I was on a ride, and we started a paceline. How this happened was random, we were going along single-file then the guy on the front ‘slowly’ pulled off the line by easing to his left (since we were on the right hand side of the road) clear of the next rider, then slowed down slightly (just a mile or 2 per hour). The next rider keeps the same effort that the original rider had that was pulling the group, but decided he didn’t want to pull the whole time, so he slowly pulled over, allowing the next rider to come through and do his share of the work.
Suddenly, we had a paceline going, and as it became my turn to pull through the rider in front of me was less experienced (not a problem) he pulled through well, but after he eased off the paceline he didn’t slow down. Now since I was maintaining the same speed/effort for the group I was not passing him – he soon looked to see why not and once he realized it, he slowed down slightly to allow us to pass him, and continue the paceline.
This is 1 of the most common mistakes by novice riders, to either pull through too hard and/or not slow down or to pull for too long and running out of energy and not pulling off the front to allow other riders to continue the rotation.
The 2nd biggest mistake (and more dangerous) is that when a rider is down with their pull, they swing wildly to the side to allow the next rider to come through…. unless you are on the veldrome or your a lead out man for a Pro sprinter, you should not do this. It is just too drastic of a swing to the side, and again others are counting on you to be a safe rider.
If the group is doing a consistent paceline there is no reason to signal that you are pulling off the paceline, each rider knows everyone is doing a pace-line. Just slowly ease to the side as you pass the rider that was ahead of you, this gives the next rider a smooth transition from drafting you, to pulling the rest of the riders. And when you do it smoothly the rider that you are passing should get plenty of time to adjust their speed to comfortably start drafting from you with out any random moves.
When riders do or have to make drastic changes in direction or ‘lines’ that they are taking is a main cause of accidents in a group. Unexpected movements is dangerous to the other riders around you, try to minimize them. When each rider in a group moves around the road smoothly accidents are minimized because where each rider is going becomes obvious.
Although it is the responsibility of each rider to not hit the rider ahead of them, it is also good to keep in mind that you have other’s well being in your hands based on your actions. No one is perfect, but there are some riders I will avoid or go around ASAP! Yet, there are some riders that I have no problem drafting behind them as long as possible.
The steadier and consistent of a rider you are, the more respect you will gain from other riders because no one wants a cyclist ahead of them that is unpredictable!