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Race/Fast Pace Line Etiquette

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Race/Fast Pace Line Etiquette

Old 05-23-19, 08:59 AM
  #1  
Psychocycles
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Race/Fast Pace Line Etiquette

I'm relatively new to racing and group riding and trying to learn all I can so I don't make stupid dangerous mistakes. One thing I noticed is that when I roll off the front of my race, and try to take 4th or 5th place in the line, often time the guy who occupies that space won't let me in and I end up riding parallel to the paceline for quite some time trying to squeeze my way in (safely). This obviously is a huge waste of power but as I'm one of the workhorses for my team, I can hardly rotate to the back of the 30+ person group and still expect to contribute at the front.

What is the etiquette? Am I wrong to try to squeeze in between the 3rd-6th place at the front or are they wrong to not let me in? Of course, in racing I don't take anything personally as they know it costs me more energy to ride outside so it's in their interest to do so...but I wanted to know whether if I press the issue by edging them out would I be in the wrong?

As I absolutely do not want to cause a crash, what other tips/tricks should I be aware of while riding in a race? I'm Cat 5, obviously, but want to ride at the level of a Cat 3/2. My personal bike handling skills are average/slightly above average so I don't have too many concerns about handling my bike, just mostly about what type of situations to avoid and where I would be in the wrong / right. Right now I'm pretty scared to act in any risky way because I don't know if it's 'allowed' or if that type of riding would be bad on my end (but it's costing me energy in the race and I know I need to conserve energy as much as possible too).
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Old 05-23-19, 09:06 AM
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Depends of you're talking about training vs racing. If training, you rotate off the front and drift to the back - presumably that's what everyone else does. You might be one of the "workhorses" of the team, but doesn't everyone take a pull at the front, or does your group have 5-6 "workhorses" rotating at the front and everyone else just trailing behind? What sort of a team is that? If, during a group ride, someone rotated off the front and attempted to muscle in in front of me without me expressly offering them a gap, they might get yelled at.

I imagine during racing it's a little bit more rough & tumble. Assuming during a race, the large group comprises riders from multiple teams, so why would a rider from an opposing team go out of his way to accommodate one of your teams "workhorses" and let you in? It's to his teams advantage for you to be relegated to the rear of the group. It's to your teams advantage to ensure that you aren't, so you muscle in. On the other hand, maybe you want to be at the back, so that other teams' riders are doing the work? Depends on the stage of the race, I suppose.

Last edited by Litespud; 05-23-19 at 09:24 AM.
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Old 05-23-19, 09:21 AM
  #3  
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i've not raced for many years, but I have to think tactics / strategy /etiquette is basically the same:

is this a 30 person, single file paceline? to me that would be strange in a race. I guess that would happen in the pro / 1/ 2s, but not the 3/4s. much more of a scrum in the 3/4 races.
or is it training? also strange as we would have done a double pace line. Then you pull off with your 'partner' and drift back and keep things orderly.
- so if it's a paceline, then just drift to the back and get back in line. If it's training, then your just being a menace trying to force your way into a paceline.
- if it's a race and you want off the front to take a break, then things are bunched up with people jockeying for position to stay out of the wind. So it should be OK to drift back 6 / 10 places and get in behind the bunch.
- - AND if it's a race you need to have a reason to be on the front - a specific purpose - don't waste your energy!
- are you blocking to slow the pack down for a team mate up the road?
- are you chasing a break because you have no team mate up the road?
- are you setting a team mate up for a sprint finish / prime' prize? - a have a freaking reason for being on the front.

Anyway - that's a worthless 2 cents from a retired CAT III - pack-fodder semi-nobody - (now, let's go figure out the most quite, casual, grumpy old man route to the coffee shop.....)

PS: if you're new to pacelines - please - please - keep the pace STEADY. I see the touristas do this all the time: # 1 guy pulls off to go back; #2 gal gives it an acceleration (for what?!?!); # 3 guy now has to accelerate to close the gap; # 4 'racer-Joe' now practically has to jump / sprint to close that gap - and now # 1 guy is sprinting after his pull to get on the back.
- if you want to speed up a paceline -that's fine. Wait for the rider that just pulled off to get on. Then SLOWLY speed up. VERY slowly so everyone can act / react.
OK - that's it. rant over. thanks.

Last edited by mrv; 05-23-19 at 09:25 AM. Reason: PS
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Old 05-23-19, 09:23 AM
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If it's a team training ride...just ask them what to do.

If it's a race...I'm honestly not sure, I have the same question/problem myself. Kinda one of the reasons I'm throwing in the towel on crits...it seems a healthy dose of suicidal tendancies is a prereq for successfully crit racing lol
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Old 05-23-19, 09:25 AM
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If you are just riding tempo at the front, they are stupid not to let you in. You are giving them a free ride to the finish or reeling the break back. Find the most tentative rider in the line near where you want to be and ride really close next to him. As soon as he moves off the wheel to creat space between the two of you, take his position. This also works with riders who ride to the side of a wheel instead of on the wheel. Will they like it, probably not.
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Old 05-23-19, 09:27 AM
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Post this in the racing subforum. I believe that carpediemracing has some good advice on how to "force" yourself into a position.

EDIT: Go here: https://www.bikeforums.net/33-road-bike-racing/
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Old 05-23-19, 09:29 AM
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I've encountered the same in fast group rides. I do a fair amount of pulling up front, some people are content to hang out in the back (or aren't strong/confident enough to take pulls). I don't mind pulling, but I don't want to slide all the way to the back either. If a spot isn't opening up towards the front, I'll just point to the right and ask the person if I can slide in. Most people are more than happy to let someone else stay up front and keep pulling, so they let me in. As mentioned above, I would imagine a race scenario would be different, but I haven't done any group racing yet, just TTs.

I just look at it as getting a better workout, the people hanging out in the back aren't going to get any stronger.
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Old 05-23-19, 09:29 AM
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Ah, in a race there is literally no reason to really "pull" at the front unless you're in a breakaway, chasing a break, or working for your team in some predefined manner. A race is not a group ride, your goal should be to conserve, conserve, and conserve. If you find yourself at the front of the pack, with no breakaway in front of you, and no chance to solo breakaway off the front (would be stupid try normally anyway) just go slow, expend very little energy, the guys behind you will likely ball up, and a couple might begin to meander around and in front of you then you can match your pace behind them.

A common tactic too is to get to the front, wait for a hill, then go at a slower pace up the hill then everyone else, letting them gradually slip past you and purposefully ending up near the middle or back by the time you're at the top of the hill. This helps to massively conserve energy as you essentially forced everyone else to work significantly harder up the hill.

All in all, in a race there is no reason whatsoever for people to let you in a wheel or two back at the front of the main group after you pulled at the front. Everyone in the main group of the race who is not on your team is actively trying to make you do more work then them, and it can be quite hard to maintain decent positioning so they absolutely wouldn't give it up.

Now a breakaway is another story, if you're pulling in the break, then people should happily let you go in front of them, because that would mean that you end up pulling more than them, so careful in that situation too.

Group rides are different altogether, normally it is considerably more organized than a race because people are working on skills like rotating pacelines, echelons, etc. If you take a nice pull at the front and ask kindly to be let in a few wheels back, unless the guys you're passing up REALLY want to pull, they normally would let you in without issue. However, it's more common practice to simply go to the back when you're done pulling.
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Old 05-23-19, 09:30 AM
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I should have separated my question a bit better - This question is geared entirely towards racing as in training/group rides, I would just ask the person to let me in, and if they don't want to let me in, no biggie, I can rotate to the back as it's just a ride. But in a race, I need to be near the front as I would be the guy to expend energy chasing down breaks, keeping the pace high to avoid attacks, or just in general to respond to things which I can't do if I'm 25th or 30th wheel. Also, as I'm in the 4/5 group, I do not want to be further back than 10 wheels as that's usually where the crashes happen and I'd rather spend extra energy during the race and avoid possible accidents than save energy but take that risk.

To answer mrv's questions, when the pace is high, even in the 4/5 group, it turns into a single paceline but at times can turn into mayhem, but it's usually pretty well organized for 4/5.
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Old 05-23-19, 11:41 AM
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Just google carpediemracing and how to take a wheel (or something like that) and you will find the info that you are looking for.

Second, learn to take wheels. It is infinitely easier to take a wheel than defend one. Therefore do not try to defend wheels as much as take them. I can defend a wheel pretty ferociously but it requires very dirty riding and I'll lose the wheel in a minute or two of very intense battle, and probably make a lot of enemies doing it. In contrast I can take a wheel in about 15 seconds, gently, smoothly, with no choice on the other rider's part. Learn to take wheels rather than trying to defend your spot.

The trick to taking wheels is to back into the spot. If you want to take Rider A's wheel, get up sort of next to or slightly behind him, then move over a bit. Start with your knuckles about 1" from A's hip (small Sphere makes this possible). Then sort of drift back a bit while your knuckles move so that they're close to his rear wheel plane. You've only moved over about 6" but there's virtually no way someone can keep you off A's wheel. This is one of the absolute secret to racing effectively. It's mindblowing how effective this move is, how impossible it is to defend against it, etc. I have a couple hundred pages of racing tactic stuff written down but if I condensed it to one page this concept would stay on it.

Last edited by Homebrew01; 05-23-19 at 11:53 AM. Reason: Removed OT content
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Old 05-23-19, 11:52 AM
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club ride or race, there is ALWAYS someone in the group say 10-15 bike back that is un willing to rotate and will stay there sucking wheels, never taking a pull into the wind. Find that person and file in front of them, you will make them happy you are there and they don't have to work. Flip side, Don't be stuck behind him/her either
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Old 05-23-19, 11:58 AM
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In my experience, the best way to take a wheel is to use a corner or a crosswind to your advantage. Let the group come across your front wheel.
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Old 05-23-19, 12:04 PM
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Old 05-23-19, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
In my experience, the best way to take a wheel is to use a corner or a crosswind to your advantage. Let the group come across your front wheel.
That's normally my approach.
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Old 05-23-19, 03:39 PM
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Get your handlebars in front of theirs, scoot over into them a bit, essentially onto the hip of the guy behind whom you want to slot, and slow up just a tad (you're still pedaling; don't ever just randomly sit up and coast). As you slow up, they slow and you slot in. Otherwise they put their hood into your hip and slow up, too, again allowing you in.

Note that this is very subtle and by slowing I'm talking 10ths of a mile an hour and very smooth and predictable.

You can also juts roll up beside them and put your handelbars into their handlebars or your elbows into theirs. I wouln't recommend this in lower categories where the other person (or you) will probably overreact and fall over, but it can work to varying degrees at higher levels.
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Old 05-23-19, 03:51 PM
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The trick to taking wheels is to back into the spot. If you want to take Rider A's wheel, get up sort of next to or slightly behind him, then move over a bit. Start with your knuckles about 1" from A's hip (small Sphere makes this possible). Then sort of drift back a bit while your knuckles move so that they're close to his rear wheel plane. You've only moved over about 6" but there's virtually no way someone can keep you off A's wheel. This is one of the absolute secret to racing effectively. It's mindblowing how effective this move is, how impossible it is to defend against it, etc.r.
Yes, this is it.

To defend it (if you're so inclined. As mentioned, sometimes it's easier just to retake a wheel somewhere else) you drive your handlebar into the person's hip/thigh as you lean the other direction, or just reach up and push them off with your hand. Technically you're not supposed to do that. In real life that happens ad infinitum at the pointy end.

Keep in mind if you're doing things like that, it's good to be aware of who you're doing it to and at what point of the race. It's generally frowned upon to do that to someone on their teammate's wheel in a leadout situation unless they just let you do it (i.e., they don't belong there anyway). If you act too aggressively, too, it can really piss people off. Maybe not such a big deal in huge racing locales, but repeated behavior like that in local areas where you're racing the same people repeatedly can cause unneeded consternation and really come back to bite you in subsequent races.

And if you don't have 100% confidence that you can do these things safely (for you AND everyone else), definitely don't do the stuff. At the end of the day, crashing is the last thing anyone wants to do. Don't be a person that makes people even think that they're going to be crashed out.

Last edited by rubiksoval; 05-23-19 at 03:55 PM.
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Old 05-23-19, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by PepeM View Post
Just google carpediemracing and how to take a wheel (or something like that) and you will find the info that you are looking for.
This quote is fantastic. Absolutely true in my experience, but I think defending wheels is a necessary skill sometimes - for example for a lead out. That being said, I have experienced first hand how mind-blowingly difficult (and unpleasant) it is to defend a specific wheel. And I consider myself a fairly good (but maybe inexperienced) wheel stealer and defender.
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Old 05-23-19, 04:27 PM
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I raced with and against a guy who was well known to let riders "dangle"; showing them an opportunity to cut in like you want/expect, then surging forward and closing the door. Enough times and that dangling rider was cooked. Remember, this is racing. If it is not to his/his team's advantage to let you in, he is under no obligation to do so. If he can wear you out, well that's one less competitor to worry about.

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Old 05-23-19, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
yes, this is it.

To defend it (if you're so inclined. As mentioned, sometimes it's easier just to retake a wheel somewhere else) you drive your handlebar into the person's hip/thigh as you lean the other direction, or just reach up and push them off with your hand. Technically you're not supposed to do that. In real life that happens ad infinitum at the pointy end.

Keep in mind if you're doing things like that, it's good to be aware of who you're doing it to and at what point of the race. It's generally frowned upon to do that to someone on their teammate's wheel in a leadout situation unless they just let you do it (i.e., they don't belong there anyway). If you act too aggressively, too, it can really piss people off. Maybe not such a big deal in huge racing locales, but repeated behavior like that in local areas where you're racing the same people repeatedly can cause unneeded consternation and really come back to bite you in subsequent races.

And if you don't have 100% confidence that you can do these things safely (for you and everyone else), definitely don't do the stuff. At the end of the day, crashing is the last thing anyone wants to do. don't be a person that makes people even think that they're going to be crashed out.
qft
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Old 05-23-19, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Psychocycles View Post
... But in a race, I need to be near the front as I would be the guy to expend energy chasing down breaks, keeping the pace high to avoid attacks, or just in general to respond to things which I can't do if I'm 25th or 30th wheel. ...
And why would your competitor find it in his best interest to let a guy in who is going to chase his teammate down or himself if he has plans to go later? Prevent an attack from perhaps himself?
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Old 05-24-19, 07:51 AM
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If others are working wtf would you want to squeeze in and work?

Slot in and save your jam for later or until something selective happens. Seriously. Why go to the front at the start of the race and waste yourself? This makes no sense.
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Old 05-24-19, 08:07 AM
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It's interesting to learn there are teams that compete at the cat 5 level!
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Old 05-24-19, 10:41 AM
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Training I expect everyone to take a turn so go to the back. If you are a "workhorse" pull longer. Racing I would be more than happy to let you slot in 4th or 5th in front of me and take an extra turn, do that as many times as you would like
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Old 05-24-19, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina View Post
If others are working wtf would you want to squeeze in and work?

Slot in and save your jam for later or until something selective happens. Seriously. Why go to the front at the start of the race and waste yourself? This makes no sense.
Cat 5s gonna Cat 5.
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Old 05-24-19, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
It's interesting to learn there are teams that compete at the cat 5 level!
Misnomer - there are riders who wear the same jersey that enter the same race as cat 5's. Many think of themselves as a "team".
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