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Question about over-lapping wheels. What am I doing wrong..(16 posts)

Question about over-lapping wheels. What am I doing wrong..Kristin
May 14, 2002 8:14 AM
I was reading the post by hoboken_rider and I hear and know the dangers of contacting wheels, but I can't seem to stay neatly tucked into a group. As soon as I'm in the paceline I find that I overcome the leader quickly. (Whats the guy called just in front of you?). When this happens, I first resort to coasting. If I still am going to overlap, I pull slightly to the right to catch some air. But that doesn't always work either. I hate using my brakes, but sometimes I've got to. So why is this? Am I'm in a squirrely paceline with inconsistant riders? Or am I doing something wrong?
It's naturalmuncher
May 14, 2002 8:17 AM
comes of drafting, and hence needing less effort to get along. I find the best way is just to drop a gear, thus keeping cadence steady by moving slower, or go a gear higher and slow cadence right down for a rest.
Sometimes however, the pace is just wrong, and you have to brake a little, esp downhill with the different weights/aero factors.

Takes practice, but you get used to it...
riding with the wrong people?mr_spin
May 14, 2002 8:37 AM
You are doing nothing wrong. In fact, you are doing it exactly right. Either you are too fast for these guys, or they are too inconsistent. You could also be inconsistent, by the way. Next time, glance at your speedometer once in a while and check if the speed is constant. If it varies widely, either educate them or find another paceline. Pacelines that pulse will wear you out, especially if you are on the back.
May 14, 2002 8:56 AM
You are doing fine, shifting to a smaller gear can help to control things too. The key to riding smoothly in a pack that most people don't "get" is to keep your cadence consistent and to always keep pedaling. Coasting is nearly as bad as hitting the brakes sometimes. The worst is when folks pause in their pedalstroke as they stand up and sit down; this causes an abrupt hesitation in forward momentum, and can result in (justifiably) naughty words from behind. Learn to pedal smoothly and in a relaxed manner, both getting out of the saddle and when sitting back down. This takes some practice, but the way I learned this little trick quickly and well was by riding a fixed-gear.

I've been racing forever and even I won't ride directly behind someone unless I absolutely trust them. If I'm unsure of the rider, I simply leave myself 12-18" gap and a bit of "out" a few inches to the side. If you can't keep the distance safe without coasting or swerving, then gently (gently!) "feather" the rear brake, and here's the important part: *while you are still pedaling*. What's the point of pedaling while braking you ask? It controls your speed subtly and keeps you from abruptly slowing into the wheel behind you, that's why. This was possibly the single most important pack skill taught me by a coach, who told me that the old saw "don't use your brakes in a pack" wasn't so much wrong as misrepresented. You can't help but use the brakes, but you do have to know how to do it properly.

Another good tip is to remember to look up past the rider(s) in front of you; which I describe as "soft focus" or "looking through" the field. Don't focus on the seat cluster or brake caliper in front of you, because that leaves you no reaction time if things get dicey further up the road.


pet paceline peevestarwheel
May 14, 2002 9:08 AM
It's natural to catch up on the rider in front of you because you have less wind resistance, so you have to occasionally tap your brakes, pedal easier, sit up or pull out into the wind. Try to avoid lapping wheels unless you've clearly pulled out to either side as any sideways movement by the rider in front (such as avoiding a pothole) will cause your wheels to contact -- and you will go down along with others behind you.

What really bugs me in pacelines is people who won't stay behind the rider in front but stay pulled out to the side a couple feet, forcing you to move out as well or get no benefit of the draft. Other pet peeves are squirrelly riders who can't hold a line, riders who slow down suddenly with no warning, and people who don't call out clear hazards such as potholes, sticks, big patches of gravel. I've hit a couple potholes this year riding in fairly large pacelines (10-12 riders) where riders were just too lazy or preoccupied to point them out. Fortunately no harm was done.
i'm still learning, too...JS Haiku Shop
May 14, 2002 9:29 AM
but, the difference between riding with my normal group (recreational types) and riding with the fast group (cat 2, 3, and pro triathletes) is astounding. riding with the "weekend warriors", one is always very mindful of the road ahead, regardless of who's in front. (abrupt) brakes in the "pack" and *not* calling out hazards (bunny hopping potholes without any sign at all) is typical. it's an exercise in riding defensively. otoh, the cat2/3/tri-guys ride at a 2-3 mph higher average, in a pack 30+ strong, and they all maintain a steady, predictable line, good space between riders (but not excessive), and the pace changes are intentional--i.e. caused at the front, attacks, hills, etc.--i can sit in the pack with a half dozen riders in either direction, and not feel claustrophobic. until they drop me. :-)

it's almost like the recreational guys i ride are 100% self-absorbed, and the cat 2/3/tri-guys are profoundly aware of their surroundings. hmmm...
Stay predicatble and consistentgrzy
May 14, 2002 9:36 AM
First, the reason why you're in a paceline is b/c it's less overall effort. If you think the paceline is going to slowly then by all means take the lead and show them how it's done. Just don't be surprised when you blow and fall off the back. If you drop the whole group then it's time to find someone else to ride with.

You need to learn how to stay in formation and the brakes aren't the key. The key is sliding out from behind the rider in front of you to catch the air stream that will slow you down while ALL the time you're still pedaling. You then anticipate the correction and slide back in behind the rider infront of you. Corrections need to be small and slow enough to allow others around you to react. The mark of an inexperienced and dangerous pack rider are things like hitting the brakes and pausing their pedaling. When you do this it takes an even bigger correction by the rider behind you due to the repsonse time lag and this effect mutliplies for the people behind them. If you stop pedaling and feather the brakes, then the only thing left for the rider(s) behind you is to hit the brakes harder or to pull out to the side. If the rider in the lead is inconsistent then it's pretty hard to be smooth. Anticipation is the key. It also helps to objectively assess both your skills and the skills of the people you're riding with. There are some people I just won't get close to.
Small corrections.......Len J
May 14, 2002 9:47 AM
are the key to a pacline. IMO

If you think about a paceline, small action in the front result in exaggerated responses in the rear. How many times have you seen the rider in front of you surge up to catch up to the wheel in front of you only to slow down quickly to stay even with the wheel in front of them? The next time someone seems to surge away from you, instead of surging yourself, pick up speed slowly and as you start to catch up slow down slowly, you can do this my changing how much pressure you are putting on the pedals. If you do this, I guarantee that the line behind you will appreciate it. I would rather have more room in front of me & a presictible line that be continually trying to find the "6 inch gap from an inconsistant wheel.

As someone else said, be predictible.

Don't expect too much from people you don't know...biknben
May 14, 2002 9:53 AM
Finding a group that abides by all the "Paceline etiquette" rules is like a gift from God.

There are so many variables in a paceline it is difficult to keep everything working smoothly. Just one less experienced rider in a group can completely throw off everyone's rhythm. Finding a group of riders who work well together is key. Trust forms and everything just clicks. When you find it, don't let it go.

In your situation, remember that while behind someone, you are doing considerably less work. Pick a lower gear, slow your cadence, or just soft pedal. Grab a drink and enjoy the view (to the side). It will be your turn to pull soon enough.
re: Probably just the learning process. nmdzrider
May 14, 2002 10:20 AM
Thanks for all the retrospectKristin
May 14, 2002 10:26 AM
Thanks for the remarks. I posted this with one particular ride in mind. I'm so new and nervous, that can be squirrely myself. (I try, but it takes time.) So when I have a bad experience, its natural to accept the blame. In retrospect, I think that perhaps this particular group was struggling. I was in the middle and was all I could do to not hit the rider in front. I know the pace wasn't consistant because I found myself jabbing (yes, jabbing) my brakes to avoid the rider in front. I didn't have time to signal so ended up yelling a lot. Eventually I just bailed all together, which I think was the best thing to do.

One goofy rider can make a paceline difficult...two will ruin it. Unfortunately, due to nervousness and weak handling; its difficult to not over-react. So perhaps the lesson learned is to refuse (for now) those paceline experiences. I'll wait to ride with the initial group that taught me. They're strong experienced riders...I just have to catch them on their recovery days.

Okay, question. When you show up for a club ride, how do you politely decline joining the paceline. Some poeople are really insistent about you jumping onboard even if you don't want to. Can I spit on them? Okay, maybe just some water on their shoes.
Thanks for all the retrospectJon Billheimer
May 14, 2002 10:35 AM

The best way to deal with the squirrels and wankers is to drop 'em:)-!!! BTW, good advice from LFR on feathering the rear brake while pedalling. Also, from some of the others about getting into a smaller gear and spinning up a bit.

I, personally, ride with a couple of race clubs, where a substantial number of riders are stronger and more experienced than myself. Because of their skills they're much better groups to ride with. You'll probably feel more comfortable going with the stronger groups, plus you'll improve your own skill- and fitness levels.

Glad to see you're still riding after all your "trials and tribulations." Stay with it!
Thanks for all the retrospectlegs
May 14, 2002 10:41 AM
this always sends the message to get off your tail..
its hard to do whilst pedaling but with practice
and good aim..
sorry about the above post...

you know.. we as cyclists are so hard on each other .. mostly cause of our own insecurities..
when i think all you need to do is communicate and be yourself...
I hope this helps..

I do know that the times i have sat in with elite riders they have been thoughful and when i sit in with riders of a less caliber... there can be a lot of strange behavior based on nothing but fear..
I see a lot of that here sometimes and its a shame..
cause cycling is great..
so yeah.. IMHO just communicate and be yourself
har har, very funny. I got both the insights and the...well, whatever was between the lines. ;-) (nm)Kristin
May 14, 2002 10:57 AM
Or just drop off if it's not workingdzrider
May 14, 2002 11:56 AM
Saturday I was riding my commuter with 38c tires and a pannier with shoes, clothes, and a book in it. Three guys caught me on a fast, easy road and the last guy left room for me to join the line. I had a very hard time regulating my speed because anything that i did to slow down had a much bigger effect and then I had to work extra hard to get all that stuff back up to speed.

After a few miles a dropped off and thanked them for the tow. I don't think any harm was done to them and it got me working hard than I had been.

On our shop rides the pacelines work pretty poorly. They disintegrate going up or down every real hill. While it's frustrating at times, it also gives a sense of really riding together and people are clearly psyched when it actually works. Kind of like an average golfer getting a birdie. It makes the whole round!
The principle is to remain as stable as possibleelviento
May 14, 2002 10:57 AM
A stable paceline is a safe and efficient paceline. Use common sense to deal with the situations that may come up.