DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION BELOW IS USEFUL AS A SUGGESTION, BUT EVERY PERSON IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR OWN SAFETY AND MUST USE THEIR OWN JUDGMENT.
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A paceline is more than simply a group riding single-file. A paceline is a group riding cooperatively as a team, sharing the work of being in front of the line and the benefit of the draft while following in line. The person leading a paceline is working somewhere between 15%-30% harder than those following. In order to share this workload and keep all riders fresh for long periods, the riders constantly rotate, so that each rider spends short periods in front, thus sharing the workload.
Riding in a smooth paceline can be one of the most exhilarating things to do on a bike, but everyone must work together as a team to keep the paceline smooth.
In a paceline everyone spends time both Leading and Following in Line. The 2 roles have their own responsibilities, which must be accepted by everyone in the paceline.
1. The person in front is responsible for maintaining the steady pace.
2. The person in front is the eyes of the group. They are the only one with clear view of the road, thus it’s the Leader’s responsibility to
3. The person in front should pull off BEFORE they start tiring and slowing down.
4. When pulling off the front:
KEY POINT FOR LEADER: Remember that the role of the Leader is to keep the paceline steady and together. NEVER try to prove how strong you are by accelerating.
1. NEVER overlap your wheel with the rider in front of you. If you tap wheels, it will usually be you that goes down, possibly bringing down everyone behind you. By staying behind their wheel, you don’t have to worry about them suddenly swerving into you.
2. Ride in a straight line and don’t weave in and out of the line
3. Ride at a steady pace and pedal constantly.
4. Stay 6 inches to 3-feet behind the rider in front of you (the faster the pace the closer you need to be). If you drift further back, you lose the effect of the draft, and risk getting dropped from the Leaders (thus dropping those behind you also).
5. Keep a constant distance between you and the rider in front of you. Avoid any sudden accelerations or braking to adjust the gap.
6. If you need to moderate your pace to avoid overlapping the rider ahead:
7. Keep your head up and eyes scanning up the road. DO NOT stare at the wheel in front of you. You will react quicker if you see a rider several people ahead of you avoiding a hazard than if you just see the person directly in front of you react to a hazard.
8. If an obstacle appears don’t panic and jam on your brakes; the rider behind you will likely run into you. Regardless of the hazard, you are usually safer riding through it than braking suddenly.
9. Don’t get restless if the pace seems too slow. Often while following it may seem like you should be going much faster, but this is because you are getting the benefit of the draft. The Leaders may be working very hard. Stay in line and accept the pace of the group.
10. If you are the #2 rider in line, do not follow the Leader when they move to the left, unless they are clearly doing so to avoid rough road or some other hazard ahead. The Leader moving to the left should be an indication that they are pulling off (the Leader should also signal pulling off by wiggling their right elbow). If unsure of their intentions, make sure they are aware of you as you pass them on the right.
11. If you are the last rider call out “last” when the next person drifting back approaches you, to let them know that they should pull in behind you.
KEY POINT FOR THOSE FOLLOWING IN LINE: Remember you are part of a team working together and that one person either allowing a gap too large or trying to pull around people ruins the paceline. Accept the pace that the group is setting and work to maintain it. A single rider not cooperating can ruin a paceline.
1. When you go from a sitting to standing position, often you will slow significantly, which can be dangerous in a paceline.
2. Communicate: whether simply calling out obstacles or letting a rider know that they did something unexpected or dangerous, communicating solves many problems of group riding.
3. A paceline is a TEAM working together with a common goal. If you are not going to participate and work with the paceline, please stay out of the paceline. Do not ride beside it or pull in front of it.
4. SAFETY FIRST
If you want to be a rider others enjoy sharing pacelines with, here are a few things you shouldn’t do: