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Possible to smooth out an un-smooth paceline?(12 posts)

Possible to smooth out an un-smooth paceline?hrv
Oct 6, 2003 11:48 AM
Riding/racing 2 years. Must have been fortunate since most of my riding has been in smooth-ish pacelines, and have been on the velodrome in a paceline.

Still have problems with pacelines when the riders in front are squirrels, brake too much, let gaps form, etc. Don't usually ride with these types, but it happens. Best ways to lessen this herky-jerky stuff and make it appear to those behind you that all is not too bad, and possibly blame it on you? Maybe not always squirrels causing the speed changes, just guys pulling who get tired.

I know it takes experience. I usually always pedal, sometimes sit up, feather brakes while pedalling, overlap a little, etc, all the while trying to limit the speed losses for those behind me. What else can I do?

I do the same...biknben
Oct 6, 2003 12:25 PM
In a paceline, I pay close attention to the direction of the wind. It's not that often that you get a true headwind. It's usually from one side or the other. I position myself to the side opposite the wind. How far to the side depends on the wind direction

This plays a dual role for me. I'll stay a foot or two behind the rider ahead of me. If the rider ahead slows, I'll softpedal while getting a little closer. I may start to overlap but I'm off to the side so I don't panic. Within a second or two they get going again and everything works out fine.

OTOH, I just do this for the typical undulations in speed. I avoid overlapping wheels if I thought there was the potential for a wheel rub. I'm also especially weary if I don't know the other riders and their habits.

If the guy ahead accelerates rapidly, I'll let a small gap form, maybe a bike length. If he doesn't slow down by then I'll gently increase the effort to reduce the gap.

After riding too many times with unknowns or new riders, I've learned to appreciate a good paceline. It truely is a machine. Riding single-file is one thing. Pacelining is another beast altogether.
What is softpedallinglotterypick
Oct 6, 2003 12:34 PM
On the ride I noticed my friend, the guy who invited me, would pedal in the line and then even when it was down hill, he would keep pedaling, yet it was clearly not doing anything.

Is that a lactic acid thing?

How do you do it? Gear wise and when should you shift up (guy moving away?). Thanks.
Oct 6, 2003 1:32 PM
It's letting up on pedal effort without letting up on your spinning. It's a paceline tactic for reducing speed in a non-abrupt fashion, helping to keep things running smoothly and together. In biknben's example, it serves to keep the rider behind him in rhythm, preventing him from hitting his brakes should he see you hit your brakes, thereby interrupting the rhythm and flow of the paceline. It's also used when you've finished your pull and you begin your fallback.
Are you riding echelon?...TFerguson
Oct 6, 2003 1:22 PM
Or do you just leave the guy behind out hanging in the wind? Echelon takes a lot of road and some major cooperation.

Yeah...A two man echelon...(sarcasm)biknben
Oct 6, 2003 5:35 PM
If I'm not pulling I'll be trying to find the best spot for me. I'll stay to the side in a cross-wind but it's usually within 12 inches to one side or other. Depending on where the guy ahead of me is on the road, I may be forced to ride in the gutter. In that case, the guy behind me is SOL in my opinion. None of the roads I ride on provide enough room to form an echelon with more than 3 guys anyway.

OTOH, when I'm taking a pull, I'll move towards the wind so that riders behind can find the "sweet spot" behind me. For instance, if the wind is left to right, I'll stay as far left as I'm comfortable with depending on traffic conditions. If the wind is from Right to left, I'll gutter myself so that guys can string it out into the road as mush as they are comfortable with. I find that most riders don't pay attention to the crosswinds and don't understand the concept of an echelon. Just being behind someone is good enough for them.
Yeah...A two man echelon...(sarcasm)MShaw
Oct 7, 2003 8:53 AM
One of the other things I've noticed about pacelines these days is that when the wind shifts, the rotation of the paceline doesn't.

Used to be if you had a pronounced wind shift, that the leaders of the paceline would reverse the rotation, keeping the working line in the lee of the recovery line longer.

Seems nowadays that just riding a paceline is a victory, so I don't b1tch too much. I do scratch my head and wonder where the knowledge went...

That isn't an option in my area...biknben
Oct 7, 2003 10:44 AM
Among the groups I ride with, the unwritten rule is to paceline to the right while riders moving back stay left.

I think it's mostly because of traffic. We don't have room for an entire paceline to move left while a rider drops back on the right. In many cases, cars get pissy just because we have one guy to the left falling back. If the entire paceline moved left, cars wouldn't be able to go by.

It also may be a bigger hassle than it's worth. Trying to communicate to the group which side to use each time the wind changes sounds like a hassle. Keep it consistant to reduce confusion. Communication (or lack of) is what usually screws up the paceline. Reduce the need for communication as much as possible and things go smoother.
The object of this post was to form a cooperative paceline...TFerguson
Oct 9, 2003 2:57 PM
"...guy behind me is SOL in my opinion. ", isn't very cooperative a certainly doesn't help the group as a whole. You may be good in the local free-for-all ride but certainly wouldn't be very popular in the club ride.
re: Possible to smooth out an un-smooth paceline?Starliner
Oct 6, 2003 12:45 PM
First thing that came to mind is to forget about trying to ride a paceline in rolling terrain with these guys - stay on the flats.

Once there, all agree on a speed to ride at, in order to reduce the size of the +/- speed factor among you all. It also works to reduce the individual competitive factor and hopefully will get you all thinking about operating as a unit.

Choose a speed that everyone can hold. Later, when you guys are in synch, pick it up in increments.

To get in synch with each other, it's pretty much a matter of smoothing out the choreography of pacelining. Choose a guy among you to be the director - maybe the most experienced guy... you sound like someone who could fit the bill - and then have this guy be running the line - giving advice to all, and basically doing whatever is necessary to keep things ticking smoothly.

Just look back on how you learned how to paceline. For me, it was listening to riders more experienced than me, sometimes to not very kind words. But there were also guys who would ride along side me and talk to me about how to do things right and how to do things wrong, and then I'd try their advice the next time I pacelined. And it worked.

Communication and patience are your keys.
Be willing to let gaps open a bitKerry Irons
Oct 6, 2003 5:17 PM
I find that the average speed of the squirrels tends to be predictable, it's just you don't know when they'll speed up or slow down. So I hold the average speed and let the gaps open and close. I do it to protect myself as much as to help those behind. Obviously you can't ride directly behind a squirrel - off to one side lets you run up on them when they slow down to take a drink. If things really do speed up, I speed up more slowly, again to take some of the accordian out of the line. It all means I don't get as good a draft as I'd like, but then I'm riding with squirrels and what should I expect. No problem on the next ride as I avoid the squirrels once I figure out who they are.
re: Possible to smooth out an un-smooth paceline?Fredrico
Oct 7, 2003 10:15 AM
The local club ride does that every week. The leaders attack the hills, accelerate down them, see how fast they can jackrabbit away at green lights, and the poor saps at the back of a 20 bike paceline struggle to keep up. After one too many accelerations and chases, they eventually drop off one by one, and ride home on their own.

Is that any way to maintain a bike club? Every ride seems to be outright competitive, survival of the fittest. If you're not at the front, forget trying to match speeds with the riders in front of you, it's a slow death beyond anaerobic threshold.

How to deal with it? Try to stay no more than 5 or 6 riders behind the leaders who are setting the pace. You can react instantly to changes in speed, not after a gap has formed and a chase is on. If--or when--you drop off, catch the tail of the group for as long as possible. If they don't slow enough for you to recover, just let them go, and chase at your own pace, just below anaerobic, or as hard as you can without blowing up. That's something worth thinking about. Work in a gear your legs can handle, and go for all you're worth. Who knows, they could slow down on a rise, or hit a stoplight. At least you can minimize the gap, or someone else will drop off to accompany you home--or, if they dropped off before you did, catch you from behind.

The faster and fitter the group, the smoother the pacelines. Staying on the wheel of the riders in front requires paying attention 100%, and responding immediately to their every move. If you can't keep up, give it one last shot to close the gap, then pull off to the left, motioning the rider behind to come through on your right, only then drop back.

Paceline work would be an excellent winter training tool on group rides. We used to do these with 5 or 6 riders. Any more than that, the group starts to get really competitive, squirrelly, the riding more of a series of intervals, rather than steady tempo using the aerobic energy delivery system with slow twitch muscles. Intervals are great strength builders, but they work the fast twitch muscles, the anaerobic system, and can't last much over 5 minutes.