How to paceline

A few weeks ago, I was doing a road ride with the Wednesday night group. We were rolling down the road with a rotating pace-line. As we got to a slight downhill, I noticed that some riders that I hadn’t seen at the front suddenly hopped into the pace-line – but instead of keeping things smooth, it suddenly got all messed up. Riders were either pulling too hard through the pace-line or riders were pulling up to the front rider, and NOT pulling through.

It was like they got themselves to the front of the group ride and suddenly realized they were in a little over their head, and didn’t know how to get themselves out of it. So, I attempted (in a helpful tone) to get them to move over to the left and allow the rotation to continue again.

I have read several articles that tell you how you are supposed to do a paceline, but I think they all miss the mark for 1 important reason:

The paceline is an ever changing thing, and you have to adapt accordingly.

There isn’t always a proper rotation.
1) The lead rider should gradually pull off the front – no sudden side motions. (also, there is no need to point if you make your movements gradually and steady).

2) The lead rider should pull off into the Headwind.

3) Once the lead rider pulls off the front, they should also gradually and slightly reduce intensity and speed to allow the next rider to pull in front of them and then draft off the next rider (assuming a consistent rotating paceline) – think of it from an over-head view, the cyclists going through the paceline should draw an oval, not a rectangle.

A good video example:

4) If there is no headwind then it doesn’t matter which way the paceline rotates. Sometimes you will pull through and no one will be behind you, and suddenly the pack is single-file with you at the front. You can continue your effort if you like, and wait until someone pulls through allowing you to draft, or you can simply flick your elbow and ease back to the other side of the road, hoping that the rider who is now behind you will pull through. If he does, then the paceline has just switched rotation.

There isn’t always a specific amount of time on the front.
Generally in the U.S. we keep a steady rotating paceline, so as soon as you are at the front, you gradually begin to slide over in front of the next rider – this allows the rider being passed to adjust speed to get into your draft, and it allows the next rider in the paceline to adjust intensity to keep the pace steady.

If your group wants each rider to ride at the front for a longer period of time then the intensity of the effort will have to be your gauge for how long you stay on the front. This should allow the weaker rider to rotate off the front sooner, and the stronger rider to stay on the front longer.

All of these things may change on the fly – and being able to adapt is what is important. And always remember that your actions will cause reactions to those behind you, and visa versa, so be steady and as predictable as possible.
When pacelines run smoothly it is the Faster Cycling way for a group to ride together!

I am a Pusher

Yes, I am a Pusher, a pusher of many things including:
A) health
B) outdoors lifestyle
C) good food
D) adult beverages
E) more Ladies in cycling

I got pretty upset and heated this weekend at the WBL. This past weekend was the Ladies only Sprint of the WBL. After about 75 miles in the saddle – the women were called to the front of the pack.

I was lucky enough to be near the front of the field as 100 or more riders hooted and hollered at the 5 woman sprint that took place to all manner of encouragement and cat-calls to the extent of wondering if they were sprinting or mud-wrestling?

After the women’s sprint I watched guys go around a chic that had been in the sprint. She had put out a solid effort & was now not quite up to the accelerations of the pack. I was giving her a push when needed…. keeping her intact with the field, not unlike the assistance that was given me last week . Yet still I noticed something that was rather disturbing & I couldn’t help but be curious and yet disappointed at the same time…..

Why do guys pass a chic that are in a spot of bother? Here we are, in a major sword fight amongst each other and yet when a lady does show up to a big ride, she is passed up like a weaker species. Why? Because the guys think they will get dropped if they help, or because chics wanted to be treated just like another rider. Well, I’ve been dropped on many rides in my lackluster career of cycling & let me tell you it is frustrating & humiliating… to put it another way – it just sucks!

That’s why I’m a pusher. Ever since I dated a chic in the peleton that would occasionally be put into the hurt locker, I learned that assisting the fairer sex was a noble experience that gave me A) a better workout and B) kept them coming out to the rides.

Have you not heard the infamous story of Mario Cipollini at the Tour de Georgia…. His favorite English words were ‘PUSH’ and ‘I love America (women)’.

There were 2 chics that had boyfriends there this weekend that when the ‘vacation real estate’ (drafting) wasn’t enough they got just enough of a nudge as to keep them in the game. Their guys were both veterans of the Pro1,2 field. Guess what impressed the ladies – that the guy put the hammer down and nearly dropped them, or that the guy took care of a chic.

Besides, I would rather we have more ladies in the field of guys! You think I like riding for 70+ miles & looking at your butt?! NO! Put a female in front of me & I will keep her ‘behind’ in front of mine. And if you like having the fairer sex along for the ride, I suggest you do the same, in a gentlemanly fashion.
I’ve assisted chics that ‘wanted to do it on their own’ & I totally respect that. She said “I got it, thanks”. No problem, You go girl! But, fella’s please don’t hinder their experience, nor their enjoyment of riding in a group…..

I’ve seen guys move-up and purposely push a chic out of a paceline, so they could get ahead of her. I’ve seen guys sprint just to get around chics after a turn, I’ve seen guys let a chic pull on the front of the pack, only to attack after they pull off.

Guess who is the weaker rider now?

I would not do this to a rider that wasn’t comfortable or steady on their bike – but they usually aren’t in our groups anyway. To give a little assistance to anyone, all I do is, usually downshift into a harder gear because I want to mash more, place my hand on or just above the back pockets. Now I can do 2 things. 1) Pedal faster while pushing, which will raise both our speeds. 2) give a steady push of that person, which speeds them up, but slows me down.

The biggest mistake is to push in any direction other than straight forward. Usually if you push forward all the rider has to do keep their handle bars straight, look straight ahead and they will get a nice little boost of speed. And it is amazing the difference 1-2 mph will make when you are coming unglued at the back of a group. Again, make sure the rider is comfortable with the push before you do it, everyone is safer that way.

Faster cycling by pace-lining

Want to ride faster while lowering your heart rate? Then pace-lining is what you need.

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.

Team Time Trial

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!