Group Road Riding Etiquette & Simple Pace Line Guidelines.
- · Don’t OVERLAP WHEELS!!!! This is especially important for some riders – it can be a formula for disaster. Unless you are an exceptional bike handler riding behind a remarkably steady and predictable rider, the advantage gained by very close following is not worth the risk of crashing.
- · When on the front, keep your head up, call out the junk and holes, and watch the traffic. You are responsible for the safety of many riders. Don’t let them down. Don’t worry about what gear you are in or if you have a stick in your cluster. Anticipate stop light and roundabout activity (it is your responsibility to get the entire group through the intersection safely). Go easy off the lights or around the corners, give the back rider’s time to get going without getting the “whip syndrome”.
- · If you must chit chat in the pace line skip the eye contact, watch the rider in front of you and the traffic on the road — especially at the front.
- · Watch the rider in front of you constantly. Depending on who it is, keep a safe distance, especially when approaching a challenging rise in terrain or jump in pace. Some people, even on the best of days have an inconsistent speed that causes the bike to go back and forth. Other people brake suddenly or excessively, others throw the bike back when getting up to climb. Know who these people are and stay back from them. When in town pay attention to what’s ahead for traffic changes.
- · Ride in a straight line at a consistent and predictable pace. If you have to wipe your tyres don’t slow down or stop pedaling. Remember there a bunch of riders behind you.
- · When moving from a seated to a standing position, stay on the power so you don’t fall back into the bike behind you. Even some very strong riders do this so be forewarned.
- · Never pass on the left unless you are absolutely certain there is :
1. Plenty of room
2. The rider in front absolutely knows you are coming
around because you yelled your intention and you saw a visible reaction.
…………Some riders disapprove of this under any circumstances—it depends on your bike handling skills and who you are passing.
· If you find that you can’t hold with the pace line that you’re in, SIGNAL, then pull out of the pace line and back off…..DON”T start thrashing weaving or gapping. If you are smart you can jump back on at the rear and get a break too. If you are genuinely unable to share the pace at the front stay at the back and keep out of the way of the other riders. DON”T keep moving up the pace line then pulling out and leaving gaps.
- · If you must spit or blow your nose move out of the line enough so nobody is directly behind you. The guys behind you don’t want your snot all over them.
Riding In A Group
- · Pace lines are those neat single file lines you see going along the Cooroy Road. It’s an easy way to cover a lot of distance fast with much less energy expended by everyone in thee group. The concept is that wind resistance is your enemy (as much as 40% of your energy is spent overcoming wind resistance) and by following someone close behind you will be sheltered from the wind and use less energy. Of course the person in front will be doing most of the work so you trade off turns at the front so that every one gets a break.
- · A word about risk…….The efficiency of riding in a pace line comes at the cost of added risk. If the rider ahead of you or behind you or on either side for that matter does something unexpected, you could find yourself on the pavement in an instant. Don’t ride in a pace line unless you are willing to assume these risks.
There are three basic rules to pace line riding:
1. Don’t do anything suddenly !
2 Don’t do anything suddenly !
3. DON’T DO ANYTHING SUDDENLY ! !
This may sound a bit obvious but it is the key to a good pace line. The best way to start is with a partner you trust who is a smooth rider (i.e. as smooth as or smoother than you). Start out following him or her with about 60cm of space between your bikes (or greater if you are not comfortable that close). Gradually close the distance to whatever your nerves can stand. Ideally you want to be 150cm to 300cm, as you can see in fig 1, away. You can get a good draft a wheels length away, so getting too close is not absolutely essential. It is also important you do not ride up alongside the rear wheel of the person ahead of you; this is called “overlapping wheels” and can cause a fall if the person ahead of you swerves to avoid an object on the road.
The effect of drafting
Wheel gap in cm decrease in resistance
Start out riding in a pace line with just 2 riders and do it on flat ground. It is a good idea to split your attention between watching the rear wheel of the rider in front of you and glancing over his or her shoulder to see what’s ahead. The lead person should be watching ahead and giving verbal cues as well as pointing out any obstacles on the road whilst GRADUALLY moving to avoid them. Later as you gain more confidence in your ability as well as your partner’s ability you can begin to reduce the distance between you. If you bump another rider or wheel do not panic or make a sudden swerve, just move away from the interfering rider.
Here are some guidelines just as important:
- · Pedaling
Don’t stop pedaling (see rule 1). If the speed of the pace line slows just pedal around slower (“soft pedaling”—pedaling without applying a lot of force to the pedals), this keeps your pedaling motion going and prevents you from unintended acceleration when you go from motionless to pedaling again. It also prevents the person behind you from being startled. You can also reduce your speed without breaking by raising your body to create more air resistance or moving over SLIGHTLY out of the draft of the person ahead of you, but don’t rise up off the saddle.
- · Braking
Basically, DO NOT (see rule 3). The person ahead of you must let you know about upcoming obstacles and if you are at the front you should give plenty of warning if you are going to stop for a signal or traffic at roundabouts. If you have a mechanical problem just yell “flat, chain, stopping, etc” and pull smoothly out of the pace line and coast until you are clear and can stop without endangering other riders.
- · Gear Changing
Try to stay in a gear that you are comfortable pushing. Do not try to spin at a cadence way too high for you just because somebody else can or push a gear way to heavy because it makes you look strong. When doing this you will not be able to ride smoothly.
- · Hills
Generally pace line and hills should not be used in the same sentence. Everyone has a different climbing style and ability and unless you are familiar with the rider ahead you may end up in a ditch from an overlapped wheel. Gradual hills are fine, just increase the distance between you and the wheel in front of you and try not to accelerate... If on the front do not accelerate up the hill….it is OK to drop off 4 or 5 kph on a gradual hill……nobody behind will think you are less of a superhero by keeping the pace steady.
NEVER GET OUT OF THE SADDLE IN A PACE LINE. If you must stand to get up the hill and someone is behind you push down hard on the pedal as you rise off the saddle. This compensates for the tendency for the bike to move back as you rise up. Likewise give an extra hard push as you sit down to avoid slowing during the transition to seated climbing.
- · Unintended Acceleration
Another thing to watch for is unintended acceleration….used to describe the phenomena of being “off the front” of a pace line which generally irritates everyone in the pace line. It happens when you get to the front and subconsciously you feel that you are not moving fast enough so you pick up the pace without realizing it. At some point you look back to see a bunch of really annoyed riders. Everyone has done this accidentally at some point and some wankers have done it deliberately. You can avoid it by looking at your computer and noting the speed and try to stay within 2kph or less of that speed and avoid looking like a wanker.
- · Multiple Riders
Once you are comfortable riding with another person you can graduate to multiple riders. This gets a bit trickier since every one has a different comfort speed. Watch your computer and try to keep within 1 or 2 kph of the last leaders pace. If you find the pace too fast take a shorter turn at the front or even just “pull through” and off which means you get to the front just pull off without taking a long turn on the front. When pulling off the front of a pace line ease up on your pedaling but don’t stop…..the idea is to get to the back as fast as possible and back out of the wind. When you approach the back increase your pedaling speed to match the pace line speed and pull in behind the last rider. Make sure it is the last rider.
- · Echelons
Echelons are used when the wind is coming from the side and the riders are following from the side. This needs no further explanation as this practice can not be adopted when sharing the road with other traffic.
- · Dual Pace Lines
Dual pace lines are used with larger groups (8 or more riders) as a way of keeping from the group stringing too far out. It has the pleasant side effect of enhancing communication. It is simply 2 pace lines side by side. The rotation can be done either of 2 ways. 1. The lead rider on the left pulls to the left, the lead rider on the right moves left into his or her position and the also to the left. The next 2 riders then do their turn on the front. When traffic is not a consideration the lead riders would pull off into the wind and use the wind to slow them as they soft pedal back down the pace line.
2. Where there is room this can also be done by having both riders come off the front to the left and right. Note that the Australian traffic regulations state that a rider must stay to the left unless overtaking another vehicle.
- · Duties of The Lead Rider
In a smooth running pace line riders do not have time to see and avoid obstacles such as rocks, holes, debris and glass. The riders depend on the lead riders to be the eyes of the pace line and point and shout a warning. These warnings should be passed down the line by the following riders. If you don’t feel comfortable taking your hands off the bars just shout the warning “rock Right (left)”.
If the pace line needs to slow because of a stop sign or lights or traffic on a roundabout the lead rider must shout “Lights Up” , “Car Up”, etc. The riders behind must be aware and watching and listening for these warnings so as to pass the word back down the pace line.
- · Drinking and Foreign Substances
It’s probably best to get a drink when you are at the back of the pace line. The same goes for spitting or blowing snot rockets.
- · Problem Riders
Occasionally you may be troubled by other riders who do not hold their line or stop unexpectedly etc. Don’t ignore this, often it’s just a matter of education. Talk to the other in a polite way, asking him or her to refrain from the problem behaviour.
Remember safety is everyone’s concern!