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Old 06-26-10, 11:02 PM   #1
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Beginning to get the hang of pace lines - what a great feeling

On a group ride this afternoon, I was riding second in line for an extended stretch. Rather than looking down at the lead-riders rear-wheel, as I have in the past, I was gauging my position from the angle of my view of the lead-riders helmet. After a while I did look down and realized that I had been positioning myself with about 6 inches space between our wheels. What a great feeling! Later I was leading for quite a few miles and when I stole glances behind me, the second rider was always inches behind. (I need a helmet mirror!) We were doing 18-21 MPH- not particularly fast, even for me, but it was the connectedness that felt so great.

I"m getting to the point where I'm less excited about doing solo rides. Up until a few months ago, I only rode solo. But there's nothing like a group ride with a critical mass of well-matched riders.
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Old 06-27-10, 12:52 AM   #2
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I don't do group rides but occasionally ride with a couple of others. I learnt many years ago that there is a performance gain by slipstreaming other riders. But you have to keep close enough to the rider in front to get that gain.

This requires several things but the main ones being competence and confidence. Competence on the part of all of the riders to ride safely and confidence on your part to stay that close to another rider. I have several people I ride with that I feel safe with and that I know will not be putting me in trouble. But there are also riders that will never be good paceline riders.

So we can expect to see Average speeds going up from now on and distance getting higher????

Well done on getting over the "Confidence" hurdle. You obviously have the competence bit sussed out.
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Old 06-27-10, 02:06 AM   #3
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I learnt many years ago that there is a performance gain by slipstreaming other riders. But you have to keep close enough to the rider in front to get that gain.
Sure. But going faster is only part of it. It's the effect of the ensemble that is really thrilling.

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So we can expect to see Average speeds going up from now on and distance getting higher????

.
Yeah, they already are. Partly it's the pacelines, but it's a lot of other things to - my gains in conditioning, upgrades in equipment, including SPD pedals instead of toeclips, etc.
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Old 06-27-10, 06:08 AM   #4
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If only drivers on the interstate highways could figure out how to move as a group. But that's way OT.

It's good you've found a compatible group to ride with. Enjoy and keep at it!
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Old 06-27-10, 06:55 AM   #5
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I know what you mean. I've reached a point where I don't like to ride solo. Instead I search for group rides on the nights and weekend days that I want to ride.
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Old 06-27-10, 07:01 AM   #6
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We were doing 18-21 MPH- not particularly fast, even for me, but it was the connectedness that felt so great.

I"m getting to the point where I'm less excited about doing solo rides. Up until a few months ago, I only rode solo. But there's nothing like a group ride with a critical mass of well-matched riders.
Of course, the most sublime sensation of all is to take your pull and go so absurdly fast that the others simply cannot keep up with you. You look in your helmet mirror and see only looks of anguish in their faces...well, it doesn't get any better than that.
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Old 06-27-10, 08:36 AM   #7
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Next step of paceline evolution is to have enough riders who can orchestrate a smooth double paceline. A well coordinated double paceline is even better because the rider out front is only out front for a very short period. Thus the group can move even faster with less overall effort.

The key is for the rider who is dropping from the lane coming to the front over to the slow lane to actually slow a bit-and for the riders coming to the front not to accelerate too quickly when they get to the front. Just keep the speeds as steady as possible.
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Old 06-27-10, 09:35 AM   #8
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Pacelines are great for speed and distance but if you want to become stronger riding solo has the edge. You gotta get out and push wind.
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Old 06-27-10, 10:03 AM   #9
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Of course, the most sublime sensation of all is to take your pull and go so absurdly fast that the others simply cannot keep up with you. You look in your helmet mirror and see only looks of anguish in their faces...well, it doesn't get any better than that.
Followed soon by the bewildering sensation that nobody ever invites you to join in a paceline anymore.
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Old 06-27-10, 10:19 AM   #10
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Followed soon by the bewildering sensation that nobody ever invites you to join in a paceline anymore.
That's never happened to me.
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Old 06-27-10, 10:22 AM   #11
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Of course, the most sublime sensation of all is to take your pull and go so absurdly fast that the others simply cannot keep up with you. You look in your helmet mirror and see only looks of anguish in their faces...well, it doesn't get any better than that.
Better yet if the others are half your age...
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Old 06-27-10, 06:30 PM   #12
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After a while I did look down and realized that I had been positioning myself with about 6 inches space between our wheels.
Let's see - at 20mph means you are traveling 30'/sec, at 6" you have a 1/60 sec of reaction time. Remind me not to let you behind me in a pace line.

When I am going that fast in a pace line and I am that close I am not on the rear wheel but off center line with a clear bailout strategy always in consideration. It takes a lot of bike handing skills to be safe at that speed and be that close. All it takes is for the guy behind to be looking to the side for a split sec, the guy in front to make one wobble and then 20 riders are arse of teacup with a couple of broken collarbones to show for it.
IMHO for the recreational rider the risk is too great.

I use about a 1 wheel diameter distance as a guide and even then I am slightly off the wheel in from of me always considering an exit strategy. When I have someone behind me - if they are following too close (which I rarely encounter) I will hand signal I am pulling out and drift further back to get that idiot off my wheel.

I am sure the "racers" will argue with me on this point. So far the only races I consider are uphill climbs and would consider a TT. I have seen too many crashes, even in club rides where people have locked wheels.

Now I don't mean to be judgemental and will agree with you that pace line riding is great - as a group your speeds are much faster, it makes a long ride go by quicker with the mental concentration of keeping the line together. When you are taking your pull it is as much your responsibility to not use your "freshness" to pull away from the group, rather you should be well aware of the "pace" and keep it at that level until your turn is up otherwise the line will begin to fall apart. The key is you are working as a team and not out to bury other riders, as a team you will fair much better than as individuals.
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Old 06-28-10, 01:58 AM   #13
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Let's see - at 20mph means you are traveling 30'/sec, at 6" you have a 1/60 sec of reaction time. Remind me not to let you behind me in a pace line.
Well, it's only 1/60 of a second if the lead rider goes from 20 mph to 0 mph instantaneously, which is probably impossible, but not to quibble, I get your drift. I generally do try to stay a little off center and a little further back. But I see LOTS of lines where people are grouped very close and where riders are definitely putting their safety in others' hands. I can't say whether this is wise or not, but it happens a lot.

Something I didn't mention in the original post is that the lead rider was a relatively short woman. This is why I was able to gauge my position so well by monitoring the angle of my view of her helmet so easily, as I could look over her helmet to the road in front. What I was doing wouldn't have worked so well if the lead rider's head was at the same height as mine. And it meant that I could see most of what she could see on the road surface. Also, I was concentrating hard on maintaining that angle, so there's no way I was going to look to the side. On the other hand, if she had had a sudden mechanical problem or if she had done something really unexpected, we would have been toast, it's true.
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Old 06-28-10, 06:20 AM   #14
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I stopped riding pace lines when I became less interested in speed and more interested in distance. I also suspect that being in two pace lines where everyone but the first two riders went down hard contributed to my willingness to give 'em up. I just don't heal as quickly as I used to. I will say, however, that there is an exhilaration that comes with a well functioning pace line.
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Old 06-28-10, 07:49 AM   #15
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Old 06-28-10, 11:28 PM   #16
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I still get awfully nervous in pacelines as I'm not too experienced with them yet. The only time I ever really join in one is on really long rides and then it's usually behind a tandem. THAT's a blast! But, I always ask if it's OK to tail them and I always stay a bit off to the side of the leaders wheel so I have a bail out exit.

One thing I hate is to be riding along at a fast pace and suddenly realize that some bozo is right on my rear wheel. I have no idea they are there and for how long, no idea of their riding ability, etc. If you are going to draft someone, please let them know. Broken bones really hurt.
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Old 06-29-10, 06:43 AM   #17
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MinnMan you are making great progress, keep it up. Six inches behind the wheel in front of you is pretty close. I'm more comfortable about a 1/2 wheel back, then, if I drift up I have a cushion. I usually try to look ahead if possible or at least at the hips of the rider in front, never the wheel. The beauty of the pace line is in part as you state "the effect of the ensemble that is really thrilling". It's a group of riders who are working together to attain a faster pace, hide from the wind, share a group experience and other good things. It only takes one bad rider to mess it all up. I occasionally ride with a local club that has one or two "bad riders". Both are very fit and can outride most everyone in the group but some of their habits makes riding near them uncomfortable if not aggravating . They will "up" the pace once they are on the front, because they can, which blows up some of the riders. One will get out of the saddle in a way that his bike is "thrown back" into the rider behind him. Worst of all is after a stop or pause at an intersection, they will accelerate away from the group forcing the riders in the rear to have to sprint to get back into the group. Don't do any of those things and you'll be fine. It would also be important to access the skills and traits of the riders around you.

I have found the easiest way to work in a pace line group is to use cadence and HR as my indicator of how long I should pull. As I near the front I look at my cadence. Once I'm at the front I keep the cadence the same as when I was riding within the line then begin to watch my HR. As soon as the HR begins to go up, I'm out and rolling back. As I roll back the HR will still climb as it lags the effort. The goal is to get back in the fold and recover before the next pull.
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Old 06-29-10, 07:14 AM   #18
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Of course, the most sublime sensation of all is to take your pull and go so absurdly fast that the others simply cannot keep up with you. You look in your helmet mirror and see only looks of anguish in their faces...well, it doesn't get any better than that.
That's called a 'breakaway.' When riding in a paceline, riding off the front is exactly what you shouldn't do. Unless you're planning on dumping them and leaving them for roadkill. One of the basic rules of pacelining is "constant pace." forcing the group to speed up and slow down yo-yos the rear too much, and can cause pile-ups of the bloody kind.
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Old 06-29-10, 09:18 AM   #19
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That's called a 'breakaway.' When riding in a paceline, riding off the front is exactly what you shouldn't do. Unless you're planning on dumping them and leaving them for roadkill. One of the basic rules of pacelining is "constant pace." forcing the group to speed up and slow down yo-yos the rear too much, and can cause pile-ups of the bloody kind.
Weak Link was joking. He does that.
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Old 06-29-10, 07:21 PM   #20
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Weak Link was joking. He does that.
Maybe, TWL could ride the CRH off his wheel.
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Old 06-29-10, 07:35 PM   #21
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Aw, I just figured he was doping.
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Old 06-29-10, 07:40 PM   #22
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MinnMan you are making great progress, keep it up. Six inches behind the wheel in front of you is pretty close. I'm more comfortable about a 1/2 wheel back, then, if I drift up I have a cushion. I usually try to look ahead if possible or at least at the hips of the rider in front, never the wheel. The beauty of the pace line is in part as you state "the effect of the ensemble that is really thrilling". It's a group of riders who are working together to attain a faster pace, hide from the wind, share a group experience and other good things. It only takes one bad rider to mess it all up. I occasionally ride with a local club that has one or two "bad riders". Both are very fit and can outride most everyone in the group but some of their habits makes riding near them uncomfortable if not aggravating . They will "up" the pace once they are on the front, because they can, which blows up some of the riders. One will get out of the saddle in a way that his bike is "thrown back" into the rider behind him. Worst of all is after a stop or pause at an intersection, they will accelerate away from the group forcing the riders in the rear to have to sprint to get back into the group. Don't do any of those things and you'll be fine. It would also be important to access the skills and traits of the riders around you.

I have found the easiest way to work in a pace line group is to use cadence and HR as my indicator of how long I should pull. As I near the front I look at my cadence. Once I'm at the front I keep the cadence the same as when I was riding within the line then begin to watch my HR. As soon as the HR begins to go up, I'm out and rolling back. As I roll back the HR will still climb as it lags the effort. The goal is to get back in the fold and recover before the next pull.
A'Jet is right on plus...

I recently attended a six hour skills class as part of my Cat 4 upgrade. We spent a lot of time on cornering and pack skills and pace line skills with riding a pack being more difficult. There are several on which to work.

Probably the key one is reading the pack or line several moves ahead. One should NOT look at the rear wheel or the rider in front but instead look ahead for clues as to what may occur. What is the terrain like? Traffic situations, changes in the road or wind, where would you go if there is a problem. One uses peripheral vision to gage distance to the rider in front.

With respect to assessing side and rear, one uses peripheral vision. In one drill we rode past the instructor with our head looking straight ahead and as we passed him at 90 degrees, he would hold up fingers on a hand. We had to tell him how many. It was not easy but surprisingly after practice, we all got better. Looking behind is another skill. One has to learn to rotate the head while keeping the shoulders square to the direction of travel. You do this by simply turning your head and touching your chin to your shoulder. You can see clearly right or left and peripheral vision to the rear. From the drops, one can look under each arm to see to the rear or turn your head more. However, focus should be toward the front reading the road and pace line conditions while holding your line. Try to be a consistent great wheel to follow.

In a grassy field, we practiced touching wheels and learned how to not crash when it happens. Also, we did drills where two riders went off together one behind the other. The front rider would verbally cue the rear rider and slam on his brakes. The goal was to have a plan to go around the stopping rider. And there was the usual bumping drills.

Working on all these skills plus spending hours on high speed cornering technique make a huge difference in ones ability to ride safely and assertively in a paceline or pack.

Here are some pics.





These two are from a track race on Sunday where we were riding team pursuit. The speed is approximately 28 mph. The team takes half lap pulls such that with 26 second lap times one has to be able to sustain 28 mph for 13 seconds, ride up the bank and rejoin the back of the pace line. In this case, we are pretty close together. However, there are no obstructions in the way, or other matters and there are other watching out for us during the race.



Here is a pic on one of our training rides. You can see that riders are much farther apart and allow enough distance to gain some margin. Here the speed is 20 ish.

However, in both cases, one needs a great skill set and you need a plan if something goes wrong.
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Old 06-29-10, 09:36 PM   #23
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Here is a pic on one of our training rides. You can see that riders are much farther apart and allow enough distance to gain some margin. Here the speed is 20 ish.

However, in both cases, one needs a great skill set and you need a plan if something goes wrong.
That's a nice group and it looks like they're riding bar to bar (more or less) and that's good, but that's a lot of space between the bikes. The more disciplined groups I ride with keep it around 6 inches to one foot at 20 MPH. If I'm off the wheel by half a bike, I won't be lined up with the guy next to me.
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Old 06-29-10, 09:52 PM   #24
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Aw, I just figured he was doping.
He does that too.
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Old 06-29-10, 09:55 PM   #25
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That's a nice group and it looks like they're riding bar to bar (more or less) and that's good, but that's a lot of space between the bikes. The more disciplined groups I ride with keep it around 6 inches to one foot at 20 MPH. If I'm off the wheel by half a bike, I won't be lined up with the guy next to me.
This was our warm up. When we did team time trial workouts or smaller rotating pace lines at higher speed, the gaps close due to the increased speed because riders are looking for relief. Also, once the pace picked up, the group was split by our coach into race categories so the faster riders workout together.
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