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STP Paceline Question

Old 05-11-08, 11:33 PM
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omotal
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STP Paceline Question

I am doing my first STP this year and am shooting for the one-day. My question is this; I am probably coming to the ride by myself or with a buddy. What's the etiquette on joining a paceline during the ride. Is this frowned upon, or is it pretty straightforward to politlely jump in a pace line (and of course take your turns at the front).

I also read somewhere that doing the one day without being in a paceline is a bad idea. Thoughts?

Thanks. Looking forward to the ride.
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Old 05-12-08, 12:08 AM
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Chances are I'll be going solo on one day this year. Last year, I was in several pacelines that just 'happened'. But it is always polite to ask first. Also, I only had the benefit of a paceline for roughly the first 120 miles and did the rest solo and I still managed to finish.

I assume your comfortable and have experience with this, if not I would try out a Cascade ride or two to get some experience. There's definitely a benefit but the speeds can be pretty fast (25+ mph) sometimes so you really need to know what you're doing.
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Old 05-12-08, 06:20 AM
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A rider on the STP is ten times more likely to be taken out due to a fellow rider than a car, so any efficient, organized, well practiced paceline doesn't want some unknown quantity trying to join up.
Riders are generally bunched up during the first 40 miles, so drafting just happens, although there is rarely any headwind at that time of the day (4:45-6:45am) in the Kent Valley.
As the ride progresses and riders spread out (especially after Centrailia) , you will probably find other solo riders who are at a similar pace as yourself, and more than happy to form a (2-man?) paceline.
If you are in reasonable shape, you don't need a paceline to finish in one day, although your time may not be something to brag about. I went solo on a MTB twice (not with skinny tires either) and had no problem finishing, although it was a heck of a workout.
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Old 05-12-08, 06:40 AM
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As a repeat rider of STP, my view on pacelines is this. There are some groups that don't mind you hanging on the their tail but don't want you to get in the middle of their paceline. All the rest are people like you who are using any means they can to get to the finish. There are crowds of people heading south, at first, and my concern is to ride defensively. Don't get slammed by an idiot. However, virtually any wheel is fair game to follow if you trust the wheel. Don't expect people to always know paceline etiquette. I always ask or let people know I'm there if it appears to be a bunch of friends or a designated group.
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Old 05-12-08, 08:39 AM
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I'm soloing this year and not planning on any kind of pacelining. The big issues I've heard regarding STP and pacelines all seem to be centered around the first 30-50 miles: No understanding of paceline safety, much less etiquette... People drafting while on their aeros, etc. As much as possible I'm looking to stay away from that sort of thing.
An impromptu paceline may develop when a few riders realize they have the same pace going, but after a bad wreck due to a clueless wheelsucker back in '91, I don't ride pacelines and I'm the mean guy who yells and farts at uninvited wheel leeches.
The best thing is to ask. Some pacelines are open to people latching on mid-ride. Others are very intense groups who practice their paceline drills 3 days a week, and you can't get a sheet of paper between riders, they're so tight... They'll be less likely to let an "outsider" into their group.
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Old 05-12-08, 10:43 AM
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I did the one day last year too. Came to the start line by myself, but ended up joining several pacelines along the way. Most just called out and invited me to hop on. Stopped at every STP-sponsored rest stop and fuel up, get going again and eventually join a new paceline. It was pretty much like this the until the rolling hills and bends in the 2nd half of the ride. The lines would then splinter so I'd just go solo for fear of a pileup. Finished pretty strong at the finish line. I'd use this same strategy again if I were doing the one-day. I think the key was to get on a paceline on those long flat stretches in the first half. By the time I got to the rolling hills, I had enough in the tank to finish solo.
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Old 05-12-08, 01:55 PM
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as others have stated, the first 100 miles or so has lots of hap-hazard pacelines, last year there were some that were easlily 50 riders long, if not more!

i never had any issues with other riders, besides their water bottles strewn all over the road by train tracks..

i'll be out there this year, most likely solo as well. shooting for ~12-13 hours this time around. nothing special but faster than last years 14.5 hours time (finish ~7:30).
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Old 05-12-08, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by mattm View Post
as others have stated, the first 100 miles or so has lots of hap-hazard pacelines, last year there were some that were easlily 50 riders long, if not more!

i never had any issues with other riders, besides their water bottles strewn all over the road by train tracks..

i'll be out there this year, most likely solo as well. shooting for ~12-13 hours this time around. nothing special but faster than last years 14.5 hours time (finish ~7:30).
That's a nice quick time! This is my first StP, and my first double in well over a decade, so my goal is just to finish; no projections on any finish time yet. Before the cutoff time, I suppose.
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Old 05-12-08, 04:21 PM
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My first STP was solo and I jumped onto as many pacelines as I could to start with. Like has been said, a lot of times people just tell you to hop on. Keep a bit of distance though, just in case. A couple of times I got on the end of a paceline where the other people were together and didn't want me in the middle of their line, so they would just signal for me to let them in instead of going behind me. Last year I rode with 3 other people and I didn't want us getting split up so I would signal to be let in after our group. It's funny how quickly those lines grow. I'd drop back after my pull and suddenly there would be 20 people behind us......

Whatever you do, watch out for the train track crossings. I saw people freak out and slam on the brakes to cross the tracks doing about 5mph. There were several near accidents.... and make sure your bottle cages will hold the bottles over some hard bumps. I could have picked up at least a hundred bottles last year....

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Old 05-12-08, 08:54 PM
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So where does the newbie learn about the do's, don'ts, etiquette, and such before attempting the STP? The search for "etiquette" turns up 57 pages, 1400+ results - now that's a lot of reading!

I'd be really interested in the "lessons learned" tailored to this event.

STP on my wish list this summer. I fear I am too much of a defensive rider, which could in turn cause problems for others.
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Old 05-13-08, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by STSCS View Post
So where does the newbie learn about the do's, don'ts, etiquette, and such before attempting the STP? The search for "etiquette" turns up 57 pages, 1400+ results - now that's a lot of reading!

I'd be really interested in the "lessons learned" tailored to this event.

STP on my wish list this summer. I fear I am too much of a defensive rider, which could in turn cause problems for others.
The Cascade Bike Club rides are a good place to start. Find one of their rides at your pace, and join in with them. You can learn a lot very quickly that way.
Do some other organized century rides like Flying Wheels. A lot of people use the Flying Wheels ride as their "calibrator" ride to decide if their STP will be a one or a two day ride.

You can read the "We're going to yell at you" thread over in the Road Forum for a good larf or two about some people who take pacelines far too seriously for not getting paid to ride.
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Old 05-13-08, 05:52 PM
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Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
Do some other organized century rides like Flying Wheels. A lot of people use the Flying Wheels ride as their "calibrator" ride to decide if their STP will be a one or a two day ride.
Might be wise to invest in your STP rider number now rather than later, if you're in the "I'm going to use FW to decide whether or not I can do the STP" group -- a message posted on CBC's message board last week or so said they were at about 2/3 of the 9000 registrations, ahead of last year.

Last year the STP registrations closed right after FW. This year it could be before. Avoid the "oh, please someone sell me your STP registration" postings ...

BTW, there is a lot of basic good information on the STP on the Cascade site.
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Old 05-13-08, 11:16 PM
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Oh crap! Thanks for the STP info. I've discovered the Cascade site, and the WestSound club. My riding partner and I are planning on hitting up the next local meet at Roundtable.

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Old 05-15-08, 05:53 PM
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My husband and I ride a tandem and have done two 2-day STPs and two 1-day rides. For the 1 days we trained in advance with other tandems so we'd know each other's styles and paces and develop trust that we'd call stuff and move consistently.

I've attached a file from a presentation to our club on how to paceline. There are a few things in particular that stand out in my mind.
1) short consistent length pulls, time agreed upon
2) always call movements before making them
3) the person going off the front signals, waits to be told it's clear, then moves left and slows down until they're at the back and tuck back in.
4) the person taking the lead must monitor that they don't pick up speed. it's important to stay at the agreed upon speed. You do not want to yo-yo the group.

Since you're riding a single you'll be tempted to "suck" onto tandem wheels. Asking permission is the bare minimum. It's pretty impolite to draft and not also take your turn pulling. It's not a lot of singles that can pull a tandem. We've met a few and have greatly appreciated them. We've also had a tandem join us early enroute because their pace was consistent with ours and we oriented them to our practices.

I'd suggest trying to recruit some folks to practice with between now and STP. As others have said, solid pacelines usually don't want unknowns freeloading and the unorganized pacelines can be pretty dangerous. Of course, YMMV.

Hope that helps.
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Tandem Paceline Riding.doc (25.5 KB, 19 views)
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Old 05-16-08, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by moleman76 View Post
Might be wise to invest in your STP rider number now rather than later, if you're in the "I'm going to use FW to decide whether or not I can do the STP" group -- a message posted on CBC's message board last week or so said they were at about 2/3 of the 9000 registrations, ahead of last year.

Last year the STP registrations closed right after FW. This year it could be before. Avoid the "oh, please someone sell me your STP registration" postings ...

BTW, there is a lot of basic good information on the STP on the Cascade site.
Oh yah! I should have mentioned that even with a rider cap at over 9000, it still fills up. Not as quickly as smaller rides like RSVP or RAW, but it does fill up.
You can order your STP number, your return bus ticket to Seattle, a Flying Wheels registration, and a CBC membership all on the same order if you want.
(STP + commemorative jacket + return bus + FW registration = $185)
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Old 05-17-08, 12:12 AM
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I did my one and only STP about 5 years ago doing the one day option. My plan was to avoid pacelines completely just to test myself. Around Yelm I was beginning to be overtaken by a huge paceline and as the leader passed me he asked if I'd join. I jumped in line around the 2nd or 3rd position from the front. As the leaders pulled to the back I soon found myself leading this gigantic paceline....it was a blast! At the front I got a sudden surge of energy and I soon was pulling a huge train at a pretty fast pace. I didn't really know how to drop to the back and nobody offered to take over so I just kept going. I think I led the way for around 10 miles passing lots of other cyclists. We stopped at rest stop and after a quick break I was back on the road while the rest of the group was still lounging...they never did catch up to me again. It was kind of a power trip and pretty fun although it certainly did require a quite a bit of energy. I ended up finishing ok (13-14hrs?) but next time...probably this year...if I get in a paceline it's going to be at the back!
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Old 05-17-08, 04:18 AM
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I did this ride over 20 years ago and even back then the first 100 miles were all large pacelines. It felt like one continuous line all the way to Centralia. After Centralia I was by myself more. I did the first 100 in 4.25 hours and finished that year in 10.5 hours. I haven't done it again since that year, look at my location, its just too far to travel.
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Old 05-25-08, 09:35 PM
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Originally Posted by moleman76 View Post
Might be wise to invest in your STP rider number now rather than later
any chance that you can request what number you get?
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Old 05-26-08, 12:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Ai52487963 View Post
any chance that you can request what number you get?
no, you'll get whatever number is next as your application is processed ... so you won't be able to choose a lucky number if you have a favorite.
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Old 05-26-08, 08:48 PM
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All super helpful comments, thank you all; I have recruited my Sunday morning group to practice pacelines, and if I cannot talk someone into going from here, at least I'll feel confident about asking to join a paceline.
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Old 05-26-08, 10:16 PM
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Wow. I have learned a lot in this discussion. I honestly didn't think it was such a big deal. I am an avid wheel sucker. I am also respectful in that I always thank the person I have latched on to and I am very consistent with how I pace (I've been told). So I never really thought even to "ask" permission. I thought it was all par for the course. I will ask in the future or feel out my company. I have never had a problem with ppl actually getting mad or disgruntle over it. I always thank them and I pay it forward when I can.
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Old 05-26-08, 10:46 PM
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I had somebody sucking my wheel on a back (un-ref'd) section of a tri. He misjudged how I was going to take a turn, and I ended up in the hospital overnight.

Since then, I don't allow anyone to latch onto my wheel without some discussion of call-outs, hand signals, and general ettiquette.
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Old 05-30-08, 11:48 AM
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I think it's always a good idea to let people know when you are passing them. Seems that's how most accidents happen during STP. A cheerful "on your left (or right)" or a flick of your bell is appreciated.
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Old 07-15-08, 11:44 AM
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Thanks for all of the great coments. STP was this past weekend, and I had a really good time. The course is quite well marked, and between the markings and all of the riders on the course, I did not pull out my map once (and I am completely unfamiliar with the route or area). The paceline question is more or less moot; as most commenters noted, the pacelines form and disband spontaneously. The really serious clubs are smoking along, and if you want to jump on those, you should ask. I saw a couple of quite serious accidents, so it pays to pick your partners well and carefully.

I rolled in after 14:40 or so - nothing to brag abot but, hey, it's not a race. Last advice - eat early, eat often. Drink a TON. Make sure you rest, but keep the breaks short (less than 10 minutes).
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