One of the common (and irritating) mistakes riders make in a paceline is accelerating while taking over the lead position.
Maybe it happens because riders don’t want the others to think they can’t handle the pace. Rather than risk slowing down, they err by speeding up.
The correct way is to maintain the speed as the former leader pulls off. Then you move forward, in effect, because that rider slows slightly to drop back.
If you accelerate through the front, gaps open between riders behind. There’s yo-yoing as they close back up. This wastes energy and can even cause wheels to touch. You won’t win any friends.
It’s easy to do it right. As you ride in second place, take a quick glance at your bike computer. Pull through at the same speed. After a few seconds, you can smoothly up the pace or back off, depending on conditions.
Read more about pacelines
Paceline Safety Responsibility Follow-Up
Guide to cycling in a paceline
John Sinibaldi says
Just a thought: In our neck of the woods (pancake flat Florida), we paceline often at steady set speeds. In my experience, it is often the person pulling off who is the problem. If that person doesn’t “slow slightly to drop back”, that is, scrub at least one mph off of their pace (or more) once they’ve moved over, the person behind them is doomed to a long pull if they don’t speed up. Inexperienced cyclists who don’t slow down when they pull off often cause a paceline to gradually increase in speed as each person pulling through has to ramp up just a bit to get far enough ahead to be able to pull over themselves, and then the people behind them maintain that new, faster pace.
There is nothing more frustrating than a paceline functioning flawlessly except for that one rider (or more) who just can’t figure out that if you’re pulling at 24 mph when you pull through, you can’t continue at 24 mph when you pull off because the people following you then have to now hold 25 mph to get by you. It’s not rocket science. 🙂
Kerry Irons says
While a check of the speedometer can be useful, I would hope that people who regularly ride in pacelines have a sense of their speed and cadence and could be relied on to hold it steady. I know they sometimes don’t, but it is more about self-awareness than “checking the instruments.” As to that person who doesn’t slow down, if I am the next rider in line, I hold my speed and after a few seconds, I will tell them “I’m never going to pass you if you don’t slow down.” A not-so-subtle training technique.
The key to effective (and most importantly safe) pace lining is cooperation, including each rider smoothly pulling for a duration/speed consistent with the goal of the group…..and their own abilities that day. I don’t see a stronger rider pulling away off the front as a big deal……since the group can just let him/her ride away & keep to their goal pace.
IMHO- a more irritating (and possibly dangerous) mistake is a relatively weaker rider taking too long pulls, getting fatigued, and suddenly slowing down before rotating off. When that happens the 2nd rider has to slow (to avoid touching wheels) & then speed up (smoothly) to re-establish the group’s agreed upon pace.