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Old 05-29-12, 08:20 PM   #26
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I don't like those rapidly rotating 'chaingang' pacelines because I don't believe anyone gets enough rest.

When I pull during club rides, I go for about half a mile (depending on speed, how I'm feeling, or how long the ride is).

AFAIC, a (say) 8-man paceline, where each person pulld for half a mile, gives you a tough half mile and a 3-1/2 mile rest. That way the guy taking the pull is pretty fresh - and that's how the group is able to maintain a decent speed.

I once did a century with an 8-man paceline where each person pulled for a mile, while the others rested for 7 miles. Our average speed for the century was over 19.2 mph, and we were all in pretty good shape at the end.
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Old 05-29-12, 08:24 PM   #27
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What is being described with the elbow flicks and such is a less organized (less efficient) and more casual approach to share the pulling. When a group really wants to make time, it goes with a true rotating paceline.
A rotating paceline is best if everyone has roughly the same power output or your want to share the load fairly in a breakaway.

If you want the fastest speed, you want to have each rider at their limit. In team time trials where they optimize for speed, stronger riders will take longer pulls and the weakest rider does whatever he can while still holding on. If you have a Cancellara in your group you want him taking longggg pulls.
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Old 05-29-12, 08:26 PM   #28
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...the weakest rider does whatever he can while still holding on.
I expect that will be a pretty accurate description of my day, come June 9.
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Old 05-29-12, 08:31 PM   #29
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This is very interesting and timely info, as I'll be expected to participate to the extent I'm able in the team paceline at the TdC in a couple of weeks. I've done some less formal work with the training ride groups (1 minute pulls, a tap to the hip to signal pulling off), but at the track I'll be with the "A" group for a few laps before the "B" riders separate. I'm hoping the pre-ride meeting will cover all these tactical matters.
Are you going to ride the 100?
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Old 05-29-12, 08:43 PM   #30
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If you have a Cancellara in your group you want him taking all of the pulls.
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Old 05-29-12, 08:48 PM   #31
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Are you going to ride the 100?
I'll hang in as long as I can, but unless the other Bs form their own line pretty early (and that line has enough riders to allow a decent rest interval), I doubt I'll be good for the full 100. Still, I'm giving it my all. Last year I did a metric that was about 2/3 on my own, and I'm in better shape now than I was then. It'll just depend on how fast I have to ride.

BTW, Jethro, sorry about the apparent thread hijacking. It wasn't my intent.
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Old 05-29-12, 09:03 PM   #32
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Ages ago when I trained and raced I spent a lot of time in pelotons and pace lines and found some traits I like in other riders in a those situations. I like a person in a pace line with me to be smooth and relaxed. An example of smooth; when I’m inches off their rear wheel, I want them to be able to come up off the saddle when a climb starts without shoving their bike backwards under them. An example of being relaxed; I want them to not tense up or get rattled when you bump bars or shoulders with them.

Pace lines are a lot of fun when everybody relaxes and contributes.
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Old 05-30-12, 05:35 AM   #33
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I'll hang in as long as I can, but unless the other Bs form their own line pretty early (and that line has enough riders to allow a decent rest interval), I doubt I'll be good for the full 100. Still, I'm giving it my all. Last year I did a metric that was about 2/3 on my own, and I'm in better shape now than I was then. It'll just depend on how fast I have to ride.

BTW, Jethro, sorry about the apparent thread hijacking. It wasn't my intent.
Pretty interesting thread. This guy (Rocky) wants to do a full century in August and I'm thinking drafting will make it a lot easier to do. AZTall's links were especially helpful. Poor Rocky's looking to me for advice even though our little stint was the first time I've drafted. He's doing pretty good considering he's just went from a Hybrid to a Roadbike about a month ago but he's only about 160# and he kills me on the hills.
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Old 05-30-12, 07:06 AM   #34
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Pretty interesting thread. This guy (Rocky) wants to do a full century in August and I'm thinking drafting will make it a lot easier to do. AZTall's links were especially helpful. Poor Rocky's looking to me for advice even though our little stint was the first time I've drafted. He's doing pretty good considering he's just went from a Hybrid to a Roadbike about a month ago but he's only about 160# and he kills me on the hills.
I think I'm committed to going out of town one weekend in late August, though I don't remember which one. I'll have to check with the wife. If your century doesn't happen on that weekend, I'd be happy to join you and Rocky to spread the pain out a little thinner.
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Old 05-30-12, 07:54 AM   #35
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I would never enter an event without the intention of doing it alone, that is, I would never count on drafting. I never get in a line with strangers and my friends drop me in the hills. Yes, I've ridden in lines but that is the exception.
Last year I did a century that was so windy people were walking on flat ground. Since I suck at climbing it's nice to be able to solo rides where people whine about wind and struggle to stay behind a stronger rider.
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Old 05-30-12, 10:17 AM   #36
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I would never enter an event without the intention of doing it alone, that is, I would never count on drafting. I never get in a line with strangers and my friends drop me in the hills. Yes, I've ridden in lines but that is the exception.
Last year I did a century that was so windy people were walking on flat ground. Since I suck at climbing it's nice to be able to solo rides where people whine about wind and struggle to stay behind a stronger rider.
Also, many have commented on riding hills with slower riders and it seems the theme is to drop them, beat them to the top, do your own thing and etc. If I were to ride with John and assuming he is slower, I would ride next to him on the climbs not in front or behind. The reason is that if I try to lead, I will go too fast. If I ride behind, he feels the pressure to ride faster. Riding next to someone is more encouraging and allows him to ride at his own pace. Sometimes the presence helps the slower rider to relax and they do better. And it is more fun.
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Old 05-30-12, 10:20 AM   #37
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Also, many have commented on riding hills with slower riders and it seems the theme is to drop them, beat them to the top, do your own thing and etc. If I were to ride with John and assuming he is slower, I would ride next to him on the climbs not in front or behind. The reason is that if I try to lead, I will go too fast. If I ride behind, he feels the pressure to ride faster. Riding next to someone is more encouraging and allows him to ride at his own pace. Sometimes the presence helps the slower rider to relax and they do better. And it is more fun.
That is a very good attitude, Hermes... and a cool thing to do.
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Old 05-30-12, 10:38 AM   #38
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A rotating paceline is best if everyone has roughly the same power output or your want to share the load fairly in a breakaway.

If you want the fastest speed, you want to have each rider at their limit. In team time trials where they optimize for speed, stronger riders will take longer pulls and the weakest rider does whatever he can while still holding on. If you have a Cancellara in your group you want him taking longggg pulls.
True, but a TTT is not a double paceline. You can prolong a pull in a single line, but if you do that in a double line, you destroy the rotation. The way to accomplish it in a double line is for a weaker rider to skip a pull now and then.
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Old 05-30-12, 10:46 AM   #39
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True, but a TTT is not a double paceline. You can prolong a pull in a single line, but if you do that in a double line, you destroy the rotation. The way to accomplish it in a double line is for a weaker rider to skip a pull now and then.
Agreed. I was just commenting that a rotating paceline is not generally the fastest way for a group to ride.
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Old 05-30-12, 10:55 AM   #40
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AFAIC, a (say) 8-man paceline, where each person pulld for half a mile, gives you a tough half mile and a 3-1/2 mile rest. That way the guy taking the pull is pretty fresh - and that's how the group is able to maintain a decent speed.

I once did a century with an 8-man paceline where each person pulled for a mile, while the others rested for 7 miles. Our average speed for the century was over 19.2 mph, and we were all in pretty good shape at the end.
To be frank, there is no way the approach you describe can compete with an efficient rotating double paceline. Longer pulls only work in a single line, and a single line requires more time in the wind when you aren't protecting anyone. When you come off the front in an 8 person line, it takes quite a few seconds to get to the back, where you are once again protected. If you speed up that process by slowing down, you have to accelerate to attach to the back, and that effort will drain you. The goal of the paceline is protection, and anything you do to reduce that reduces efficiency. Reduce efficiency, and you will be slower. The other big factor is that the power you can repeatedly average for a mile is far less than the power you can repeatedly average for the brief period you are pulling in a rotating line. 20mph repeatedly is one thing. 28mph repeatedly is quite different. If your same group did a rotating paceline for that century, you could increase your average speed, and still be just as fresh. Guaranteed. The shorter recovery time works in a rotation because of the shorter duration of the (harder) effort, and because the more efficient technique reduces fatigue. It's absolutely faster, even/especially over long distances.
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Old 05-30-12, 10:57 AM   #41
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Agreed. I was just commenting that a rotating paceline is not generally the fastest way for a group to ride.
Ah, but in a group of any size, unless there is significant disparity in ability, it absolutely is.
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Old 05-30-12, 02:38 PM   #42
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If trackies can do one thing well it is ride in a pace line close to the rider in front.
How true. Even though I'm no longer racing, I still spend a couple of evenings at the indoor track in Burnaby each week during the winter to keep my pace line skills sharp. There is nothing like riding on the track to develop smoothness in a pace line.

That said, a common misconception is that the skilled rider can get closer to the wheel in front. Not completely true. How close you can get to the rider in front is more a function of how smooth that front rider is. The smoother the rider ahead of you, the closer you can get to his wheel. In a road pace line, there are some riders I wouldn't get within a wheel-diameter of! Others - on the track - I can practically brush their back tires.

Also, on an indoor track, you can quickly tell who the roadies are. As soon as they hit the front of the pace line, the speed goes up noticeably. I think this is because roadies are used to gauging speed by how hard they are pushing the pedals, while trackies have learned to gauge speed by noting how fast their legs are moving. Roadies are used to applying more foot pressure when they hit the front because suddenly they are in the wind and need to apply 10% or so more power. On an indoor track, there is not that much difference (unless you're actually racing), and trackies are used to making very minute speed increments.

That said, the only way you're going to learn to ride pace lines is to ride pace lines, on a track or on the road. But the most important thing to focus on is being smooth. Just like the highest accolade for a race car driver (or bike racer) is, "he or she is extremely smooth." You can tell it's a good rider because you can confidently get right up on their back wheel.

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Old 05-30-12, 04:26 PM   #43
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Ah, but in a group of any size, unless there is significant disparity in ability, it absolutely is.
There's almost always a significant disparity in power (not ability) in any group. That's why it isn't generally used in TTTs where max speed is paramount.

As an example if you had 8 identical guys with an FTP of 300W riding for an hour in a time trial you want the guy in the wind putting out roughly 400W. The guys behind will be doing averaging around 280 and will recover. In this example 30 Sec pulls should work OK. In a rotating paceline you'd be in the wind for less than 30 Sec but you wouldn't be able to put out more than 400W as you wouldn't have time to recover.

I think the biggest benefits of a double rotating paceline are it is a compact way to ride and a fair and simple way to share the work.

Unless I'm missing something, I don't see any reason why the rotating paceline would be faster. At best, with equal riders, it would be the same. But as I said you virtually never have everyone equal.
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Old 05-30-12, 04:51 PM   #44
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How true. Even though I'm no longer racing, I still spend a couple of evenings at the indoor track in Burnaby each week during the winter to keep my pace line skills sharp. There is nothing like riding on the track to develop smoothness in a pace line.

That said, a common misconception is that the skilled rider can get closer to the wheel in front. Not completely true. How close you can get to the rider in front is more a function of how smooth that front rider is. The smoother the rider ahead of you, the closer you can get to his wheel. In a road pace line, there are some riders I wouldn't get within a wheel-diameter of! Others - on the track - I can practically brush their back tires.

Also, on an indoor track, you can quickly tell who the roadies are. As soon as they hit the front of the pace line, the speed goes up noticeably. I think this is because roadies are used to gauging speed by how hard they are pushing the pedals, while trackies have learned to gauge speed by noting how fast their legs are moving. Roadies are used to applying more foot pressure when they hit the front because suddenly they are in the wind and need to apply 10% or so more power. On an indoor track, there is not that much difference (unless you're actually racing), and trackies are used to making very minute speed increments.

That said, the only way you're going to learn to ride pace lines is to ride pace lines, on a track or on the road. But the most important thing to focus on is being smooth. Just like the highest accolade for a race car driver (or bike racer) is, "he or she is extremely smooth." You can tell it's a good rider because you can confidently get right up on their back wheel.

Luis
The first time my wife and I attended a coaching session with Roger Young at Velo Sports Center in Carson, we started a 60 lap warmup. Each racer took two laps on the lead and pulled up. What I noticed was that the racers were in perfect formation and did not accelerate the pace. That was true until my wife took the lead and increased speed. The racer behind her held pace and let her go. When she went up track to exchange, there was no one there. We were 1/4 lap behind. She did not do that again.

The other thing was the pace was 20 mph which was perfect for the 250 wooden track at the relief line. At our track in San Jose, racers routinely increase pace in warmup because they think it is too slow or whatever. When you are the new guy, it is always a good idea to conform. What I did not know was that after 60 laps Roger comes out on the motor cycle and we did a 20 lap motor burnout. He accelerates up to 30 mph and slowly increases until there are only a couple of racers left. At 30 mph, flaws start to creep into the pace line and getting back on gets really hard.

I was there a couple of weeks ago for another training session. At this session, he organized groups with a leader. He was on the motorcycle and set the pace line speed to 26 to 28 mph. The goal was that each team leader could sprint from the relief line to the pole lane and his team would chase simulated a bunch sprint. After the sprint, they got back on the motor from below. We were all in 88 gear inches. At that speed, one had to be smooth and close on the wheel in front. I was lucky in that I had some really good wheels to follow. The drill ran for 20 minutes. The pace set by the motor was relentless and it took a lot of mental focus.
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Old 05-30-12, 05:14 PM   #45
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True, but a TTT is not a double paceline. You can prolong a pull in a single line, but if you do that in a double line, you destroy the rotation. The way to accomplish it in a double line is for a weaker rider to skip a pull now and then.
Since the leader in a double line is at the front only long enough to pull over and drift back (at least judging from the video), what's the accepted method for a weaker rider to skip a pull - by letting the stronger ones back into the line ahead of him?
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Old 05-30-12, 05:30 PM   #46
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There's almost always a significant disparity in power (not ability) in any group. That's why it isn't generally used in TTTs where max speed is paramount.
It all has to do with the size of the group. Only 4 guys in a TTT. Double the line, and you have half the group in the wind at the same time. No good. But make that 8 people, and IMO the tide has turned. There is plenty of recovery time. Making assumptions about watts, and how long it takes someone to recover is, well... making assumptions. Look at what people actually do when they want to maximize their speed over a long distance. If a group of 8+ are working together, that is generally a rotating line. The more people you get above ~8, the more efficient it becomes. Very large groups, and race pelotons, are entirely different.
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Old 05-30-12, 05:43 PM   #47
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Since the leader in a double line is at the front only long enough to pull over and drift back (at least judging from the video), what's the accepted method for a weaker rider to skip a pull - by letting the stronger ones back into the line ahead of him?
By not moving onto the side that is rotating forward, and maybe letting the riders coming back know that. But when you are drifting back, and you don't see anyone coming up on your side, you are automatically going to fill in that gap. You know that either the last rider has passed, or whomever is behind isn't going to rotate through, so you glance over or under your shoulder, and grab the spot. Note that, when you hang back like that to not rotate through, you are ending up with a slight gap for part of the time, so you aren't getting the full benefit of the draft. But it's still a lot easier than pulling.
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Old 05-30-12, 05:47 PM   #48
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There's almost always a significant disparity in power (not ability) in any group.
I think you meant individual power output capability over a period of time, and if that's what you meant, I think you are incorrect. With the groups I ride in, that stuff gets sorted out fairly quickly and smaller groups form with individuals' power output fairly similar.

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Unless I'm missing something, I don't see any reason why the rotating paceline would be faster. At best, with equal riders, it would be the same. But as I said you virtually never have everyone equal.
I think you're missing something. It's a way for riders to share the work, and conserve energy, which is a limited resource. I've been watching only the highlights of the Giro, and the English language ones at that, and I noticed a functioning circular paceline. I think those guys know what they are doing.

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Old 05-30-12, 06:14 PM   #49
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I didn't read ALL the responses, so I hope I'm not repeating what someone else posted. A couple of points.

There's a big difference between recreational draft lines and racing-type pacelines. The racing pacelines have been covered: short pulls, high pace, etc. For recreational lines the standards are a bit different. We generally keep to a mile or less per pull. Signal by some mutually-agreed signal - I usually just do a point in the direction of coming off the front. Ideally that direction should be to the windward side, so that you're blocking the wind for the others as you fall to the back. The rear-most person should tell you "back" as you fall past, so that you know when to speed back up to the pace of the line. Keep in mind as you decide how long to pull that your pull does not end until you're on the back and recovered.

Another thing to remember is constant pace. Do not pick up the pace when you get to the front or you're likely to shed the guy who just went to the back, along with other riders who are struggling to hang in there. After all, if you're not racing, then you're probably trying to stay together. And the thing with constant pace also means you can expect to lose speed on climbs. If you double your wattage to maintain speed on a climb, you're going to exceed the capacity of some riders in the group. Again, that's cool if you're in a race and trying to separate the men from the boys, but not in a recreational group.

It doesn't hurt to mention other main points: ride in a straight line, call out hazards, don't cross wheels, warn those behind you before standing, and in general warn those around you before doing ANYTHING that might affect your speed or line of travel. And don't spit unless you're at the back.
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Old 05-30-12, 06:22 PM   #50
gregf83 
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Originally Posted by on the path View Post
I think you're missing something. It's a way for riders to share the work, and conserve energy, which is a limited resource. I've been watching only the highlights of the Giro, and the English language ones at that, and I noticed a functioning circular paceline. I think those guys know what they are doing.
Obviously, it's a way to share the work as is a single paceline with the riders dropping back when they finished their pull. The question is which is more efficient if you are trying to go as fast as possible. The rotating pacelines you observed in the Giro were in breakaway groups where they want to share the load equally not necessarily go as fast as possible. Watch the team time trial and you'll see the fastest configuration.

A double paceline has two guys constantly in the wind. With 8 guys you have 1/4 of them constantly in the wind. With a single paceline it's slightly over 1/8 of your group in the wind, hence it is more efficient.

I'm not saying a rotating paceline doesn't have it's place. It's just not the fastest way for a group to ride.

Sorry, I didn't mean to take this thread so far off topic.
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