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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The thread in the general forum about the etiquite of joining in another's paceline has me wondering - what is the correct way to signal glass, potholes, etc when you're pulling?

Someone in that forum indicated that yelling it out isn't the right way but that seems a lot safer than giving a hand signal and assuming everyone else sees it.

This will be my first spring time on my road bike and I'm looking forward to riding in a paceline (my wife just isn't fast enough). I don't want to cause any problems for other riders though.
 

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You're Not the Boss of Me
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Yup, point. The only time I don't point is when (for road conditions or whatever) it will compromise handling or do something screwy.

The whole pace line doesn't need to see your signal; just the rider or two behind you. They should signal also, and it should move down the train...
 

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boroef said:
point to the garbage as it comes up so other riders behind u know.
I don't understand this constant pointing of obstacles. If you're at the front, your job is to choose a line that's safe and leave enough space for everyone to get by. If you're cutting it so close that you need to point, you've already failed your responsibility. There are times where you don't see things until the last second or there isn't enough room to leave enough space, but these should be the exception, not the rule.
 

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You're making the assumption that everyone's riding a nice tight single pace line.

When you're riding a double or rotating pacellne, often times there isn't enough space to move everyone over, It's always good to point things out and also give a verbal warning. In an ideal world, you would seldom point out hazards but many of us live in areas with tons of potholes, glass, and debris which require all require warning when riding in a pack.
 

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Basically agree

asgelle said:
I don't understand this constant pointing of obstacles. If you're at the front, your job is to choose a line that's safe and leave enough space for everyone to get by. If you're cutting it so close that you need to point, you've already failed your responsibility. There are times where you don't see things until the last second or there isn't enough room to leave enough space, but these should be the exception, not the rule.
I agree. Unfortunately, some people seem to just graze the hazard and not even point them out. No matter how many times you ask for "a little leadership" they just can't get on top of the concept. However, there is a tendency for people to not move over quite as much as the leader, and if you're a few riders back, you can hit the hazard head on. Similarly, if there's traffic, then a little visual warning is helpful when it's every rider for themselves.
 

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why yelling is stupid

If you're going any sort of speed, the riders behind can't hear you with the wind in their ears. Worse, it takes much more brain processing. For example I once was passing a group of Team In Training riders, and the lead rider saw a lump of cement on the ground and called out "lump". The riders behind had to : 1. figure out that "lump" meant an obstacle. 2. that the obstacle was on the ground. and 3. where it was, so they could avoid it. By the time your brain's figured all that out you're a ways down the road.

Pointing eliminates steps 1 and 2 and tells you #3. What the obstacle is is less important than where it is, so you can avoid hitting it. The only reason for yelling out obstacles if if you can't take a hand off the bars to point (i.e. you were suprised).

Around here there are four basic hand signals for obstacles- pointing down for stationary road junk, making a wiggling motion with the fingers for glass or similar road junk that you could rider over but may not want to, pointing out away at cars that may open their doors or pull into the road in front of the group, and waving the group over to the left or holding the hand up and pointing down to indicate a slower rider on the right that is being passed. Riders in your area may have different signals but they should be obvious.
 

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Moderatus Puisne
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And, when necessary -- but not to the point of irritation -- "Car up!" is useful.

Oh, and if it's behind you, it's "Car back."

I had a guy recently say "car down," which sounded far too much like "rider down..."
 

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responsibility

I never realized that riding at the front of a paceline made you responsible for the safe passage of everyone behind you.

also, riding in a tight group, where everyone is yelling "rock", "gravel", "bump", "left", "right", etc. adds very little value. so a guy in front of me yells "rock", he could be directly in front of me, diagnol right/left or beside me. in can be very hard to tell who said what. to the point where I often end up justing riding my line and playing the odds that the obstacle is not right in front of me.
 

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the lead guy needs to point obsticals out. simply moving to the side won't fly. The word here is Echlon. Another word is Traffic. often the lead guy can't manuver far enough to get the whole group away from the obstical and still remain safe to potental traffic behind. (no time to look back) as for signals, what I use and what i've seen a lot of...

simple one finger pointing to what side the obstical will be, not a turn signal, but 20 degrees off straight down...

washed out road or gravel surface up, = open hand, palm down and slow shake sideways. (like petting a dog)

breaking, for a light, traffic, whatever = similar to gravel but moving up and down like someone patting the head of a dog. Pretty universal sign to slow down.

If you must vocalize, (often this won't be heard) you must turn to face the other riders

Nothing does PR for bikers like an echlon streached across the road, be courtious to other road users. (even if they aren't to us)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for the replies everybody. It sounds like my best bet is to confirm what hand signals will be used by the group I'm with before I head out with them.
 

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bauerb said:
I never realized that riding at the front of a paceline made you responsible for the safe passage of everyone behind you.

Riding in the front of a paceline is indeed a huge responsibility vis-a-vis the safety of folks behind you. While you aren't the guarantor of all things, you can bet that any little hitch in your riding (swerve, braking, change in speeds, etc) will have an exaggerated "crack the whip" effect farther back.
 

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Anyone else use....

I use a "point and slice" motion (twice, if possible) for wide obstacles- like a stick laying accross the road, or wide crack or heck, even railroad tracks.

Some of us are doing our best to take a turn pulling, even while braindead exhausted-- sometimes I just screw up and miss things and signal too late- but it gives the person behind me at least some chance to avoid junk.

I think this is a great discussion- especially for spring. For example, I just saw the "Raise hand, point down" signal last week, and kinda wondered what it was... because until this season, I was always the guy they were pointing out.

'meat
 

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Guiding the paceline

bauerb said:
I never realized that riding at the front of a paceline made you responsible for the safe passage of everyone behind you.
Yup, it most definitely does. Only the rider on the front has a clear view of the road ahead, so it naturally becomes his/her responsibility to make sure that the path of the paceline clears obstacles as well as possible. (And, as others have mentioned, unfortunately many riders don't seem to understand this).

The lead rider should keep in mind that the following riders won't be following exactly behind, but might be a foot or so to either side. So the rider can't just clear the pothole by 4", they have clear it by at least a foot or more. In addition, the lead rider has to keep in mind that the following riders can't react instantly to changes in path, so the lead rider has to redirect the line as necessary well before the obstacle. If the lead rider does this well, the followers should be nearly unaware that they were avoiding the obstacle at all.

Granted, the lead rider can't always completely avoid road hazards. You can't ride around railroad tracks, for example. In those cases, they should lead the paceline through the best potential path, as well as signalling the obstruction to other riders. The signal will depend on the type of obstacle, as well the general practice used in that area. In the railroad track example, you'll probably have to vocally call out the tracks, since you can't really point at them. If the space is tight, and there's no room for the paceline to divert widely around the obstacle, then pointing at the obstacle is often the best you can - but that the real point of this action is to indicate the reason why everyone is squeezing over to one side or the other. But keep in mind that calling out or pointing to obstacles is typically a secondary option - it is best to guide the paceline well clear of the obstacle entirely, when possible.

Of course, there are times when there are so many bumps or obstacles that they can't all be avoided - as when riding down a rutted, rock strewn dirt road. In these cases, the lead rider should of course try to guide the paceline around the major obstacles, but trying to avoid or point out every single one can be counter-productive.

Believe me, if you're leading a paceline and you are heading directly at a raised utility cover, and the only action you take is to quickly swerve to side just in front of it (leaving the other riders to be caught unaware and plow into it), you won't be making any friends on that ride.
 

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Mark McM said:
Believe me, if you're leading a paceline and you are heading directly at a raised utility cover, and the only action you take is to quickly swerve to side just in front of it (leaving the other riders to be caught unaware and plow into it), you won't be making any friends on that ride.
That's too true. My martial arts instructor lost a bunch of teeth and broke his jaw (I think), and one of his riding partners broke his arm, I think, because their paceline was being led by a guy who didn't know it was his job to watch out for the rest of them. They were on a deserted MUT, really hauling, when they came up to a barricade where the full width of the trail had been dug up. The lead guy wasn't paying attention far enough ahead, and saw the obstacle with just barely enough time to swerve into the grass and crash there. Rider 2 (Master Brown) plowed into the barricade. He knows a thing or two about falling, so he landed without hurting himself too badly, until riders 3 and 4 came piling into him while he was on the ground, that is.

I signal a fair amount, but as Mark says, the best thing is to not try to thread the needle, but rather stay clear of the obstacles.

And even then, you should work out a signal with your group to alert them that you're going to need to slow down or stop. In my experience, sudden slowing at the front (even if you just stop cranking but don't brake) quickly leads to wheels overlapping and other problems in the back of the group.
 

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Im with dfleck as far as what I use. But again, there are some guys that point out everything, thats annoying and you start to ignore them... the whole chicken little effect. For the most part, its a pretty necessary evil here in this area as the roads aren't the best. With that being said, I point out only things of concern. Sand, buckled pavement, large obstacles, gravel, large potholes, ... the only one that I will add to his list is I will use a flat hand, like a karate chop hand and extend it down, move it forwards and backwards in a straight line if there is a groove or crack in the same direction of travel in the road or a nasty shoulder, like when the pavement has given way (but only in situations where we are having to ride gutter anyway.)...

So, its conditional, but also considerate. But beware of the group you are with. For some it is easy. But for some groups its dangerous. There have been times where we have been freaking CRAWLING up climbs and some guy feels like he has to point out a bananna peel or something and will veer suddenly away from his pointing hand.

Just be careful and point out things that are serious, dont overdo it. and don't buzz obstacles without first pointing them out.
 

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Seeing as this is the Beginner's Corner, I'd suggest to the Beginner's to keep their hands on the bars and shout.

beginner's are already squirrely enough :)

In the US i was used to a car up, car back and that was about it.

In Scotland they shout Tail (car back) or Nose (car up).

In the Netherlands they shout Auto voor (car up) Auto achter (car back) tegen (riders coming from the opposite direction) voor (passing a slow rider or pedestrian), then various other stuff like Paaltje (for a pole on a traffic island), drempel (traffic bump), etc.

In NYC, and in NL, when i was on group ride with friends, then i used hand signals. I'll point to signify potholes, or make a wavey motion with my hand to signify sand, or flip my arm in the opposite direction if there's a car coming, or to signify which side of a traffic island i'm going to ride on.

Normally the hand signals are used on slower rides, or good conditions.

When there's a big group, or it's wet, or windy, or both, or if it's getting fast, then i keep my hands firmly planted on my bars :)
 
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