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Road Cycling ďIt is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.Ē -- Ernest Hemingway

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Old 04-22-07, 09:57 PM   #1
skrizman
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Add your paceline advice

The second that I slipped into a paceline and went from chugging to coasting while maintaining my 22 mph speed, I was hooked.

I was unsure of the protocol and a bit scared about getting into pacelines, but I was staring down an 80-mile, straight-as-an-arrow, flat-as-a-pancake run from Alamosa to Salida (Colorado). With a slight headwind. I need terrain to keep my mind interested and body engaged. I would have been toast on this day if I didnít do something to break the monotony.

I qietly joined a line that passed me. They werenít all wearing the same jersey, they didnít look like driven demons, and they were going about my speed. As luck would have it, they were a pickup paceline that had developed a three-minute rotation that everyone followed. Others that I would join that day were not as organized. I couldnít for the life of me figure out why some guys would pull for much longer than everyone else. Were they trying to show us up? Were they being passive-aggressive and trying to get us all to agree to longer pulls? I heard later that several nasty accidents happened that day because of pacelines. Iím not sure what contributed to those (although I heard one guyís wheel just disintegrated). But I suspect there were a lot of paceline newbies that day.

Iím still a neophyte, but here are some things Iíve picked up about pacelines. I hope others will add to this list (and also contribute to my blog, where riders preparing for this year's Ride the Rockies are swapping stories and advice -- blogtherockies.builddialogue.com):

Ė Itís quite OK to ask someone in the paceline if itís OK to join, and find out how long the pulls are.

Ė Donít look at the wheel ahead of you. Look just over the riderís shoulder. Youíll get quite comfortable judging your distance and youíll also see a bit of whatís ahead.

Ė Point to potholes and junk on the road to alert riders behind you. Put your hand down when the line slows.

Ė If the head of the line is ready to pass slower cyclists, the rider at the rear should look back to see if cars are coming and call ahead ďcar backĒ or ďall clear.Ē

Ė Keep the speed steady. When itís your turn to pull, the temptation is to show how strong you are. But if the line has been going at 22 mph, keep it there. Youíll probably need to shift down a gear.

Ė When your pull is over, gesture to the rider behind you to pull up. You peel off to the left and let the line pass, and you grab on to the back.

I was truly amazed at how much energy I saved in the line. After falling back to the end of the line, I would click up one or two gears and even then found myself coasting a bit. Pacelines keep you mentally engaged. For me, thatís the only way to survive a long, flat day.
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Old 04-22-07, 10:00 PM   #2
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I'll add mine:

- it is okay to search BikeForums for the approximately 1,023,817 threads that already exist on "paceline etiquette"
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Old 04-22-07, 10:30 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by 'nother
I'll add mine:

- it is okay to search BikeForums for the approximately 1,023,817 threads that already exist on "paceline etiquette"
Dude / dudette: Not cool. The OP is not asking any unreasonable questions. He / she is simply happy from a good ride and wants to share his lessons with the world. It's people like you who make roadies seem elitist.
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Old 04-22-07, 11:02 PM   #4
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Dude / dudette: Not cool. The OP is not asking any unreasonable questions. He / she is simply happy from a good ride and wants to share his lessons with the world. It's people like you who make roadies seem elitist.
+1.
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Old 04-22-07, 11:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skrizman
I couldnít for the life of me figure out why some guys would pull for much longer than everyone else. Were they trying to show us up? Were they being passive-aggressive and trying to get us all to agree to longer pulls?
Typically, riders with less paceline experience pull longer.
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Old 04-23-07, 01:13 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by skrizman
...
Ė When your pull is over, gesture to the rider behind you to pull up. You peel off to the left and let the line pass, and you grab on to the back.
...
right
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Old 04-23-07, 02:01 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Slice2
Typically, riders with less paceline experience pull longer.
I haven't done much paceline stuff, but a couple of times when I've been riding with stronger riders, they fall into a system of pulling longer than I do. Just because I can't hang on if I try to pull as long as they do. What I do is try to keep up the 'chosen' speed when I pull, but since i'm not as strong, I tire faster and am not afraid to fall back to recover when I fell it's time. The alternative would be to drop off the speed when I pull.
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Old 04-23-07, 02:09 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by F = MA
Quote:
Originally Posted by skrizman
...
Ė When your pull is over, gesture to the rider behind you to pull up. You peel off to the left and let the line pass, and you grab on to the back.
...
right
Into the wind
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Old 04-23-07, 02:21 AM   #9
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Into the wind
Towards the middle of the road (i.e. left) - that's how it's done here.
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Old 04-23-07, 02:49 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skrizman
The second that I slipped into a paceline and went from chugging to coasting while maintaining my 22 mph speed, I was hooked.

I was unsure of the protocol and a bit scared about getting into pacelines, but I was staring down an 80-mile, straight-as-an-arrow, flat-as-a-pancake run from Alamosa to Salida (Colorado). With a slight headwind. I need terrain to keep my mind interested and body engaged. I would have been toast on this day if I didnít do something to break the monotony.

I qietly joined a line that passed me. They werenít all wearing the same jersey, they didnít look like driven demons, and they were going about my speed. As luck would have it, they were a pickup paceline that had developed a three-minute rotation that everyone followed. Others that I would join that day were not as organized. I couldnít for the life of me figure out why some guys would pull for much longer than everyone else. Were they trying to show us up? Were they being passive-aggressive and trying to get us all to agree to longer pulls? I heard later that several nasty accidents happened that day because of pacelines. Iím not sure what contributed to those (although I heard one guyís wheel just disintegrated). But I suspect there were a lot of paceline newbies that day.

Iím still a neophyte, but here are some things Iíve picked up about pacelines. I hope others will add to this list (and also contribute to my blog, where riders preparing for this year's Ride the Rockies are swapping stories and advice -- blogtherockies.builddialogue.com):

Ė Itís quite OK to ask someone in the paceline if itís OK to join, and find out how long the pulls are.

Ė Donít look at the wheel ahead of you. Look just over the riderís shoulder. Youíll get quite comfortable judging your distance and youíll also see a bit of whatís ahead.

Ė Point to potholes and junk on the road to alert riders behind you.
Put your hand down when the line slows.
If you're riding with an experienced group, that isn't necessary.

Additionally a novice to pacelining should keep his/her hands on the bars at all times.

Quote:
Originally Posted by skrizman
Ė If the head of the line is ready to pass slower cyclists, the rider at the rear should look back to see if cars are coming and call ahead ďcar backĒ or ďall clear.Ē
the last rider is not the only person responsible for letting those up front know that a car is passing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by skrizman
Ė Keep the speed steady. When itís your turn to pull, the temptation is to show how strong you are. But if the line has been going at 22 mph, keep it there. Youíll probably need to shift down a gear.

Ė When your pull is over, gesture to the rider behind you to pull up.
'gesturing' (i.e.a flick of the elbow) to the person behind you to pull is not always necessary - especially if you're pulling over.

additionally: depending on whom you're riding with, it can be pretty damn annoying.

Quote:
Originally Posted by skrizman
You peel off to the left and let the line pass, and you grab on to the back.

I was truly amazed at how much energy I saved in the line. After falling back to the end of the line, I would click up one or two gears and even then found myself coasting a bit. Pacelines keep you mentally engaged. For me, thatís the only way to survive a long, flat day.
depends on the direction of the wind.
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Old 04-23-07, 02:56 AM   #11
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depends on the direction of the wind.
Not if the law demands that you ride as far to the right as possible, which is the case here. "Taking the lane" is not allowed here.
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Old 04-23-07, 03:29 AM   #12
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Old 04-23-07, 03:33 AM   #13
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Not if the law demands that you ride as far to the right as possible, which is the case here. "Taking the lane" is not allowed here.
I'll remember that next time I'm in a paceline in Sverige, until then: depends on the direction of the wind.
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Old 04-23-07, 03:48 AM   #14
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depends on the direction of the wind.
Most recreational pacelines I've ridden in, the leader pulls off toward the center of the road, probably for safety/traffic reasons. The important thing is to do what the group is doing, or communicate and make sure they understand and agree if you're going to do initiate something different.
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Old 04-23-07, 04:18 AM   #15
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The most important rule to riding in a paceline is to make sure you injure as many people as possible. If needed, trick your bike out with secret weapons, like 007's Aston Martin. Most of the Lynskey custom frames come standard with a backwards mounted flamethower in the top tube. On a budget? A water bottle filled with WD-40 can produce a deadly oilslick- without being deadly to your wallet!
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Old 04-23-07, 06:02 AM   #16
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Not if the law demands that you ride as far to the right as possible, which is the case here. "Taking the lane" is not allowed here.
Well if that's the case, you can't rotate right or left.

Whether to rotate clockwise or counterclockwise depends on where the wind is coming from. The retreating rider(s) rotate into the wind. That way, the advancing riders continue to be sheltered from the wind.

Logical?

And whether the retreating line is one rider or a whole line of riders, the principle remains the same.

Bob
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Old 04-23-07, 06:11 AM   #17
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A rotating paceline will take up just as much room regardless of which side the lead riders are rotating off to. Not rotating off into the wind just doesn't make sense - geometric, legal, or aerodynamic.

Here's a good shot at it from a quickly googled PDF.
http://www.sdbc.org/core/includes/docs/pacelines1.pdf
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Old 04-23-07, 07:12 AM   #18
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Generally. you always pull off into the wind. Its the leaders job to move to the windward side of the lane to give as much room to the rest of the riders when the echelon forms left or right.

But more than anything is communication. This weekend I was riding with a pick up group that was always pulling off to the right. Until they told me, I didn't know.
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Old 04-23-07, 07:34 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roadbuzz
Most recreational pacelines I've ridden in, the leader pulls off toward the center of the road, probably for safety/traffic reasons.
Why would it be safer to put your slowest cyclist, by himself, closer to passing traffic? From a pure safety standpoint, I prefer pulling to the right -- but only if the wind is over there

Actually, pulling into the wind is a safety issue. If you have a crosswind, experienced riders will be drafting overlapped. You just can't pull out away from the wind (I'll push you back in if you do -- hand on hip). It's important to call it out if you're overlapping and you don't know the guys really well though -- unless you're in a race, where they'll generally expect you to be there.
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Old 04-23-07, 08:17 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Prodigy4299
Dude / dudette: Not cool. The OP is not asking any unreasonable questions. He / she is simply happy from a good ride and wants to share his lessons with the world. It's people like you who make roadies seem elitist.
Correction, it's people who yell at you who make roadies seem elitist (there are a couple of threads on that, too).

I'm not trying to be cool. This kind of thread comes up 3 or 4 times a week in prime season, and these questions get asked, and never answered satisfactorily. Evidence above (and, more to come below, no doubt).
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Old 04-23-07, 08:19 AM   #21
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don't overlap

don't overdo the lead, save some

don't speed up when you lead
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Old 04-23-07, 08:20 AM   #22
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Take consistent turns. NEVER go over threshold on your turn. If you are pushing that hard, sit at the back and conserve energy.
If you are stronger than the rest of the group, it is good to pull a little more (if you are chasing to catch, eg handicap race. I'm a sprinter, so I know who I have a chance against in a sprint and benefit from keeping a group together. Do not underestimate oponents though) otherwise they are gonna get more worn out quickly and your paceline will degenerate into you pulling at the front.

If there are no other riders who are co-ordinating the paceline, the slow lane blocks wind. Saves more energy and keeps speed up.

If it is a 'friendly' but fast paceline, don't pull harder than anyone else. You risk pushing them over their limits and it is unnecessary to try and show your strength if you are not trying to catch anything. If someone is pushing harder than everyone else, let them, they are probably hurting and take every opportunity to let them take wind.

If you get an ***hole who keeps his speed constant as he moves from the 'up' line to the 'down' line, drop back and see if he opens a gap on the slower line and drop in behind him. He shouldn't be doin that in a paceline.

MAKE SURE YOU ARE CLEAR OF THE BEHIND RIDER'S WHEEL BEFORE YOU MOVE ACROSS.
This is a pet hate as it interrupts the rhythm of the paceline, pisses you off if its the rider moving in front of you.

If a rider is hanging on to the back but only just, let them don't let it annoy you. This changes if its a race where you can try everything in your power to drop them unless you are trying to catch a handicap in which case just let them and drive on. (if you catch the handicap, attack after 1 min when they think the pace has settled)

If a rider is hanging on to the back and is clearly not hurting or working, go ahead and make a gesture or say something because it is only polite to share work when able.

Don't ride in a paceline above your experience level, and likewise it can be frustrating to ride in a paceline below your experience level (as fitness level progresses, paceline experience generally goes along with it)

don't overlap wheels if you can't handle crosswinds. Don't ride deep carbon in windy conditions unless you know how to keep it on the ground/straight line.

Unless they are not taking turns when they can, you have no right to gesture for riders to come through for a turn. If they are making you stay out the front consistently longer than themselves, they are either hurting in which case you slow down, or they are not taking turns which is not friendly in a friendly paceline. If this is the case in a race (assuming there is no chase groups behind you or none in front) you can drop the pace to conserve energy and try and force someone to come around to bring it back up. Be cautious though because this is a great time for someone to attack from the back.

Have fun. Pacelines make boring rides interesting.
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Old 04-23-07, 08:26 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slice2
Typically, riders with less paceline experience pull longer.
I've seen that happen too. But even with experienced riders, I've encountered two schools of thought on this:

1) everyone does an equal length pull. PREFERABLY SHORT! This seems to be the most efficient method of maintaining a constant high speed. 30 or 60 seconds aren't unreasonable and can be wonderfully fluid, but 2 or 3 minutes can work also. Occasionally if someone is tiring they can pull off before their pull time is up, but no one pulls longer than the designated time.

2) Conversely, in groups of mixed abilities and/or late in the ride when several riders may be tiring, pull length can be proportional to strength/endurance. This rarely has the smoothly choreagraphed beauty of a regularly rotating paceline, but I've seen a number of times where it saved some riders from getting dropped. (Or MediVac'd.)
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Old 04-23-07, 08:33 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by shogun17
If a rider is hanging on to the back and is clearly not hurting or working, go ahead and make a gesture or say something because it is only polite to share work when able.
My newest hobby (in the training races) is popping these guys off the back. I like to pull to the approach of a hill, then go to the back, in front of one of these guys. When the hill hits, I very gradually gap the group, taking him with me. When they're a good 50M up, I'll attack (zig-zagging to get a clean drop) and leave him back in the wind.
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Old 04-23-07, 09:00 AM   #25
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golden rule - never overlap wheels
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