More on Pacelines
From the F l o r i d a Fr e e w h e e l e r s newsletter page – 5 see link below…
The primary advantage of riding in a paceline (basically riding single-file) is increasing your speed without expending additional energy. How ever pacelines also enhance safety, camaraderie and the ability to ride longer distances. The concept is that wind resistance is your enemy (as much as 40% of your energy is spent overcoming wind resistance) and by following someone close behind you can use less energy. Of course the person in front will be doing most of the work so you trade off turns at the front so that every one gets a break. To participate in a paceline, you must be able to ride in a straight line, maintain a steady pace and have good bike handling skills.
Beneficial Effects of Drafting
Wheel Gap & Decrease in Resistance
6” >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 44%
12” >>>>>>>>>>>>>> 42%
24” >>>>>>>>>>>>>> 38%
36″ >>>>>>>>>>>>>> 34%
Keep the distance between bikes at 12 to 24 inches. The closer the better – but a tighter line requires
more practice, skill and concentration. While professional racers often ride within a few inches of each
other, it is neither practical nor safe for most of us. At 12 to 24 inches you can maintain an effective, yet
safe, margin. Never get closer to the wheel in front of you than your ability to respond to any situation
allows. If your wheel “kisses” the wheel in front of you, you (and the riders behind you) will all “go down”. The rider in front of you usually does not. [You must maintain a line of sight 1 - 3 riders in front of you so that you can respond fast.]
Don’t make sudden moves! They endanger others. Beginners should not ride directly behind a wheel; stay an inch or two to the side. Never overlap another rider’s rear wheel. That way, if there’s a sudden deceleration, you can avoid kissing the wheel in front of you. You will also have a better view of the up-coming road. Soft Pedal (no coasting!): This is pedaling without applying a lot of force to the pedals. This keeps your pedaling motion going and prevents you from unintended acceleration when you go from motionless to pedaling again. It also prevents the person behind you from being startled.
Minimize the use of your brakes, by watching and planning ahead. Braking slows down the line. Then you, and everyone behind you, must expend energy to close the gap with the front of the line. This wastes energy – instead of braking, anticipate. Good drafting depends on smooth, even pedaling. If you pedal and coast, pedal and coast, you’ll find yourself getting too close to your partner or too far back. Keep the crank turning and use slightly more or less pedaling force to maintain a constant speed. It is the lead rider’s responsibility to avoid and alert others to road problems. Because the group follows his/her line, the leader must either point to a problem, or call out the nature of the obstacle, while avoiding it. Common call outs include “glass, hole, stopping, slowing, gravel, road kill, and runner up”. These warnings must be passed down the pace line by each rider. When the line passes a single rider, or another group, the lead rider and the rest of the paceline should announce themselves as they pass by calling out “left” or “on your left”. [Pointing at most obstacles is best as calling things out becomes distorted by the time the call reaches the back of the line. Some things must be called!]
How long you stay on the front depends on your comfort level. “Never stay out front to the point of exhaustion.” You must retain enough energy to both catch on to the line when you peal off and to hold on afterwards at the back. The front rider checks over his/her shoulder for traffic, drifts a couple of feet to one side and slows slightly by soft-pedaling. Flipping your elbow/fist is a common signal. [This keeps your hands on the bars for safety] The next replacement leader must continue at the same/current speed. Glance at your cycle computer to make sure your speed stays steady. When you are parallel to the last rider, accelerate slightly so you can move to the right and grab onto the line without expending additional energy. Now you can safely rest while being “carried along”. Eventually the lead rider will pull off and drift back behind you. This is called rotating the lead. [Please do not take long pulls, everyone wants a change of scenery. 1 or 2 min. at the front is fine. Or if you want count 5 to 10 pedal strokes and pull off. You know how you feel]
It is not poor etiquette for weaker riders to skip a turn or to avoid “pulling” completely. The stronger riders will understand that you are doing all you can to just “hold on”. However, if you are capable of taking your turn and fail to do so, you have
committed a major breach of etiquette. This will annoy the other riders big time. Basically, you’d be sitting back while others pull you along. A person who won’t take a turn at the front is not so affectionately known as a “wheel sucker “. [As mentioned just pull through even if for a short time.]
The essence of a paceline is to take turns at the front of a single-file line of cyclists, maintain an agreed upon speed (the current one), and then move to the left, Then and only then slow down slightly, as the other riders pass you. You then “grab on” to the last rider’s wheel and rest in the “draft”. A paceline is also useful when “riding into the wind” as it gives you a periodic rest from the work of pushing through a headwind. A paceline also enhances safety, as it forces the riders into a single line along the right side of the road. Keep approximately 12’ – 18” away from the right pavement line. This will allow you room to move over should it become necessary. [ you can keep a line of sight in your Peripheral Vision to the edge of the road in relation to your bars. This is also used while looking ahead 2 - 3 riders. Remember keep your head up. If you look down all the time you make small adjustments and will move around for no real reason. Look forward and use Peripheral Vision.]
Drinking and Foreign Substances: It’s best to get a drink when you’re at the back of the line, so you won’t mess someone else up if you swerve while swigging you favorite tonic (or if you drop your bottle). Eat, drink and make any adjustments when you are the last rider in line.