How To Ride In A Pace Line | Cycling Group Ride Tips


– The fastest a group of
cyclists can go is in riding in a pace line. It’s the best way to combine
your efforts to slice through the wind as fast as possible. – Now you might not call it that name. You might call it through
and off or bit and bit or a chain gang perhaps. But whatever, the
principles remain the same. This is how to go as fast as possible. (dramatic music) – To ride in a pace line you want to be on flat or rolling roads
where the speed is high and you’re gonna need at least four of you, although the more the merrier! (upbeat music) – [Male] The idea of a pace
line is that you spend a shorter time in the front of the
group pushing into the wind and then move to back seeking
shelter whilst waiting for your turn again. This means that when you
are on the front you can ride much much harder
than you would on your own because you know you have
time to recover after and the more riders there are therefore, the more recovery you will get. (upbeat music) – There are two basic kinds of pace line. The single pace line is
a single line of riders. We use them 10 to 20
seconds on the front before peeling off, slowing down a fraction, and drifting to the back where you take up your place in line again. – And this is probably
the fastest way to do it. If you watch a team time trial a race, this is what they’re gonna be doing. And it’s really efficient
because you actually spend less time changing
riders which’ll quit you fine. It’s actually a really demanding bit. It’s also good because
you may easily balance out the different abilities within your group. So stronger riders can have
longer turns on the front. The weaker riders can do shorter ones. (upbeat music) – When you are going
uphill and on the front, it can be a good idea to ease off a bit. That’s to factor in that though
the riders behind you are still sheltered from the wind, they’re having to work quite
hard to ride uphill so they’re not getting the usual recovery. – In terms of judging how
long your turn on the front should be you should use
other riders as a little bit of a gauge. You don’t wanna do too much
more than your fair share, and you certainly don’t
wanna go too hard and fall into that trap of then
not being able to get back outta the back and get dropped. That is not good for you, clearly, but then nor is it good
of the rest of the group. There’s even a weak rider
they’ll be less recovery from everyone else but losing
your strong but overeager rider is gonna be a hammer blow. – And do make sure you
leave a bit in the tank for that effort to get
on the back of the line. When training team time trials,
the pros always emphasize that your effort is not over
until you’re back safely on the pace line. (upbeat music) Then you have the double pace line, so called because you
have two lines of riders, one faster, moving forwards, and then a slightly slower
line which is moving backwards relative to the fast line. Your time on the front is
just long enough to move from the fast line to the
slow line before drifting to the back again. (upbeat music) You can be sure you will get
shouted at if you do surge, however I agree it is sometimes
hard not to get carried away on the front. So one good tip to keep
half an eye on your speed, to take you’re not accelerating
when you get to the front. With practice you’ll be able
to do this entirely on feel even in undulating terrain. – Now as soon as you’re
clear of the rider in front, you can start to move across. The tighter you keep things
the more shelter everyone gets, and therefore the faster you will go. But it’s not essential to
bang your mate’s handlebars with your ass as you go through
even if you have a big one. And then it’s simply a case
of generally easing off because as you see you
don’t have to wait long before your shelter comes around. That’s so long as you
haven’t surged on the front. No surging! (upbeat music) – As soon as you get to the
back of the line and move across it can be a good idea to tell
the next rider that you were last so they know to start accelerating. Now in a well drilled group,
– Up! it’s not necessary but it doesn’t cost
anything and it can help to keep the group moving nice and smoothly. Up! – A simple up is literally all it needs. Just to let the last rider
know that the back of the group is approaching. Up! And they can accelerate and jump back in. (upbeat music) – [Male] If the last
rider doesn’t switch over to the other line, it all goes wrong. The string unravels and
you end up on the front. Now in races this can happen
as riders try and sneakily hide and save their energy. There are ways for dealing with sneaks, but in the short term
in order to restart it, the rider in second position
needs to do an extra turn and accelerate past rider
one then move across, effectively kick-starting
the pace line all over again. Another way it can go wrong
is if the rider coming from the faster line stays
on the front too long and doesn’t pull over to the
slow line until too late. Now that leaves the rider
who pulled over just before, who’s now going slow remember, stuck in the wind for much
longer than they expected and it creates a gap in the
slower line between them and the show off rider that
eventually pulls over late. Now it might not sound like
much but the extra effort for that gapped rider can
make a big difference, especially if they’re
riding at their limit. In fact, it can be a sneaky
way to tire out other riders in the breakaway in a race
if you have a better chance of beating them all at the end. So there are a few hints
and tips on how to make fast group riding work for you
and those you’re riding with, be they friends or rivals. Just remember that golden rule, try to keep something in
reserve to make sure you don’t get dropped. Even the strongest riders can
come unstuck by trying to do too much for a group.