are clear, slow down before stopping off the side of the road. If you are at the back of the group, announce to the other riders that you have had a mishap and are stopping.
ALWAYS be considerate to other cyclists and motorists!!
Do not litter. Put all wrappers in your pockets and dispose of all trash properly.
Drafting in a Paceline
Paceline - a string or line of riders who alternate turns riding at the front, “pulling”, and then resting by “sitting in” and drafting in the slipstream of the other riders.
Drafting – riding in the slipstream, or pocket of moving air, created by the rider(s) in front. This technique enables the following riders to maintain speed with less effort.
Ride a comfortable distance behind the wheel in front of you. Begin riding 2-3 feet away and work up to closer distances as you start to feel more comfortable. Practice helps! Experienced riders will ride within a few inches of each other’s wheels.
Do not fix your eyes on the wheel in front of you. Look beyond the rider directly in front of you to see what is up the road. Be aware of everything that is in front of you!
Do not overlap wheels with the cyclist in front of you. If your wheels do touch, the rider behind should smoothly and calmly slow down. The rider in front should maintain his line and speed.
DO NOT brake suddenly! If you roll up on the rider in front of you, soft pedal and smoothly ease over to one side. Allow the air resistance to slow you down.
Avoid gaps in the paceline. If a gap does open, smoothly and slowly accelerate to close it. DO NOT “attack” by accelerating quicklyto close a gap. This creates more gaps in the paceline behind you. If a gap opens and the following rider cannot close it because he’s “cooked” or too tired to accelerate, then smoothly and slowly accelerate around him to close the gap.
DO NOT sling or rock your bike backwards when rising from a sitting to a standing position, i.e. when climbing a hill. When most recreational riders quickly stand to accelerate, they force their bike backwards, possibly causing the rider behind them to brush wheels or react by braking. When standing, signal your intention, then put extra pressure on the pedals and stand up slowly. On the flip side, when approaching a hill, be aware of the speed of the rider in front of you and anticipate any slowing.
When riding downhill riders in a paceline may accelerate at different speeds. If you are overtaking the cyclist in front, do not slam on your brakes. Slowly and smoothly move to either side of the rider in front of you and allow the air resistance to help slow you. The faster the group is riding, the more reaction time you should allow for adjusting to other rider’s different speeds.
Riders in a paceline generally agree on how long the lead rider will pull, or remain in the lead position. It may be measured in time, distance, or until someone becomes tired. For example, the lead rider may pull for a mile before “pulling off” and “catching back” on the rear of the paceline.
Passing and Pulling
Generally, the lead rider in a paceline will signal their intention to “pull off” by flicking or wagging their right elbow, and then pull off to the left after their turn at pulling is completed. There are some exceptions to this rule, but pulling off on the right should be avoided and limited only to experienced riders in echelons during windy conditions.
IF you are in the paceline’s second position, DO NOTaccelerate when taking the lead! As the lead rider pulls off to the left side and smoothly decreases speed, the second rider should maintain the speed of the group. If the paceline’s speed is to be increased, do so slowly and smoothly after the lead rider catches on at the rear. Allow the lead rider to “catch on” at the back and benefit from the draft. Remember, he just did a pull and is probably a little tired. If you surge, the lead rider pulling off may be “dropped” because they are too tired to accelerate and “catch on” at the rear of the paceline.
When pulling at the front, maintain the speed of the group. Do not stay on the front so long that you become tired and slow down, decreasing the speed of the line. Keep the pace steady!
DO NOT over-exert yourself at the front when pulling! Stronger riders should pull longer; weaker or tired riders should take shorter pulls. If you are too tired to pull, do not be embarrassed to simply pull through immediately and drop to the back of the line for a rest.
When pulling, DO NOT pour on the full power until you are exhausted or “blow up”! Save enough energy to catch on at the rear of the paceline and recover.
When the lead rider pulls off, he should slowly move to the back of the group while pedaling and maintaining some speed. If that tired rider stops pedaling, he may slow too much and not be able to catch on. Stay close to the group as you drift back as this will help shield the other riders from any crosswind. When you are beside the last rider in the line, smoothly pick up your speed and move over behind his wheel. Be careful not to slow down too much, otherwise you will have to accelerate hard to catch on to the paceline, or miss the group all together.
As you move forward in the line, DO NOT pull out from the 2nd or 3rd position. You will open a gap for the riders behind you, and force them to accelerate to close the gap. If you find yourself at the front and are too tired to take a pull, simply pull out. This will not take any more energy and will prevent opening gaps for the riders behind you.
When riding downhill, lead rider should NEVER stop pedaling. Coasting or “soft pedaling” will force the riders behind to brake and cause “seesaw” gaps in the line.
·On an uphill grade, the lead rider should maintain the same effort, not the same speed.
If the group is traveling too fast, sit on the back. If you need to stay in the back when the front rider pulls off and moves to the back of the group, move to the left out of the line so you are on his wheel and allow him to catch on behind the rider in front of you. An advance verbal warning such as “catch on” giving that rider plenty of time to react to your move is helpful. Only do this when you are at the back of the group, as riders behind you may want to pull through and the lead rider catching on at the back probably wants as much rest as possible.
DO NOT sit on the back the entire time only to “attack” or accelerate at the next big hill or win the sprint at the end of the ride. In other words, if you are not pulling through to do your share of the work, you should have a good reason, i.e. you are sick or in pain! If you don’t do your fair share of the pulling, your fellow riders will regard this as “poor form” and will remember it for a long time!