Bicycling in and around Sullivan County, NY

Proper Pacelining
by Andrew Kalter

Beginner – Advanced Pacelining Tips

Riding in an efficient, consistent paceline can easily add 1-5 mph to an average speed.  These tips and etiquette rules are based on a group that is trying to remain  together in a smooth, efficient paceline.

Pacelining Tips and Etiquette:
  1. The distance between bikes is determined by the comfort and consistency of the group.  Closer is better for efficiency but also more dangerous.
  2. If you are leading the group avoid holes and road debris by one foot if traffic permits.  This gives the person in the back of the line enough room.
  3. When it is your turn to be up front and “pull” keep the speed/effort consistent.
  4. When you pull off it is your responsibility to slow down so the new lead person does not need to speed up.
  5. When you stand up, keep your cadence smooth and move forward on the bike gradually so as not to lose too much distance.  Please practice this!
  6. Predict when the person in front of you will stand and give enough room in case the bike drops back.
  7. Don’t ride perfectly in-line with the rider in front of you.  Try to be an inch or so to the left or right.  This will give you better visibility and if there is an abrupt change of pace you will have more time to react.
  8. Never overlap your front wheel with another rider’s back wheel.  The person guilty of this is the one who crashes.
  9. Predict pace changes by looking and thinking ahead.  Speed will increase on downhills and decrease on uphills and at intersections.
  10. If you are too tired to pull through you still need to take a turn at the front to keep a smooth paceline.  Pull off after 2 seconds if necessary but keep the pace smooth.
  11. If the person behind you yells “Pull Off” it probably means that you have slowed down and should pull off.  Don’t hog the front.
  12. Leave extra space between bikes when going through stop signs, traffic lights, and busy intersections.  If you are up front it is your responsibility to slow the pace gradually and give a short distance after the intersection at an easier pace to allow everyone to tighten up the gaps.  Once the gaps are closed, accelerate gradually back up to speed.

Pacelining Strategy:
  1. If you are tired/hurting never take a strong pull down a hill heading into an uphill.  As soon as you are out of energy at the bottom of the hill a fresh rider will keep the pace up and you could get dropped.
  2. The strongest climber should lead the climbs but at a pace everyone can handle.
  3. The heaviest, most powerful, rider should lead on the descents but pull off with enough time to recover before the next climb.
  4. When you pull off the front stay close to the line passing you and start accelerating before the last rider passes so you can drop into the backof the paceline.  It is also courteous to let the person know if you are the last rider.

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