Gacki’s Gospel #1 Paceline Advice

While discussing the subject of ride etiquette, I would like to breach the subject of steady, consistent pace lines. Here are a few things to consider as you roll through the paceline.....

  1. Stay smooth and DON'T surge.....what I mean by this is when you are in the acceleration line keep the pace consistent and don't JACK it up 3-5 mph. No one cares how strong you are, and the best way to alienate your fellow rider or club-mate is to be a jerk in a paceline. No one wants to sit behind that guy.
  2. When you pull off into the relief line....back it off a pedal stroke or two....or 10%. If the paceline is run correctly, a new face should be rotating off the front every 5-7 seconds....if you are on the front of the relief line for more than let's say 10 seconds and no one is coming around are going too hard. It is the relief line....relief...aka rest and recovery. Don't be the guy who "drag races" the front person in the acceleration line.
  3. Half wheeling....sometimes known as "half wheel hell". If you are riding in a "2 up" paceline, meaning two riders are side by side sharing the pace and when they get tired they will both roll off the front to the back. While those riders are on the front it is very important that they ride at a consistent side by side space. Their front hubs should almost line up. If one of the riders starts to accelerate a tiny bit and pulls forward and the other rider matches that speed, now they have created a surge. This is tough on the riders behind. if the offending rider continues to keep surging every time the other riders matches the pace he is essentially pulling a half wheel ahead. If you end up with the right combination of riders + testosterone you end up with a 28+mph pace.
  4. Make your moves subtle. NO major 2-4 foot swings from one line to the very gentle in your movements. If someone happens to be overlapping wheels....with subtle movements there is a good chance they will NOT go down if there happens to be a touch of wheels. With erratic, big movements it isn't a question of if there will be a crash, but when.
  5. Stay relaxed. I cannot tell you how many times I look over at riders in the paceline and their shoulders are up around their ears and they have a death grip on the handlebars. Stay loose and relaxed. Easier to ride, less fatigue later on in the ride and most importantly, if someone bumps into you accidentally, you can absorb the bump....if you are tense....not so much.

These are just a few thoughts, based on about 30+ years of racing and riding throughout the US. Nothing here is cast in stone....but it is all fairly proven.

Related site illustrations and STCC specific information

by Michael Gacki.

About Micheal.  Micheal has 30+ years of racing and riding experience, participating at all levels.  You'll occasionally see pictures of his younger self in NYC criteriums and other races and rides across the US.  He's also been a presence  in the local retail market for some time, offering help and advice to cyclists at all levels in North Texas.  We're glad he and his wife Shelby have made Shawnee Trail Cycling Club their non-racing home.

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