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You're Not the Boss of Me
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Hmmmm. I don't just paceline with anyone because the hazards of being six inches off another's wheel at 25 mph are SERIOUS. But assuming that you are riding with experienced folks, the main "rules" you all should confirm before riding is having a standard signal for when the front rider is pulling off, and an agreed side (I prefer left and a tap on my own right hip, but every group has its quirks and the true pros don't signal in any distinctive way at all).

But assuming that this "group" is a mix of abilities just looking to hang together for fun, I wouldn't put together a true pace line during a major event like STP for the first time.

YMMV.
 

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It's all ball bearings
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my post cut 'n' pasted from a previous thread

cmatcan said:
some great advice here- surprisingly, though, group-riding skills/etiquette haven't really been touched on yet, so allow me:

-If you're relatively new to group riding, stay on the left side of the back, away from the curb. You'll stay more clear of pot-holes, dips in the pavement and debris, and you won't feel trapped between other riders and the curb.
-Don't overlap wheels when drafting. Keep your tire a bit to the left or right of the rider in front of you, but with your wheel 2 or 3 inches behind that rider's tire as well
-If you're leading a pack on a descent, DO NOT use more brake than absolutely necessary.
-Keep your upper body loose and relaxed- if you're squeezing the life outta your bars with tension, youre not able to pull off quick direction-changes
-Point out pot holes, garbage, w/e, when in a pack. This is not so much a courtesy as a necessity when those behind you can't see the road.
-Don't freak out when other riders bump into you lightly while riding, this is normal. Some more experienced riders may literally "push" you on a tough climb. accept the help gratefully.
-If riding in a pack with riders next to you on either side, it's safest to have your bars immediately adjacent to either their bars or their hips. As the above post said, don't worry about knocking bars, elbows, or hips with your neighbor.

-Avoid using brakes when in a paceline/pack at all. If you need to slow down, sit up taller, or move out to the side slightly and allow the airstream to slow you down.

-Pass along any messages you receive from the front to the guy behind you. For instance, if someone up front shouts "pothole", pass the message along by shouting "pothole" to the riders behind you. Same thing goes for pointing at hazards.

-If you need to spit in a paceline/pack, spit down between your arm and your thigh, NOT out to the side.

-Learn to remove and replace your water bottle from/to its cage by feel without looking down.

-When it's your turn to pull at the front of a paceline, don't suddenly speed up so that your riders can't hang on. Maintain the pace that the line had before you started pulling (unless, of couse, you are in a race and you want to make an attack straight off the front). You can gradually increase your speed when pulling if the line wants to pick up the pace.

-Pull for a minimum of 10 seconds, but don't pull for longer than you feel you are capable of sustaining.

-At the front, you are the eyes of the paceline. Warn riders behind you of hazards by calling out the hazard and pointing to it (pothole, gravel, storm drain, etc). Also call out and sudden slows, stops, and turns.

-When you are done with your pull, look back over your shoulder to make sure nobody is gonna be in your way when you peel off to the side. Peel off when it's clear. If necessary, you can give a "wave" or a flick with your elbow to signal the rider behind you to pass or take over.

-When you are at the back, call out "car back" when a car is approaching from behind. Also, when the next rider peels of the front and joins the back, tell him "last rider" or just "last" to let him know that he needs to get on your wheel.

-The back of the paceline requires the second most amount of work, after the front. It's easy for a newb to fall off the back if he's not on the ball. Stick close to the guy in front of you and stay on point.
 

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Here's a link to an article from a local bike shop web site with suggestions for group riding etiquette and pace lines:

http://www.thespincycle.com/events.asp?level1=GroupTechniques

BenWa's list is good. A couple of points I would emphasize are:

-- The biggest mistake I see w/ inexperienced group riders (and some experienced) is pushing the pace too hard when it's their turn to pull. The goal is to maintain a fast, consistent pace that everyone in the group can maintain. Too often newbies will speed up the pace too quickly when they get their pull and blow the paceline apart, dropping people off the back. The aim is to keep the group together, not show everyone what a stud you are. It's better to ride a little too slow and than too fast.

-- Safety should always be the top concern in pacelines. The person in front should point out obstacles such potholes, gravel, sticks, etc., in plenty of time so the cyclists in back have time to react. Never overlap wheels and pay very close attention to other cyclists around you, to the side, etc. Don't brake suddenly unless it's absolutely necessary. Eg., if you aren't paying attention and don't see a pothole in time to avoid it, it's better to ride through it rather than slam on your brakes.

-- Keep a line. Don't be swerving back and forth all over the place. Don't make sudden, jerky moves to the side.

-- Keep a steady pace. Accelerate and slow down smoothly and gradually.

-- If you are having trouble keeping up with a group, either ask them to slow down, stay at the back of the line, or drop off the back. You are endangering everyone by riding over your limits to the point where you aren't paying attention, lapping wheels, etc.

-- If you are a good climber, keep in mind that others might not be able to maintain your pace on long or steep climbs. Either back it off, or agree to wait up for slower riders at the top of the climb. Also, do your share of work on the downhills. I see many good climbers that totally suck on downhills. Us heavy guys gain a lot of momentum on the downhills, which helps up make it up the next climb. Nothing irks me more than skinny little climber dudes who fly up the hills, dropping everyone, and then lollgag on the downhills making everyone behind them brake, and then kick it again at the bottom of the next climb. Skinny little climbers ought to be working as hard on the downhills as us heavy guys do on the uphills.
 

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your god hates me
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BenWA said:
-If you need to spit in a paceline/pack, spit down between your arm and your thigh, NOT out to the side.


Um, sorry, but no one *needs* to spit...not in a paceline, not standing on a subway platform, not even in the dentist's chair. It's a choice. Usually a thoughtless one.

Alright, I guess if you're sucking rattlesnake poison out of a partner's leg you need to spit...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Howdy,
yes thank you all for the info.. For clarity, I'm told most of the group has ridden in a paceline before, but not as the current team. My concern as the Leader is making sure I have the rules straight should a debate ensue. We will have one or two newbs and they will require a few lectures on the matter. The lectures is where I suspect the differences of opinion to occur. Thus my question of the where abouts of a Authoritative Standard Rules.
 

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hey tarwheel, why didnt you pull the paceline suggestions off the tarwheels page... or am i missing something. I thought they were pretty well thought out.

I have probably ridden with you. If you see a heavyish guy on a blue and black marin.. thats me!
 

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TWD
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location?

if you are in Seattle you might want to take anyone not experienced to one of the cascade bike groups paceline training classes cascade.org
Lamar has given some very informative classes this spring, might be another one before STP

Although terribly useful I wouldn't try any paceline training until you could find a nice level stretch without traffic ... no sure this is possible on stp? Maybe get together with the non paceliners for some quick training, an hour plus would be the minimal i would think
 

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Big is relative
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Having done the STP three times I can tell you that you won't know most of the people in your paceline about an hour into the ride. IMHO, the best thing to do is get together a core group to riders and stick together. Even if the paceline is 70 riders long, when you roll off of the front, look for a gap in the line and pull in. When your next core rider rolls off, have them politely ask to get behind you in the line and so on for each member. You will have the peace of mind knowing who is infront of and behind you most of the time. Most experienced riders don't have a problem letting someone in a paceline. Stay in the front dozen riders to minimize your "slinky effect" when the speed varies for no apparent reason.
 

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Let me add- don't open up gaps in the line. If you can't hang with the pace, signal and pull out of the line gracefully, don't blow in the middle of the line and sit up- instantly opening a 5-10 bike gap and causing everyone to have to sprint around you to try and close the huge gap you opened up.

Also NO FRICKIN' AEROBAR USE IN A PACELINE--- EVER!!! Under penalty of severe beatdown. Grrrrrr!!

:mad2: :nono:
 

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I occasionally ride with a group that has some fairly strong riders and most are very nice guys, but they totally miss the whole paceline thing. They don't get it or don't care. Riding with them can be frustrating because the paceline is always breaking up. Here's what they do wrong:

-- Strong riders stay at the front way too long, pushing a pace that is unsustainable for many in the group.
-- Riders never pull off the front. Instead, when the pace starts to slow, someone from the back (in no particular order) comes around from behind and takes the lead.

I avoid riding with this group because their paceline skills are frustrating and dangerous. The strong riders think they have to continually prove to everyone else how strong they are, and the group as a whole suffers. It's also very dangerous having riders at random come around from the back to take the lead. Finally, most of the riders would probably end up with a higher average speed at the end of the ride if they just stuck together in a paceline. Some people just don't get it.
 

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Squirrel Hunter
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Steaming Bowl of Chili

Smooth, Predictable, Communicate... the cornerstones of a safe paceline.

When in a paceline simply imagine you are driving to a church potluck dinner with a hot bowl of chili in your lap while wearing your Sunday best. Your wife is following in her car wearing the brand new dress you just spent a fortune on with a steaming bowl of chili in her lap too. Smooth, predictable and communication will be the key to not spilling the chili, ruining your fancy clothes and burning your daddy and mommy parts.

Remember that every paceline has its own set of rules so if you hook up with another group they may have different rules and signals then the ones you learned initially. Not all communication is verbal and I have often been in some very fast pacelines with lots of communication taking place and not a single word is spoken.

In addition to the good advice so far a couple more links:
http://roadbikerider.com/articles2.htm#How to Ride in a Paceline
http://www.roble.net/marquis/group_ride.tips

bigbill said:
...IMHO, the best thing to do is get together a core group to riders and stick together...
If you have 6-10 riders in your group you do not need anyone else in your paceline when doing a large ride like STP. Let anyone that wants to tag on the back but never allow a foriegner into your tightknit group. Some things that help is if you all wear the same jersey or perhaps hang a small matching flag from your saddles - basically let people know that these 10 riders are together as a group.

Designate a gatekeeper who will not be in the rotation but will basically sit at the back of your group and keep any Klingons from trying to jump in the rotation. The gatekeeper should have a slightly abrasive personality and not be afraid when some moron thinks he must take his turn. When a rider in your group pulls off the front the gatekeeper will drift back just a bit and signal the retireing rider when to pull in front of him. The gatekeeper will also need to keep an eye out for someone who wants to "pull from the back" and tries to shoot up the side to "take his turn" at the front. Simply tell the upcoming person to stay out of your paceline, they are welcome to draft behind the gatekeeper or go up the road solo, just not jump in front of one of your team.

Remind the rest of your group that if any foreigners try to get in simply tell them No. If you are working hard and moving fast the only thing one of these foreigners can do is muck up your rotation or worse clip a wheel and take down your buddies. A freindly comment to most riders will suffice but you will usually get a couple of idiots that ignore you and say its a public road. Often times on these big rides I had my son on the back of the tandem and my wife drafting our wheel. Someone would always want to draft the tandem and try to take her wheel away. She would tell them that she paid for the tandem wheel so she gets to draft it. Woe be to the person who chose to ignore her and not give up the tandem draft that belonged to her.
 

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It's all ball bearings
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Travis said:
if you are in Seattle you might want to take anyone not experienced to one of the cascade bike groups paceline training classes cascade.org
Lamar has given some very informative classes this spring, might be another one before STP
Is this the same as Cycle U? I know that Cycle U has paceline classes and is somehow associated with Cascade.

www.cycleu.com
 

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I'm relatively new to group road riding, but the comments about quirks of individual groups is right on the money. Communication & cooperation are key.
About 20 mi into a recent metric I found myself in a pack of my club's riders together on a decent paceline (21-22mph). I happened to be at the front when we crossed a state highway and climbed a good hill. After the next downhill, 3 riders called out to slow to allow regrouping. I complied and gradually slowing to 19, and we regrouped. One rider from the back then blows by and yells "Never slow down when you're at the front!!!". Clearly different riders in that pack had different expectations of me when riding lead in that circumstance. Needless to say, that was the last pull I did in that group. Found another peloton to join for the remainder of the metric. BTW- ended up finishing well ahead of the hot-head & his dysfunctional group.
 

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tarwheel2 said:
I occasionally ride with a group that has some fairly strong riders and most are very nice guys, but they totally miss the whole paceline thing. They don't get it or don't care. Riding with them can be frustrating because the paceline is always breaking up. Here's what they do wrong:

-- Strong riders stay at the front way too long, pushing a pace that is unsustainable for many in the group.
-- Riders never pull off the front. Instead, when the pace starts to slow, someone from the back (in no particular order) comes around from behind and takes the lead.

I avoid riding with this group because their paceline skills are frustrating and dangerous. The strong riders think they have to continually prove to everyone else how strong they are, and the group as a whole suffers. It's also very dangerous having riders at random come around from the back to take the lead. Finally, most of the riders would probably end up with a higher average speed at the end of the ride if they just stuck together in a paceline. Some people just don't get it.
Sounds a lot like most of the group rides in Sandy Eggo... No clue about pacelines in the 9 years I rode there!

My thoughts:
Its not my job to speed up to get to the front, its the recovering line's job to slow SLIGHTLY so that I can maintain the pace and just pull over when I get past the rider I'm relieving's front wheel.

If you've got a paceline working at the front of a group of people who aren't pulling thru, station one guy back there to sh!thook and let the rotating riders back in at the front of the mob.

If you must spit, snot, drink, whatever, do it at the back of the line.

Learn to sh!thook if you can't pull thru. Don't give up on the paceline, just don't get in the way either. Yes, sh!thooking takes some skillz.

If you're in and out of the paceline, MAKE SURE that the people in your immediate vicinity know your intentions. I know I get used to being behind rider X and generally make sure I'm ready to go when they move off to either the pulling line or after a pull to the recovery line. If you're in and out, I may get cornfused and do something wrong just by doing what I HAD been doing before you jumped in (or out!)

If the wind's coming from the right, the recovering riders pull right to shelter the pulling riders as long as possible. Reverse that if the wind's coming from the left. No, you don't always pull off to the same side! Sometimes you'll have to change mid-ride!

Form an echelon to whatever side the wind's coming from if you have the room. It helps.

Oh, its not constant speed, its constant EFFORT. That means you slow slightly going uphill/into a headwind, etc. That way, everyone can still hang together.

IME a paceline (or echelon) is about the coolest thing to make work. X number of guys/gals working together smoothly is a joy to ride in. A badly done paceline sux just as badly as a good one makes me happy.

HTH,

M
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Ahhh, thanks TarWheel2 that is what I'm looking for! Thanks to the others who had links and good advice. The one post that caught my eye was MShaw - I like the "Sh!thook" job!
:thumbsup: I haven't heard that term before.

We ride Redmond, Fall City, Duval etc. for 70 miles in the morning! We will be split into 3 groups Fast 1 day, Slow 1 day, and 2 day for STP. Yes, we will all be wearing matching jerseys - Voler is printing them up this week. My job is to whip the 2 day folks into some sort of paceline. The gap will start at 4 feet and if we are lucky we will squeeze it to 4 inches before STP - 12 inches is my target. I'll keep you folks posted.
 
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