Group Ride Etiquette And Paceline Basics
Primary Objectives: BE SAFE!! BE SMOOTH!!
Always stay cool, calm and relaxed. Be predictable. Pedal Smooth. Ride in a straight line. The benefit of a paceline is to allow faster speeds and at the same time allows riders to rest while drafting in the slip stream of others.
- Obey the rules of the road! Adhere to all traffic laws.
- Ride no more than two (2) abreast. Single paceline in traffic.
- Stay as far to the right hand side of the road as safely possible. DO NOT ride along the center line of the road!!
- DO NOT ride in aero bars while in a group or paceline (unless you are leading). IT IS NOT SAFE FOR YOU, IT IS NOT SAFE FOR OTHERS!!
- Use hand signals to indicate turns (left and right), stopping and slowing.
- Use verbal warnings. This includes warnings for turns, stopping and slowing.
- “Car Up” – To warn of approaching vehicles.
- “Car Back” or “Passing” – To warn of passing vehicles.
- “On your left” – When overtaking an unsuspecting cyclists.
- Point out and announce hazards in the road. This includes holes, bumps, road kill, gravel, sand, pedestrians, cars, etc. Anything disruptive to cyclists.
Group Ride Basics:
- Paceline – a string of riders, who alternate turns riding at the front, pulling then resting by sitting in, drafting in the slip stream of the other riders.
- Drafting – riding a slipstream, or pocket of moving air, created by the rider in front. This enables the second rider to maintain speed with less effort.
- NO SUDDEN MOVEMENTS!! Riders need to ride straight, steadily, and smoothly. Your riding affects all other riders in the group, so be consistent, safe and predictable. Always be aware of what is happening around you.
- If you brush shoulders, hands, or bars with another rider, do not panic. Stay relaxed and allow your upper body to absorb any bumps.
- If you have a mishap (flat tire, mechanical, etc) stay relaxed. DO NOT slam on the brakes. Slowly, smoothly and calmly slide out of the paceline. Once you are clear, then slowly decelerate before stopping off the side of the road. If you are at the back, calmly let others know you have had a mishap.
- ALWAYS be considerate to other cyclists and motorists!! Your actions reflect up the club, your sponsors and the cycling community as a whole!!
- Do not litter. Put any wrappers in your pockets until you get home.
- Ride a comfortable distance behind the wheel in front of you. Begin riding 2-3 feet away and work up to closer distances as you start to feel more comfortable.
- Practice helps!! Experienced riders will ride within inches of each others wheels.
- Do not fixate on the wheel in front of you. Look beyond the rider directly in front of you to see what is up the road. Be aware of what is in front of you!!
- Do not overlap wheels. If you touch wheels, the rider behind should smoothly and calmly slow down. The rider in front should maintain his line and pedaling.
- DO NOT slam on brakes!! If you roll up on the rider in front of you, easy pedal and smoothly ease to one side. Allow the wind to slow you down.
- Avoid gaps. If a gap does open, smoothly and slowly accelerate to close it. DO NOT “Attack” to close a gap. This creates more gaps with the riders behind you. If a rider opens a gap and cannot close it (he’s “cooked”) then smoothly and slowly accelerate around him to close the gap.
Passing and Pulling:
- Generally, the lead rider will pull off to the left.
- DO NOT accelerate when taking the lead!! The lead rider should pull off to the side and smoothly decrease speed. The second rider should maintain the speed of the group. If the speed is to be increased, do so slowly and smoothly. Allow the rider to regroup at the back and benefit from the draft. Remember, he just did a pull and is probably a little tired. If you surge, the rider pulling off or even the group may take exception to the acceleration and do the same to you!!
- When pulling at the front, maintain the speed of the group. Do not stay on the front so long that you decrease the speed of the group. Keep the pace steady!!
- DO NOT over exert yourself at the front!! Stronger riders should pull longer, weaker riders should pull shorter. Do not be embarrassed to simply pull through immediately.
- DO NOT rush to the front and pour on the full power until you are exhausted or blow. Save enough energy to regroup with the end of the paceline and recover.
- When the lead rider pulls off, slowly move to the back of the group, but maintain some speed and do not stop pedaling. Stay close to the group as you drift back, this will help shield the other riders from the wind. When you are beside the last rider in the line, smoothly pick up your speed and move over behind his wheel.
- Careful not to slow down too much, otherwise you will have to accelerate hard to maintain contact with the group or miss the group all together.
- DO NOT ride to the front of the paceline and pull out in 2nd or 3rd position from the front opening gaps for the riders behind you. If you find yourself at the front, pull through and over once the front wheel of the rider who pulled off in front of you is past your rear wheel. This will not take anymore energy and prevents opening gaps for the riders behind you.
- DO NOT sit on the back the entire time only to “attack” or accelerate at the next big hill or win the sprint at the end of the ride. In other words, if you are not pulling through to do your share of the work, there probably should be a good reason (ie. You are in pain!) Other riders will remember this for a long time!!
- Stay hydrated – Carry a water bottle
- Carry a spare tube & air
- Don’t ride in gutters – glass & sharp debris collect there
- Wear protective eyewear
- Use lights when riding in the dark or expect darkfall.