Sunday, April 12, 2009

Friendly Reminder: Paceline Etiquette

One thing that I love about the popularity of fixed gears is that it has acted as a gateway drug to get a new generation into cycling. Roadbiking appeals to many but there is also a whole world out there who may normally view roadies as spandex clad assholes. Sometimes rightly so. Fixed gears generally appeal to a different crowd. I can name a ton of guys I ride with that wouldn't have considered getting on a road bike had it not been from their exposure to the streets via a track bike. It's introducing a whole new breed of roadie to the world. One thing I also realized is that a lot of these guys havent had a lot of exposure to proper road bike technique and Paceline Etiquette.

Pacelines are a big part of cycling. By riding in a paceline, a group can "keep its speed consistently higher than any single member of the group could maintain on his or her own. This efficiency is possible because it is as much as 30% easier to ride behind someone, where the wind resistance is considerable lower."

"Here are some general rules for riding in a paceline. They are not the last word in pacelining but if you know these then you know a good bit. There is no mention of echelons etc.

•Ride at an even speed (constant effort).
•Try not to use your brakes. Sit up or move out of the draft some to catch some air to slow your speed.
•If you must brake feather your rear brake to slow you smoothly.
•Never brake when at the front of a paceline.
•Do not coast or soft pedal at the front of a paceline.
•Wiggle your arm to signal that you are moving off the front. The arm that you wiggle indicates the side that you wish the following riders to pass you on.
•Keep pedaling as you move off the front. Don't stop or slow your cadence until the following rider has begun to pull through.
•When assuming the front of a paceline, keep your speed constant. Do not accelerate rapidly!
•Don't open Gaps! Keep the paceline tight.
•If someone accelerates to open a gap, do not jump to close the gap (except when racing), close it slowly, the riders behind you will appreciate you.
•Keep about a 1 to 2 foot gap between you and the leading rider.
•Don't overlap wheels. If the rider you are following moves to hit your wheel, you will crash, not the other rider.
•If you contact wheels, turn your wheel towards the wheel of the rider in front. If you turn away you will go down quickly.
•If your handlebars or bodies touch a rider next to you, don't turn away; relax and keep your bike straight.
•Don't make any sudden moves.
•Don't ride too close to the edge of the road, Leave a ~foot to the right side when possible.
•Look at the middle of the rider's back in front of you and toward the front of the paceline. Do not stare at the wheel in front of you. If you stare at the wheel you can't react to things around you.
•When re-entering the paceline from the back, begin pedaling when about 2 or three riders from the back to increase your speed and move smoothly into the line. Don't wait until you're at the back. If you wait you'll have to jump to catch the group.
•Don't pull too hard at the front when racing or riding fast. Save enough energy to get back on the paceline.
•When standing, don't throw your bike back. You may hit the rider behind you.
•If you are too tired or weak to do your turn at the front of the paceline, don’t pull at the front. Just rotate smoothly through without disrupting the group's pace. Then sit at the back about 1 bike length and let others fill in the space.
•Learn to trust the wheel in front of you and ride that track. Too often riders will sit off to one side or another. This makes the pace line inefficient and look ragged.
•Don’t use your aerobars in a paceline. Save them for a solo ride or time trial."

Also, call out "car back!" when there's an overtaking vehicle. This is especially important on narrow roads when the group is in a double paceline (2 abreast). Riders need time to move over or ease up to let the car pass. In general, since we ride on roads with traffic it's never a good idea to ride more than 2 abreast. There's not enough room on the road and it makes drivers mad if we take too much of the road. "Car Back" is more than just a warning. It means DO SOMETHING. Move over and encourage others to do so as well.


clintpatty said...

and note that you shouldn't expect occasional fixed gear riders on a road bike to hold a line like a cat 1 racer, or hold a line in a turn at all for that matter if they're on a fixed gear

beardsarefun said...

ha, we definitely don't have any cta1 guys amongst the group. Some guys just don't know the "rules" - i don't expect everyone to be flawless as i'm certainly not. This was more of a "this is what we are eventually shooting for" type of post. Honestly, everyone did fine and we just fell into our natural pace. Stronger guys pulled more and helped the others make it and it was a lot of fun. I agree that we should have had a slower roll out but i wasn't leading.

UAH Cycling Team said...

The irony there is that cat 1 racers DONT hold a steady line. Those packs are constantly shifting and moving. Although, unlike the rookies, they dont swerve dramatically (usually), they just move around a lot, usually easy to tell where theyre going though