After the unfortunate accident from the ride from 38th where 2 riders wrecked and were injured, I thought I would share some insight on paceline riding. Everyone in a paceline has a responsibility to every other rider in the group. The group is a cohesive whole and what effect or actions created by one rider effects everyone in the group. There are 3 areas of awareness each rider needs to concentrate on with varying degrees of depth.
- To the front. This is self evident. Concentration must be made of the rider in front and what they are doing. Due to the draft effect we all want to stay close, yet not lap the wheel in front of us. I sudden movement by the person in front when the front wheel touches the back wheel spells certain disaster. Beyond just what is immediately in front (Zone 1) is a need to be aware further up the road in what I think of as (Zone 2). Look 3 or 4 riders ahead and be aware of their position, speed and condition. (Zone 3) would be beyond the front of the paceline, looking for cars, stop sign, debris, turns or lights.
- To the sides. Look for what or who is beside you. Is it a rider you trust to be close. If not move up or back. Be aware of the shoulder of the road. Is there one, how much, how much drop off? Are there cars at intersections? Never assume a car will stop for you just because you have the right of way. I always try to ascertain that the driver sees me before I continue. I will whistle or call out to drivers to make them aware of my being there. And be careful of car door openings. Give yourself enough clearance on these.
- To the back. This is one area most new riders do not consider. Any sudden movement you make or stop can affect any and all riders behind you. Make no sudden movements, right or left. This may mean at times running over a bump or obstacle in the road. One Saturday a mother duck and a couple of chicks were crossing the road. There was no time to stop and if anyone in the paceline had tried to it would have brought down people behind. Fortunately no ducks were injured. Make no sudden stops; this includes if you drop a chain or have a flat. Call out your issue and try to slow gently. When coming up on a changing light, anticipate the light and slow gently, don’t brake hard.
- Hold your line on the road and in turns. When turning remember the person beside you and don’t cut the apex of the turn and cutoff the other rider. If you are wide in the turn stay wide.
- Don’t ride pacelines too fast for conditions (subdivisions, Ocean Blvd., etc.) Use common sense.
- Don’t accelerate when it’s your turn to pull.The idea is to keep the whole group moving at a quicker pace and not to impress everyone with how strong you are. No one will be impressed but will just think you a jerk. Don’t throw the parachute and slow rapidly when you pull off the from. Be smooth and steady.
- Use hand or voice signals. Point out debris or holes. But be judicious in this. If you point out everything (like a leaf) then the “cry wolf” syndrome comes into play. If a manhole cover can be ridden over without incident (when not raining), please don’t point them all out (Market Common.)
- Don’t run up on riders at stops. This happens too often in our groups where riders don’t slow down as fast others and ride up beside them. I have had many a close call with some who don’t want to put their foot down and keeps rolling.
Remember we all have a responsibility to create a safe riding environment for all of those around us. Please feel free to add you comments.