Group rides can be magical.

Single up

Transitioning from riding side-by-side to riding single file should be done in an orderly manner. Typically this is done to accommodate other traffic, such as a vehicle that’s overtaking the group. Your club may have another system, but here’s the one I advocate. Riders nearest the curb continue doing what they were doing (riding steady state) while those out in traffic choose a course of action: speed up, slow down, drop into an opening in the curb-side line, whatever. Mostly I see frantic sprints where several riders try to accelerate to make a gap in the line, or I hear chatter “You go ahead” “Can I drop in behind you?” Have a standard procedure and adhere to it. Otherwise your organized ride looks more like the Keystone Cops on bikes.

Group rides

Group rides can be magical or they can be misery. Group rides take many forms. Club rides. Charity rides. Training rides. Two riders or two hundred. On roads and on trails. Doesn’t matter. Here’s how to make group rides of all kinds safer and more enjoyable.
Born2Roam.com
All content, including images, copyright R Ries Corporation unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.
Words. Images. Information. Just for you!

Handling hazards

Call out hazards in advance. Be consistent in what you call them and when you call them. Ride around them fluidly and early; this isn’t giant slalom and you’re not skiing so there’s no advantage to getting right on top of a hazard before veering off. All that does is put the rider behind you at risk of hitting the hazard. If you can’t avoid a hazard, hop it. Be sure to communicate your intention to hop, again so the rider behind you can be prepared. If you can’t bunny hop, learn. In the picture my buddies David Stucker (yellow jersey) and the late Byron Nagel measure the width of a road hazard. My helmet shows the depth of the hole.

Road ride regroup

The tendency for road ride leaders is to regroup at intersections. Don’t. A high percentage of multi- vehicle accidents occur at intersections. Other road users don’t need the risk and complexity of an intersection compounded by a bunch of cyclists milling aimlessly around and clogging up lane space. Stop well short of the intersection (50+ yards) or ride through the intersection and stop well past it. Good regrouping sites have long sight distances for the upcoming riders and for other road users. Getting off the road is great; in the photo our group stopped where a family was selling produce out of the back of their minivan in a parking lot. And don’t immediately launch when the last rider rolls up. The rest of you have had a break for recovery; grant the same courtesy to that last rider.

MTB ride regroup: Bell…issimo

One day while mountain biking I found myself amid a group of 15 or so women riding the same trail. They would stop periodically to regroup. Each had a bell on her bike and they’d ding their bells when they stopped. Each bell was different and therefore each tone was different. “Oh, that’s Tammy. She sounds close.” “Has anybody heard Ellen yet? Never mind. That was her bell just now.” It was brilliant. It allowed them to keep track of one another without obnoxious hollering back and forth and the sound of those bells enhanced the riding experience for me. It was beautiful. Finding different bells is actually pretty easy; even the ubiquitous Incredibell  comes in like a dozen styles.

Pacelining, part 1 - Introduction

This 4-part series on pacelining will cover single pacelines; there are other forms but on roads not closed to traffic, a single paceline is all that works. Single pacelines work best in light winds from any direction or in heavier winds that are no more than a quartering headwind. In other words if your group were riding due north, the wind would be between 315 degree and 45 degrees (northwest to northeast wind). Advantages of a paceline are higher speed with reduced individual effort and, mainly, they’re fun and exhilarating. As a member of a paceline, your key attributes are not strength and speed, but consistency and predictability. As with any multi- cylinder engine, a paceline works best when each component does exactly what it’s supposed to do exactly when it’s supposed to do it. A paceline isn’t about you; it’s about us, all of us sharing the responsibility and joy of a well-coordinated effort. Pacelines work with as few as two riders; more than 10 gets unwieldy. For reference, World Tour Team Time Trials have at most nine riders. Pacelines work best on flat-to-rolling terrain; serious climbs and descents amplify discrepancies in riders’ styles and abilities and break a paceline apart. It’s assumed that you’ve read the Legal page of this site, but let me reiterate your safety is your responsibility. Ride appropriately for conditions, including your skills and the skills of the other riders in your group. And remember that unless you’re on a closed circuit, your first first concern is operating safely and courteously amid other road users.

Pacelining, part 2 - In line

This is the first place your consistency is required. Everything you do, from pedaling to slowing to turning, is nuanced. If a gap opens between you and the rider ahead of you, close it again steadily, not quickly, and decrease your effort so that you reconnect with no need to slow. You’ll just drift into position. If you need to slow at any time, take these steps in this order: soft pedal (apply minimal pressure while still pedaling), coast, sit up, move slightly out of the slipstream and into the wind. If you must brake — and it really must be a last resort — feather the brake and alert the rider behind with “Slowing” or a similar announcement. Your turns should follow the same arc as the rider ahead of you. A paceline should look like a ribbon dance…not the dancer, the ribbon…and never like an accordion or a horizontal Slinky. You should leave as much gap between you and the next rider as conditions dictate. Those conditions include the skill of the group and your own skill, the intensity required for you to maintain the paceline’s pace, the amount of other traffic, sight distances and changes in the grade (incline/decline) of the road. In the photo our group is leaving ample space, enough to still derive benefit from riding in a line but not so close that pacelining requires full concentration. Gaps of one to three feet are common; maintaining a gap of less than a foot is optimal but requires great skill and cooperation from all group members. (My gap and position are not meant to be instructive; my goal at this moment was to shoot video, not run a perfect paceline. Look at the other three riders instead.) Never allow your front wheel to overlap the rear wheel of the rider in front of you; if that rider swerves and your wheels make contact, you have a high probability of crashing. If you’re riding solo or with one or two others and a paceline overtakes you, ask permission to join before you tack onto the back. The same courtesy applies on the rare occasion you overtake a paceline and want to join to recover from an effort.

Pacelining, part 3 - Taking a pull

This is where your consistency is critical. The tendency is to speed up when it’s your turn at the front. Don’t do it. Maintain the same speed as the group had prior to you taking the lead. If the grade changes, focus on maintaining the same intensity, not the same speed. When you enter a climb, keep a higher intensity until the last rider in the group is on the climb; if you slow early the last riders will overtake the riders ahead of them and have to scrub speed, disrupting the flow of the paceline. Any changes to speed or intensity must be done smoothly. They can be done quickly, but not abruptly. Establish rules about the length of the pull and adhere to them. I used 300 divided by the number of riders to yield pedal strokes. (Each time your right foot comes over the top is one pedal stroke. Or your left foot, if you prefer.) So with 10 riders, each would pull for 30 pedal strokes. With 3 riders, each would do 100 pedal strokes. The goal is to balance effort and recovery based on the number of riders. If you can’t do your full stroke count, pull off early rather than dropping the group’s intensity/speed. Announce hazards and steer around debris early. Again, you MUST be superconsistent in everything you do. At paceline speeds with typical paceline gaps between riders, the following riders cannot respond to unexpected actions before they pile into the rider ahead of them. Synaptic timing is just not fast enough.

Pacelining, part 4 - Pulling off

When you’ve completed your pull, indicate your intention to pull off. Pros typically flick an elbow to the side they’re pulling off to. That sign is too subtle and quick for most recreational riders so something else is recommended; my buddy Byron used to put one hand behind his back and make a clenched fist. Ideally you’ll pull off to the windward side, protecting other riders briefly from the wind as you trail to the back of the paceline. Whether you can do this depends on traffic; more commonly, you’ll pull off to the traffic side (e.g. left in the U.S., right in the U.K.). Be absolutely certain there will be no traffic conflicts before pulling off. Don’t slow excessively or you’ll have to accelerate to regain contact once the last rider gets clear of you. After a hard pull you may not have enough strength to regain contact. So you want to drift back, not fall back. Stay mentally focused once you’re at the back. Don’t let fatigue from the pull dull your attentiveness.
© All content, including images, copyright R Ries Corporation unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.

Group rides

Group rides can be magical or they can be misery. Group rides take many forms. Club rides. Charity rides. Training rides. Two riders or two hundred. On roads and on trails. Doesn’t matter. Here’s how to make group rides of all kinds safer and more enjoyable.
Handling hazards Call out hazards in advance. Be consistent in what you call them and when you call them. Ride around them fluidly and early; this isn’t giant slalom and you’re not skiing so there’s no advantage to getting right on top of a hazard before veering off. All that does is put the rider behind you at risk of hitting the hazard. If you can’t avoid a hazard, hop it. Be sure to communicate your intention to hop, again so the rider behind you can be prepared. If you can’t bunny hop, learn. In the picture my buddies David Stucker (yellow jersey) and the late Byron Nagel measure the width of a road hazard. My helmet shows the depth of the hole.

Single up

Transitioning from riding side-by-side to riding single file should be done in an orderly manner. Typically this is done to accommodate other traffic, such as a vehicle that’s overtaking the group. Your club may have another system, but here’s the one I advocate. Riders nearest the curb continue doing what they were doing (riding steady state) while those out in traffic choose a course of action: speed up, slow down, drop into an opening in the curb-side line, whatever. Mostly I see frantic sprints where several riders try to accelerate to make a gap in the line, or I hear chatter “You go ahead” “Can I drop in behind you?” Have a standard procedure and adhere to it. Otherwise your organized ride looks more like the Keystone Cops on bikes.
Born2Roam.com
Words. Images. Research. Just for you!

MTB ride regroup: Bell…issimo

One day while mountain biking I found myself amid a group of 15 or so women riding the same trail. They would stop periodically to regroup. Each had a bell on her bike and they’d ding their bells when they stopped. Each bell was different and therefore each tone was different. “Oh, that’s Tammy. She sounds close.” “Has anybody heard Ellen yet? Never mind. That was her bell just now.” It was brilliant. It allowed them to keep track of one another without obnoxious hollering back and forth and the sound of those bells actually enhanced the riding experience for me. It was beautiful. Finding different bells is actually pretty easy; even the ubiquitous Incredibell  comes in like a dozen styles.

Road ride regroup

The tendency for road ride leaders is to regroup at intersections. Don’t. A high percentage of multi-vehicle accidents occur at intersections. Other road users don’t need the risk and and complexity of an intersection compounded by a bunch of cyclists milling aimlessly around and clogging up lane space. Stop well short of the intersection (50+ yards) or ride through the intersection and stop well past it. Good regrouping sites have long sight distances for the upcoming riders and for other road users. Getting off the road is great; in the photo our group stopped where a family was selling produce out of the back of their minivan in a parking lot. And don’t immediately launch when the last rider rolls up. The rest of you have had a break for recovery; grant the same courtesy to that last rider.

Pacelining, part 1 - Introduction

This 4-part series on pacelining will cover single pacelines; there are other forms but on roads not closed to traffic, a single paceline is all that works. Single pacelines work best in light winds from any direction or in heavier winds that are no more than a quartering headwind. In other words if your group were riding due north, the wind would be between 315 degree and 45 degrees (northwest to northeast wind). Advantages of a paceline are higher speed with reduced individual effort and, mainly, they’re fun and exhilarating. As a member of a paceline, your key attributes are not strength and speed, but consistency and predictability. As with any multi-cylinder engine, a paceline works best when each component does exactly what it’s supposed to do exactly when it’s supposed to do it. A paceline isn’t about you; it’s about us, all of us sharing the responsibility and joy of a well-coordinated effort. Pacelines work with as few as two riders; more than 10 gets unwieldy. For reference, World Tour Team Time Trials have at most nine riders. Pacelines work best on flat-to-rolling terrain; serious climbs and descents amplify discrepancies in riders’ styles and abilities and break a paceline apart. It’s assumed that you’ve read the Legal page of this site, but let me reiterate your safety is your responsibility. Ride appropriately for conditions, including your skills and the skills of the other riders in your group. And remember that unless you’re on a closed circuit, your first first concern is operating safely and courteously amid other road users.

Pacelining, part 2 - In line

This is the first place your consistency is required. Everything you do, from pedaling to slowing to turning, is nuanced. If a gap opens between you and the rider ahead of you, close it again steadily, not quickly, and decrease your effort so that you reconnect with no need to slow. You’ll just drift into position. If you need to slow at any time, take these steps in this order: soft pedal (apply minimal pressure while still pedaling), coast, sit up, move slightly out of the slipstream and into the wind. If you must brake — and it really must be a last resort — feather the brake and alert the rider behind with “Slowing” or a similar announcement. Your turns should follow the same arc as the rider ahead of you. A paceline should look like a ribbon dance…not the dancer, the ribbon…and never like an accordion or a horizontal Slinky. You should leave as much gap between you and the next rider as conditions dictate. Those conditions include the skill of the group and your own skill, the intensity required for you to maintain the paceline’s pace, the amount of other traffic, sight distances and changes in the grade (incline/decline) of the road. In the photo our group is leaving ample space, enough to still derive benefit from riding in a line but not so close that pacelining requires full concentration. Gaps of one to three feet are common; maintaining a gap of less than a foot is optimal but requires great skill and cooperation from all group members. (My gap and position are not meant to be instructive; my goal at this moment was to shoot video, not run a perfect paceline. Look at the other three riders instead.) Never allow your front wheel to overlap the rear wheel of the rider in front of you; if that rider swerves and your wheels make contact, you have a high probability of crashing. If you’re riding solo or with one or two others and a paceline overtakes you, ask permission to join before you tack onto the back. The same courtesy applies on the rare occasion you overtake a paceline and want to join to recover from an effort.

Pacelining, part 3 - Taking a pull

This is where your consistency is critical. The tendency is to speed up when it’s your turn at the front. Don’t do it. Maintain the same speed as the group had prior to you taking the lead. If the grade changes, focus on maintaining the same intensity, not the same speed. When you enter a climb, keep a higher intensity until the last rider in the group is on the climb; if you slow early the last riders will overtake the riders ahead of them and have to scrub speed, disrupting the flow of the paceline. Any changes to speed or intensity must be done smoothly. They can be done quickly, but not abruptly. Establish rules about the length of the pull and adhere to them. I used 300 divided by the number of riders to yield pedal strokes. (Each time your right foot comes over the top is one pedal stroke. Or your left foot, if you prefer.) So with 10 riders, each would pull for 30 pedal strokes. With 3 riders, each would do 100 pedal strokes. The goal is to balance effort and recovery based on the number of riders. If you can’t do your full stroke count, pull off early rather than dropping the group’s intensity/speed. Announce hazards and steer around debris early. Again, you MUST be superconsistent in everything you do. At paceline speeds with typical paceline gaps between riders, the following riders cannot respond to unexpected actions before they pile into the rider ahead of them. Synaptic timing is just not fast enough.

Pacelining, part 4 - Pulling off

When you’ve completed your pull, indicate your intention to pull off. Pros typically flick an elbow to the side they’re pulling off to. That sign is too subtle and quick for most recreational riders so something else is recommended; my buddy Byron used to put one hand behind his back and make a clenched fist. Ideally you’ll pull off to the windward side, protecting other riders briefly from the wind as you trail to the back of the paceline. Whether you can do this depends on traffic; more commonly, you’ll pull off to the traffic side (left in the U.S., right in the U.K.). Be absolutely certain there will be no traffic conflicts before pulling off. Don’t slow excessively or you’ll have to accelerate to regain contact once the last rider gets clear of you. After a hard pull you may not have enough strength to regain contact. So you want to drift back, not fall back. Stay mentally focused once you’re at the back. Don’t let fatigue from the pull dull your attentiveness.