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Group / Paceline Question

Old 08-21-19, 05:45 AM
  #1  
billyymc
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Group / Paceline Question

I do very little group riding - most of my rides are solo, or with one other person. Sometimes ride with a few others and occasionally in a larger group but that's rare.

This weekend we have four of us doing a double century ride. Three of us have ridden together quite a bit and are comfortable drafting in general, and have ridden together enough that we trust each other and know tendencies, etc. One guy I haven't ridden with before, but he has trained quite a bit with one of the riders I have ridden with.

Due to the ride length we will want to maximize our cooperative effort and spend as much time in a tight line as possible. My question is about how to switch leaders. Whenever I've ridden with one or two other people we haven't really used a consistent method. I guess what I've used most has been that when the leader is done pulling he/she moves to the left and soft pedals a bit to fall back as the other riders stay on the line they were on and pull through, then the former leader tucks in behind the last person. One of the guys doing the ride this weekend feels like it's unnatural to do it that way (since the trailing riders pass the leader on the right), but didn't really offer an alternative.

The rest of the group would be open to any safe and sensible method of changing lead riders, so if there is a better / preferred way what would it be? I've always felt the method I described is good because only one person has to make a lateral move while the others just keep the original line.
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Old 08-21-19, 06:10 AM
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This has worked well for me in the past.
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Old 08-21-19, 06:10 AM
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A double century, whats that 15 hours in the saddle. Thats a lot of time to work it out.
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Old 08-21-19, 06:13 AM
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Originally Posted by big chainring View Post
A double century, whats that 15 hours in the saddle. Thats a lot of time to work it out.
No, should be under 12. I did the exact ride solo last year in 11:45 moving time (with about an hour and a half of stopped time for breaks). It's pretty flat with about 5800feet of elevation gain but even that is a bit deceiving - there were basically about three real "climbs."

Yes there's time to work it out, but prefer to have the group know the plan ahead of time. Some of the roads will be relatively busy with traffic.

Last edited by billyymc; 08-21-19 at 06:16 AM.
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Old 08-21-19, 06:38 AM
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Honestly, I'd just have each person pull until they don't feel like pulling, if some people want to sit-in, whatever, everyone knows who's doing the work. If everyone wants to sit in, then you go slower, at least one person will get annoyed and pull etc. no need to over complicate things.
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Old 08-21-19, 06:40 AM
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Originally Posted by billyymc View Post
One of the guys doing the ride this weekend feels like it's unnatural to do it that way (since the trailing riders pass the leader on the right)...
That guy's a noob or a rube. Tell him to watch a little YouTube.
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Old 08-21-19, 06:41 AM
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Originally Posted by billyymc View Post
My question is about how to switch leaders. Whenever I've ridden with one or two other people we haven't really used a consistent method. I guess what I've used most has been that when the leader is done pulling he/she moves to the left and soft pedals a bit to fall back as the other riders stay on the line they were on and pull through, then the former leader tucks in behind the last person. One of the guys doing the ride this weekend feels like it's unnatural to do it that way (since the trailing riders pass the leader on the right), but didn't really offer an alternative.
Tell him to get used to it.
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Old 08-21-19, 06:48 AM
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Originally Posted by firebird854 View Post
Honestly, I'd just have each person pull until they don't feel like pulling
Well we have one guy who is a strong rider, especially on flats - big guy with a lot of power. He will have a tendency to pull too long and he will end up gassed by mile 120 if he does. I know these guys (except one) and I know the ride because I did it before. The other guy I know well is a triathlete and just finished an ironman two weeks ago (Lake Placid). He wants to swap leader every 5 to 7 minutes or so - which seems like a lot to me.

My guess based on riding with them and knowing the ride, is that by halfway there will be one or two people who need to sit in for the rest of the ride. That's ok, hopefully they can hang on at the pace. Once we get past 70 miles or so there isn't a good bailout opportunity - you either finish the ride or you make the call of shame for a pickup.
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Old 08-21-19, 06:49 AM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
Tell him to get used to it.
Ok - he's ok doing it that way, he just said it feels unnatural. I think he will see it's the best way. I just wanted to ask here if there was a good alternative I didn't know about.
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Old 08-21-19, 07:05 AM
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Originally Posted by billyymc View Post
I guess what I've used most has been that when the leader is done pulling he/she moves to the left and soft pedals a bit to fall back as the other riders stay on the line they were on and pull through, then the former leader tucks in behind the last person.
Pull off into the wind. If the wind is from your right the lead rider moves over to the right when he’s finished. The riders behind are normally in an echelon so if you don’t pull off into the wind you end up dropping back into the line. Not a big deal if there’s only 4 riders but if you’re riding with a bigger group or experienced riders they’ll expect you to pull off into the wind.
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Old 08-21-19, 07:14 AM
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Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
Pull off into the wind. If the wind is from your right the lead rider moves over to the right when he’s finished. The riders behind are normally in an echelon so if you don’t pull off into the wind you end up dropping back into the line. Not a big deal if there’s only 4 riders but if you’re riding with a bigger group or experienced riders they’ll expect you to pull off into the wind.
Makes sense except in many cases we will be riding without adequate room to pull off to the right.
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Old 08-21-19, 08:29 AM
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Just do as you suggested an rotate off to the left. You don't want to over complicate it. Rotating off based on wind tends to work better in a slightly larger group and when running a rotating paceline.
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Old 08-21-19, 08:31 AM
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Thanks everyone. Appreciate the input.
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Old 08-21-19, 09:39 AM
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There are two types of pace lines. One rotates based upon a schedule and the other is constantly rotating. In the constant rotation, the lead rider takes a couple of pedal strokes and moves right or left and then goes back. The goal of the rotating line is to share the work evenly, It is not the fastest.

With a scheduled line, each rider has a defined time to be in the lead. Stronger riders stay on the front longer. This is the classic team pursuit or team time trial approach.

Since you have 4 riders, it would be pretty easy to determine a schedule. The other fine point is the order of the riders. A less strong rider could be on the wheel of a bigger rider offering more draft.
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Old 08-21-19, 09:44 AM
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I would suggest attacking at mile 95.

https://www.velonews.com/2019/06/gra...eakaway_494437
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Old 08-21-19, 09:49 AM
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I did several long rides before as a "team" . Some were OK, some were disastrous, because the riders could not agree on the speed and rest/feed time.

I would suggest talking to your riders beforehand and discussing the strategy. If you want to go as fast as possible all riders should work in a pace-line as long as possible. Although on a 200m ride the fatigue may set in and it will be hard to keep the pace-line. If it is just a sight seeing route, pace-line is not important. .

I would also suggest choosing a ride captain that will decide how to ride, especially when the fatigue set in.
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Old 08-21-19, 09:55 AM
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I think it is a mistake to have riders pull for a long period of time, like 10-20 minutes. They are more likely to burn a few matches and then not be able to contribute later down the road. Also, people generally ride slower the longer they are on the front.
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Old 08-21-19, 10:47 AM
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I"m sort of the default ride "captain" since I did this ride last year...in fact it was my route, my idea. This isn't a race, it's just four guys going out to do a 200 mile ride for the challenge of doing it. We will have to move at a decent pace simply to finish in a reasonable time. Starting at 6:30 am - which is an hour later than I started when I did it solo. That actually concerns me a bit - would prefer to start earlier but a couple of the guys are driving almost an hour to the start point.

I don't really care if we ride faster or slower than I did last year. I wouldn't have done this ride again solo - it's a long ride alone...I'd do that distance again solo, just not the exact same route (good route, but why repeat right?).

We'll talk about the "rules" before the start. On a ride like this my guess is each of us will go through a period where we feel it, where we may need to take a shorter pull or just sit in for a bit. Going to encourage each rider to do that when and if they need to. My experience last year was that I needed to eat earlier, and eat "real" food early. In the last 60 miles I didn't want to eat and almost bonked - then stopped, forced myself to eat and drink some Nuun and recovered pretty readily.

Last edited by billyymc; 08-21-19 at 10:58 AM.
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Old 08-21-19, 11:21 AM
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With a 4 person team, we spend 3' on the front, by the clock, but go over or under a bit if terrain or traffic dictates. That's enough time so that one can choose one's moment for rotating back, traffic usually being a factor. We point down to where our bike is going to go, then move left. Decrease speed maybe 1 mph so the riders on the right aren't going by too fast. This is a good time to get out of the saddle and pedal, rest your butt as you move back, rather than doing that in the line.

On an event double, you'll almost surely pick up other riders who'll want to tag along. No problem. As you come back and reach your last team bike, simply point to where your bike is going to go and gradually move into the slot which will open for you. Larger teams usually have a "trail bike" which stays last wheel and opens the slot in front of them as necessary or just leaves it open the whole time, warning other riders away.
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Old 08-21-19, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
With a 4 person team, we spend 3' on the front, by the clock, but go over or under a bit if terrain or traffic dictates. That's enough time so that one can choose one's moment for rotating back, traffic usually being a factor. We point down to where our bike is going to go, then move left. Decrease speed maybe 1 mph so the riders on the right aren't going by too fast. This is a good time to get out of the saddle and pedal, rest your butt as you move back, rather than doing that in the line.
Perfect, I'll use this to talk to the guys.

I don't expect to pick up any riders but who knows...some of the route is along popular rides (we come south on the west side of Keuka Lake, one of the finger lakes in NY state).

BTW, when i did this ride solo last year I got on google street view

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Old 08-21-19, 11:50 AM
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Many years ago I rode almost a 375 miler with 4 very experienced riders and we had a very steady pace-line most of the time (about 5min pulls). The route was flat and it was very easy to keep the pace line. I do not remember the average speed, but because of the pace-line it was way higher that other people riding single.

I also rode a 1000 km on a different ride and one rider pulled almost 90% of the entire ride(4 of us). He just could not sit in the back and rest, may be just for a few minutes once in a while.

It will also depend of the terrain. If the route is hilly, the pace-line will not work, riders will be climbing at different rate, especially after a few hours of riding. It may be more important to ride at your own pace. If it is important to keep a pace-line, it should be as slow as the slowest rider, so he or she could keep up.

200 miles is a long ride, the fatigue will set in eventually and the difference between the rider fitness and endurance will get bigger with millage, so the captain should decide how to ride it.
I would probably plan on riding as a pace-line initially, providing the ride is not hilly, but later on in the ride the team may split and ride at a different pace, just to gather at pre-planned places(if need be).
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Old 08-21-19, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Andrey View Post
Many years ago I rode almost a 375 miler with 4 very experienced riders and we had a very steady pace-line most of the time (about 5min pulls). The route was flat and it was very easy to keep the pace line. I do not remember the average speed, but because of the pace-line it was way higher that other people riding single.

I also rode a 1000 km on a different ride and one rider pulled almost 90% of the entire ride(4 of us). He just could not sit in the back and rest, may be just for a few minutes once in a while.

It will also depend of the terrain. If the route is hilly, the pace-line will not work, riders will be climbing at different rate, especially after a few hours of riding. It may be more important to ride at your own pace. If it is important to keep a pace-line, it should be as slow as the slowest rider, so he or she could keep up.

200 miles is a long ride, the fatigue will set in eventually and the difference between the rider fitness and endurance will get bigger with millage, so the captain should decide how to ride it.
I would probably plan on riding as a pace-line initially, providing the ride is not hilly, but later on in the ride the team may split and ride at a different pace, just to gather at pre-planned places(if need be).
375 miles? I assume that was a multi-day?

This route isn't hilly. It has a few climbs but we will ride those at our own pace and regroup as needed.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/30837702

Two riders recently completed Ironman Lake Placid so they are pretty fit. I have the most experience at longer rides. The fourth guy is the fittest I've seen him, very powerful rider, tends to go out too hard on long rides. My preference will be to paceline it as long as possible, pretty sure one (me) or two of us will end up doing most of the pulling in the second 100.
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Old 08-21-19, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by billyymc View Post
375 miles? I assume that was a multi-day?

This route isn't hilly. It has a few climbs but we will ride those at our own pace and regroup as needed.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/30837702

Two riders recently completed Ironman Lake Placid so they are pretty fit. I have the most experience at longer rides. The fourth guy is the fittest I've seen him, very powerful rider, tends to go out too hard on long rides. My preference will be to paceline it as long as possible, pretty sure one (me) or two of us will end up doing most of the pulling in the second 100.
You are right, it was a two day ride.
Sound like you guys are pretty fit, should be fun. Hopefully the weather will be nice !
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Old 08-21-19, 12:32 PM
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Went for a group ride last weekend. Mixed group of men and women and different abilities. Usually 15 to 16 average speed. Two racers showed up and decided we'd practice pace lines. Their choice was to have the line maintain speed, and the last person accelerate to the front. One person in the group would not slow down once he got to the front, so every circuit, the group had to catch up, and the person on the left had to really push to get in front of the guy. Pretty soon we're doing 18 to 20 mph. Not fun.
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Old 08-21-19, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Jack Tone View Post
Went for a group ride last weekend. Mixed group of men and women and different abilities. Usually 15 to 16 average speed. Two racers showed up and decided we'd practice pace lines. Their choice was to have the line maintain speed, and the last person accelerate to the front. One person in the group would not slow down once he got to the front, so every circuit, the group had to catch up, and the person on the left had to really push to get in front of the guy. Pretty soon we're doing 18 to 20 mph. Not fun.
That's backwards. Line should maintain a steady speed, and then when the rider on front pulls off, he or she will softpedal and drift to the back of the line. The last person should call out "last" or "end" and the rider drifting back slots in behind. There should be no acceleration except for the tiny bit of getting back on the pedals as you hook on the back.
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