On smaller club rides of up to 8 riders, a single “pace line” is an effective way of sharing the work on the front.
This is exactly the same technique used on a team time trial – so you can see how the pros do by finding a video of one of the lastest time trial stages of eg the Tour de France.
How it works
For any club members not familiar with riding this, some notes below:
- You change leaders by the front person dropping back, not by someone rushing forward to the front.
- The idea is to move at constant pace (actually power of those not at the front). Stronger riders pull on the front for longer, not faster. Less strong riders pull on the front at same speed but for a much shorter time.
- If you are in the middle of the paceline and you think the pace is a bit slow (for all, not just you), shout forwards for person at the front to either peel off or up the tempo a little.
- On the front to end your turn you simply move to the side. I can be helpful to communicate this to person behind with a flick of elbow or shout. After moving to the side (usually the right hand side) you slow and drift to the back of the line.
- When you become the front person, DO NOT SPEED UP. Your job is to pull with constant speed until you get tired. Speeding up for a few minutes can cause gaps and break the line.
- What happens on slight inclines/declines? Those in the line (not at front) should be riding at constant power (not actually speed) – so will be going faster downhill or tailwind and slower uphill or headwind. If you are a climber you might need to reduce your effort going uphill and increase downhill – and opposite for heavier stronger riders.
Note – above only works with up to 8 riders – more than this you should be riding 2×2 in a double line, unless on closed roads. This is for consideration for other road users.
Note: on clubs rides it is not acceptable to be riding as a single line of 12 riders as this prevents any car from overtaking. We should not ride more than 8 riders in a line.