Rainy Days Are Not The Time To Learn To Paceline
The pleasures of paceline riding are well known to those who have ridden them, but what is also evident is the nasty turn this joy takes during rainy weather. Of course, this rain-induced turn for the worse is not only limited to paceline riding, but a paceline becomes particularly nasty and dangerous when it’s wet. Who wants a face full of the muck and spray that flies off the rear wheel of the rider in front of you, and why would anyone wish to make an already dangerous pursuit much more so…? While racers have no choice in this matter, if I don’t have to ride in the rain, I would rather stay warm and dry at home.
The Club’s Monday and Friday rides often include long flat stretches where Club members form pacelines; as small as a few cyclists to as many as eight. But the weather of late has “rained on our parade.”It would be unwise to ride (or learn to ride in) a paceline under anything but suitable conditions. However, as spring approaches there will be many more chances to learn and practice riding in a paceline.
You say, pacelines are for racers or only the fastest rider. Not true. A paceline is an efficient and enjoyable way to ride a bicycle. Experienced riders are usually willing to share their knowledge. And even the most experienced paceline riders can learn new techniques.
A few pointers for the less experienced or those with no experience:
Remember that smoothness is very important. Practice riding a straight line with as little extraneous movement as possible, particularly in your upper body. A smooth rider is much easier and predictable to draft. I’ve found that riding on a bike lane strip (which is about 6 inches wide) is a great way to practice holding your line.
In spite of the great fun of paceline riding, safety is still the number one concern. Stay aware at all times, particularly of traffic, road conditions, and the situation others in the paceline face — don’t slam on your brakes, swerve abruptly, or push your rear wheel back by standing up suddenly.
Whether you are riding in a paceline or not – don’t depend on others for your safety. While it is important that those in the group warn others of traffic and road conditions, your own safety is ultimately up to you. Look at least 10-15 feet ahead (fight the urge to stare at the rear wheel of the rider in front), and remain cognizant of cars to the front and rear.
While it is often considered poor form to be a “wheelsucker” (one who never takes a pull at the front), such behavior is perfectly fine for Club rides, as there will most likely be some disparity in riding levels. If you can only “hang” by drafting, move off the front as soon as the previous rider has gotten clear and it is safe to do so. Don’t feel guilty for doing your best!.
There are far more tips and techniques to be learned and the best way to learn them is to get out and ride a paceline! Hope to see you on a future Club ride..