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Paceline info needed

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Paceline info needed

Old 06-29-11, 07:51 AM
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Paceline info needed

Although I don't often ride in a paceline, I have a good understanding of the concept. But, here's a specific question/scenario that I need some advice for...I'm 65 about 10 lbs over my cycling weight and just starting to "get my legs" on the bike. I'm a fairly slow climber but recently did a 35 mi. ride that included some significant elevation at 15 mph. average. Wish I could give some accurate stats but I can only say the route was pretty hill with a 2.5 mi. climb at the end. I probably average 5 mph on the steeper parts of that section of the ride. A 25 yr. old mechanic at my LBS keeps bugging me (in a friendly way) to join him on our clubs' Weds. night ride. He's more overweight than I am and hasn't been riding more than me but, as I said, he's 25 or so. Anyway, this Weds. night ride is 54 mi. in a paceline at about 18 mph over a pretty flat route. There are basically no "climbs" but maybe a few "sprinter's hills." My problem is that I don't know how to judge whether my current fitness will allow me to do the ride at that pace. Any guesses or info on how to judge my solo rides vs. paceline rides?
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Old 06-29-11, 08:05 AM
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It sounds like it might be slightly too fast. But I would try it if I knew I could bail out and find my own way back if it's too fast. ( I've been on rides where I had no idea how to get back!) Don't try to pull, just stay toward the back, and let the riders rotate in front of you, and see how it goes.

I always try to keep in the draft on fast rides. I'll push really hard to close up a gap instead of riding out in the wind. With a dozen riders, I can shelter in the draft on flat roads at a lot higher speeds than I would do solo, but on fast rides, those guys blast up the hills, and I can't keep up there.

I don't like to be the guy holding up the ride that can't keep up on the flats. Groups are often used to waiting for a short time at the top of hills, but someone that falls back on the flats really slows down the ride.

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Old 06-29-11, 08:23 AM
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Carry a map or GPS device, stay on as long as you can, and when you can't, drop off and say, "Thanks for the ride".

Seriously, you'll never know until you try. You would be amazed at how fast you can go with the aerodynamic benefit of the draft and the psychological benefit of the group. Depending on the group, if you gap off, some guys may drop back to help you bridge back up. They might even go so far as to put a hand on your bum and give you a push. If you don't want the help, let them know up front that you may drop off. At any rate, give it a shot and enjoy.
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Old 06-29-11, 08:24 AM
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As a broad generality, I find that in a paceline, I can maintain an extra 2-3 MPH (average as measured by the cyclometer at the end of the ride) over a 30-50 mile ride than I can riding solo on the same course.

Details, like how I'm feeling, and the group's relationship between testosterone, adrenaline, and "natural" speed are the primary variables I encounter.

Interestingly, since most of my riding is solo commuting, over the years I've built up a near immunity towards headwinds. (Dragging panniers into the winds will do that for you.) As a result, I always end up pulling the group on the upwind legs, even though nearly all of them are faster than me.
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Old 06-29-11, 08:35 AM
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If you haven't ridden lately in a paceline, it's best to practice with someone first, especially for a 54 mile ride. The drafting is better the closer you get to the wheel in front but there's risk of causing a crash if you aren't careful. Stay back too far and you fall off and also drop those behind you.

I generally ride my myself at 16 mph. When I do a century with the group I ride with, we average 20 mph and that's a group with lots of experience and we keep the space from a few inches to 1.5 feet.
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Old 06-29-11, 09:38 AM
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This is all good info and pretty much what I was looking for. Thanks. I stopped by my LBS and spoke to the owner, Scott, a friend of mine who is in his mid-50's. He knows me and knows both the route I did at 15 mph and the 54 mi. route. He estimated that I would be good for 17 mph or a bit more as long as I didn't push too hard and burn myself out. It all sounds pretty consistent with what's been said here. Excellent stuff.
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Old 06-29-11, 10:31 AM
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I think you should be able to draft at 18, if that is their cruising speed. But if it gets faster and groups often do sprints and high speeds part of the way, then you are probably off the back. I would think you might do OK for about 30 miles but 54 miles is a ways to go especially if it is at a pace a little over your head. You can certainly give it a try, but be prepared to make your own way back.
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Old 06-29-11, 11:17 AM
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If you're not familiar with the area, get a map, let them know you'll hang on until you're tired and then find your own way home, and it should be good all around.

The 18 mph may turn out to be 25 for the first half and 12 for the second half or something, too, so it's hard to guess. Also, it depends on who shows up, who's riding in front, how windy it is, etc.

I was riding all out on our club ride a while back, one other guy caught me, I drafted him for a while, then told him I needed to back off some- turns out he did, too- so don't assume you're the only one that's going to be challenged.
"be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."
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