Riding the Paceline - Summary

Paceline Goals & Characteristics
  • The group goal is uniform intensity, without abrupt speed variations in the paceline.
  • The paceline is about relatively constant energy output. Vary the speed with the terrain - slower uphill, faster downhill.
  • Think about your effect on the group. Riding the paceline is a learned skill.
  • Maintain a constant distance between you and the rider in front of you.
  • Make all your speed changes and moves smoothly so that you are easy to follow.
  • The paceline achieves higher speeds due to group efficiency through teamwork.
Guidelines
  • Be predictable.
  • A tight paceline is efficient. Stay within 2-5 feet of the wheel in front of you. Shrink this distance with trust and experience.
  • Short pulls. Pull to the top of the first hill.
  • Give visual and/or verbal signals when you turn over the lead.
  • Give visual and/or verbal signals regarding road hazards.
  • Leader - pull on descent. If you don't, then the riders behind will be using their brakes.
  • If you are tired when you come to the front, do not pull. Rotate to the back of the paceline.
  • Save your energy - stay with the group and don't get dropped.
  • Do not accelerate around corners; do not attack on hills.
  • Don't accelerate hard from intersections until everyone in the group is through the intersection.
  • Yield for traffic. If you are bringing the group through an intersection, you need more time/space than for just yourself. If the group splits, slow and/or wait until everyone is back in the group and then accelerate slowly and evenly.

    Doing it Wrong & How to Tell
    Symptoms
    • Gaps of a couple of bike lengths or more in the group.
    • An accordion-effect in the paceline.
    Causes - General
    • A rider is thinking only of himself, not the group.
    • A rider is doing something "because he can", not thinking about the effect on the group.
    Causes - Specific
    • Random speed changes - someone is not paying attention.
    • Ungraceful lead change. The leader stalls before turning over the lead or the new leader accelerates quickly.
    • The front rider makes abrupt changes in the pace.
    • Early leaders pull the group out too fast. Going out too fast is a common mistake made by rookies and veterans alike.
    • Faster riders are pulling the group faster than the agreed-upon pace. A sub-group may form off the front.
    • Riders in the back don't hold to the wheel in front. Every rider must try to hold to the wheel in front. A sub-group may form off the back later in the ride.
    Dangers
    • Do NOT make sudden moves. You are riding in tight formation and may cause a crash.
    • Gracefully break formation for significant hazards.
    • Do NOT ride on aerobars in the paceline, unless you are in the lead.
    • Do NOT let your bike kick backward when you stand. Do a couple of progressively harder strokes right before you get out of the saddle, then an even harder stroke as you stand. This requires concentration.
  • Disclaimer
    Cycling on public roads involves risk of property damage, bodily injury, and death. The authors and publishers of this document provide suggestions to improve the safety of cycling on public roads and assume no responsibility for how an individual may interpret or apply this information.

    This Document
    The original authors of this document have dedicated the work to the public domain. Anyone is free to copy, modify, publish, use, sell, or distribute the original document, either in printed or electronic form, for any purpose, commercial or non-commercial, and by any means. If you change the document, please attach a general note so that the new document is not attributed to the original authors or the Tarwheels.

    The document is a Work in Progress and is not comprehensive.

    Updated 4/12/08

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