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Paceline etiquette(12 posts)

Paceline etiquetteKEN2
Sep 10, 2003 6:16 PM
This evening I went on my semi-usual weekly training ride, which is a group affair--not really a club ride, but there are usually some local club riders there, plus assorted other riders usually numbering 20-25. Tonight there were only 10 or 12 and several I don't remember seeing before.

Overall average speed from start to stop on this ride varies from 20-22 mph, so it's reasonably fast paced. This evening there was a strong headwind coming back and no one could seem to get organized--instead of rolling off the front, the front riders tended to hang on even as they slowed in the wind, until someone would zoom out on the left from behind and take over the lead--the opposite of a smoothly functioning paceline.

Anyway, there was one guy who insisted on passing the paceline on the right. This is on a 2 lane service road to a highway, non-threatening light traffic. He nearly got crowded off the pavement a couple of times by riders ahead of him who didn't know he was coming up on their right, yet he kept doing it. I finally told him to stop because it appeared to me that he was going to cause a crash that would take down riders behind him. He seemed insulted by this and I admit he had the fitness to pass the others.

The question is: is this squirrely behavior or does it have some basis in racing tactics or ?? I'm an experienced group rider but I don't race so maybe I'm missing something here.
it wasn't a raceDougSloan
Sep 10, 2003 7:38 PM
Racing tactics are fairly irrelevant, as this wasn't a race. For this type of group ride, squirrelly behavior, such as passing the group on the right, should be discouraged. If he had all that much fitness, maybe he should stay in front and pull the whole ride, or at least pull until he can't maintain speed, then fall back; however, he need not fall back to the end; he could fall back 4 or 5 riders and then motion to cut in. This is frequently how stronger riders rotate in with others.

If he must pass, he should do it on the left, after ensuring no traffic is approaching.

it wasn't a race, but...MShaw
Sep 10, 2003 8:07 PM
In a rotating paceline, the person coming off their pull pulls of into the wind, rather than any specific direction. The reason is that the riders on releif provide a wind break for the riders on the pulling line.

I don't know the specifics, nor was I there, but this could be one explanation. Granted, if the rest of the group didn't know what was going on, he's better off not pulling through on the right side.

I've noticed that paceline riding is a fading skill. I've got a few theories, but anyone else wanna take a crack at why they think pacelines are a dying breed?

It is dyingSkooter
Sep 11, 2003 12:20 AM
I dont know why but it seems that people are too into themselves rather that the whole. That is why I ride with a group of 5 or so riders I know well, or by my self.
Cheers Skoots
have a ride captain to organise, set pace, etc. nmSpunout
Sep 11, 2003 3:24 AM
maybe they are dying because..lemmy999
Sep 11, 2003 4:21 AM
most people in group rides are so anal about what everyone should be doing and how they are doing it that newer riders don't feel comfortable riding in a group. my wife has been road riding longer than I have and she likes riding in a group. I have only been road riding about 1-2 months and so far have no desire to ride in a group unless it is people I know really well. There are many more rules to road riding in a group than there are with mtn biking and I prefer to keep it as simple as possible. I mainly just ride with my wife and let her kick my butt (not too badly though). This is not a slam to the original message though..I agree that passing on the right could be dangerous and most of these group "rules" are for safety.
dying skillfiltersweep
Sep 11, 2003 4:45 AM
I think in many club rides, there are riders of vastly varying abilities tossed together, making for some interesting situations.

Some riders know they can suck a wheel all day, but fear that if they pull at all, they will blow up and lose the group. Most club rides I've attended have just a handful of guys that will pull in the lead group. Of course if anyone loses the group, or the groups starts to split up, they are sometimes forced to pull...

Another issue is that a well-lubricated double paceline can expose more riders to traffic- and all it takes is one or two individuals who are uncomfortable with this and the entire thing falls apart.

Finally, there is a huge variation in bike handling skills. Enough said about that.

...those are my theories...
You gotta speak up...biknben
Sep 11, 2003 4:16 AM
Communication in groups is the key to paceline happiness. I doubt you were the only one who felt uncomfortable with the situation. If I didn't know anyone in the group I would have just pulled off and rode by myself.

You could have nicely asked if everyone wanted to start a nice rotating paceline. During the hush that usually follows a comment like that (while everyone looks at each other strangely) you just point out that the current method of sprinting to the front isn't very safe or productive. I would hope at least a few people would agree. A good paceline is about slow, smooth, deliberate movements or changes in pace. Sharp accelerations or sprinting to the front only to slow down and get in the way are counterproductive.

Now, about this guy passing on the right. The groups I ride with stay as far right as practical. There would be no room to pass on the right. Any falling back or passing would be done on the left. Each rider would pull for however long he wants and then move left and let others riders pass. Any rider will find himself at the front soon enough and shouldn't feel the need to pass everyone. We typically hit enough lights, stops, or turns where people can reshuffle and move up if they want. Once back in the paceline, the order doesn't change much.

Someone commented about wind direction dictating which side to pass on. While I agree there are advantages, those types of things have to be relayed to everyone else to avoid confusion. This group doesn't seem coordinated enough to take advantage of this anyway. People shouldn't be passing or slowing on either side of the line on their own free will.

Finally, it was not a race. If people want to treat it like a race they should enter a race or find a group of like-minded riders that want to train as if it were a race. This again would require communication.
A paceline is about smooth efficiency. Someone who's strongbill
Sep 11, 2003 5:04 AM
can blow it apart as easily as someone who's weak. If anyone is riding unpredictably, the efficiency is compromised, draining everyone's energy from yo-yoing and defeating the purpose of the paceline as well as creating unnecessary risk.
As much as your buddy seemed insulted, you either do what the group is doing and contribute by acting as predictably and consistently as possible, or you go back to paceline school. Or ride by yourself.
We had a bad situation on last week's club ride. A guy who has ridden with us before, a strong rider, insisted on upping the pace every time he got to the front of a rotating double paceline. Every time. He'd pop off the front, and then move over, but not drop back. I don't know what he was trying to prove, but he would neither ride with us nor ride off by himself. Because there was a spectrum of abilities in the paceline, some of the guys were strong enough to pace him and some weren't, but everyone had to work harder to keep things rotating with the uneven pace. It sucked. We talked to the guy and then started yelling at him, which may have been uncool, but when you're struggling to hold this thing together and he blows it apart every friggin time, it was frustrating.
You've got to ignore people like thatMR_GRUMPY
Sep 11, 2003 5:41 AM
Form a new paceline behind him. After a while, he will notice that nobody is behind him. Don't let him into the new paceline, force him to go to the back. If he does it again, yell at him.
Yes. Let him go...Brooks
Sep 11, 2003 8:00 AM
In a race this year, we had smooth paceline going with 6-7 people and one guy who kept hammering into the front. After telling him several times to knock it off, we just let him go and let him hang in the wind. As soon as we hit a harder climb, he was blown and we passed him by and didn't see him again. Done that on group rides as well. If he is stronger, more power to him, have a good ride (and why did you want to ride with this group anyway?). If they hammer and blow, we are not pulling his sorry butt back to the start/finish.
re: Paceline etiquetteSolky
Sep 11, 2003 5:42 PM
I am not an experienced paceline rider, but from my limited exposure prefer 5 man groups. I have noticed that the pacelines I have joined are rarely productive. Typically, they seem unable to organize a pull, drop and rotate sequence. It seems pretty common sense and you don't need to be a cycling guru to understand the approach. Instead, there is a lot of slow riding, followed by a breakaway and a group chase, and back to a slow ride where no one wants to pull. It's whacked. Also, I have noticed a mob mentality where the line gets spreadout and hogs the road to passing cars. With five guys, you can be organized about the sharing of the load, better overall etiquette is practiced, and it seems much more enjoyable.