Tip: How to stay cool in a pace line

QuickTipsfeature1-300x92If you have been riding for a while and riding in club rides or races you have been introduced to the pace line. Love them or hate them they are fast and nerve racking at times. There are some things you can do to relax and enjoy the advantages of a pace line.

Do not look at the rear wheel in front of you if you must look down, look at the hub of the front wheel of the rider in front of you. If the rider is riding anxiously you will see their move at the front hub and not the rear wheel first.

If you must slow down in the pace line then learn how to scrub speed. Do this by lightly feathering the breaks, sitting up in the saddle to catch wind in your chest and or move just to the left of the draft and catch a bit of the wind.

Still feeling twitchy or your riding partners are telling you that you are riding like a squirrel? Simply look over the shoulder of the rider in front of you past the front of the pace line and visualize where your bike is headed not where it is.

Need to drink or eat in a pace line? Do it towards the back of the line where your actions are less likely to disrupt the pace setting.

Need to stand up to climb in a pace line? Shift into a bigger gear and at the same time say “standing” and push a bit harder than you normally would for a couple revolutions of the crank. This will help keep your rear wheel from surging backwards into the person behind you and let them know what you are doing.

3 Comments on “Tip: How to stay cool in a pace line”

  1. They say you shouldn’t ride in a pace line with strangers. But even with people I know, I’m uneasy. I think what bothers me most is not being able to see the road ahead and anticipate any irregularities in the surface. I like the feeling of going fast with little effort, but wonder if my uneasiness offsets any gains I might enjoy from a pace line.

    I am not a racer, but our weekend club rides can generate some intense pace lines.

  2. Hi Bike Noob,

    I know what you mean. The first season I took hard club riding seriously I felt dread every time I got into a fast pace line or worse, a 2 up pace line. I learned to overcome those fears by practicing a few things, relaxation, handling skills and repetition. To ride confidently at speed you need to be relaxed. This means keeping your elbows bent, riding in the drops, breathing and not working harder than is necessary. Developing pack riding skills takes time but if you want a jump start sign up for a skills camp. A skills camp will have you ride with a mix of new and seasoned riders in an easy and non competitive environment where a coach will instruct everyone on how to ride in the various pace line formations. Putting yourself in situations that you are not comfortable with takes a huge heart and the more you do it the more you get use to it! I also gained quite a bit of confidence by riding rollers in the off season. Rollers won’t help you develop leg strength but they will do wonders for balance, focus, legs speed and becoming comfortable riding a straight line.

    I will be hosting a Spring Skills Camp in Central Kentucky if you are interested in attending let me know and I will put you on the email list.

    Coach Rob

  3. Coach,
    I’ve had two difficult crashes this year which were pretty much outa my control. My self talk , ” I’m never get’n back on a bike, etc”. But the addiction just won’t let go. After much soul searching, Here’s my thoughts and behavior modification.

    Paceline. Second crash occurres when guy in front hit stick went through spokes and over he went then me. Separated should and surgery. I no longer will paceline with unknowns. If squarely, I’m oughta there. I also ride little farther off wheel and to one side or other.

    And I have slowed down. First crash this year involved ice in dark corner. Dry day. Never rains in California:) But water seeped across part of road in shade from artesian well and nearby earth dam. Now downhill, turns are viewed very suspiciously and way slower.

    So racing days are over but for TT’s and hill climbs. I’m an old guy, 71. Perhaps I’d feel differently if I was a young whipper snapper, say, 50. But reflexes are well, not so good and heal time is galacial.


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