A rotating paceline line is just that--in constant rotation at a constant pace. Everyone pulls
through, continually moving through the accelerating line, off to
the receding line and then back on to the accelerating line.
Here's what a pros' single rotating paceline looks like: Link
To do a rotating paceline you should already be very
comfortable riding closely in groups. In pacelines, ideally
you'll need to be within 12-18 inches of the wheel in front of
you and the rider next to you. You must concentrate. To review
how to ride in groups generally, see
Group riding. To understand how SPBC rides, see SPBC
Group Riding Practices.
You should be fit enough to ride at the determined pace for
the entire ride. That means at a 24 mph pace, you'll be at 23-24
mph except when turning or slowing for lights, stop signs, etc.
In a group of 10, that means that 10 percent of time, you'll be
pulling the group. The rest of the time, you might expend about
30% less energy than the rider pulling—but you'll still be
going 23-24 mph.
Please consider carefully the above before joining a paceline.
If you want to try it, here's what we think you need to know:
It's about the group, not you.
What determines whether the ride is great is whether at the
end the group feels like it's accomplished something together.
Every move you make should help the group maintain the pace and
Single Rotating Pacelines
Single rotating pacelines should rotate into the
wind, meaning if the wind is coming from the left, you
rotate counter-clockwise. If the wind is from the right, you
rotate clockwise. With a direct headwind or tailwind, the
direction isn't as important. One thing to consider, however, is
that if it doesn't make a difference from an energy usage
standpoint, rotate clockwise so the left line is passing the
right line, as that adheres to Florida law regarding when you can
be out of a bike lane or not “as far right as
This is especially true if you don't know all riders in the
paceline. To this end:
Talk to one another, when necessary.
Call out “Last” when you are
beside the last person in the receding line. That tells him to
get ready to move over into the advancing line. If you don't call
out, many times he'll need to accelerate to catch your wheel,
which we don't want to do. It's especially important to call
“Last” if the order of the riders has changed.
Generally, look to move into the advancing line when your front
wheel is about even with the last advancing rider's bottom
Call out “Clear” when it's safe
for the lead rider in the advancing line to move over to the
receding line without hitting your wheel.
Steady is paramount
Do not surge when you become the lead rider.
Your goal is to maintain the same speed you had when you were on
the previous leader's wheel. You don't need to look at your
speedometer. Maintain the same gearing with the same
cadence. It will feel harder as you now have no
protection, but you will maintain the same speed. To help
yourself, get lower to reduce wind resistance.
You should spend only a few seconds at the head of a rotating
paceline before pulling off.
Pulling off the front
Pull off to the receding line as soon as you pass the front
wheel of the first receding line rider. She should call
“Clear,” but if she doesn't, use your
peripheral vision. When you can no longer see the
receding rider in your peripheral vision or you overlap by about
one-quarter the receding rider's front wheel, begin to move over.
Do not go a bike length or more past them before moving over.
Again, it's about maintaining a tight paceline within inches of
Soft pedal when you need to
When you pull off the advancing line, soft pedal to
reduce your speed about 0.5 to 1 mph. That
allows the person in the advancing line to maintain the agreed
upon speed and pass you before moving over. If you need to slow
down a little more to avoid hitting the rider in front of you,
sit up straighter and let the wind slow you down.
But always pedal, pedal, pedal
Do not coast in a paceline. If need be, soft
pedal. Coasting causes the accordion effect and surges in
If you struggle...
Never “let someone in” a rotating
paceline. If you can't maintain the pace, pull through to the
front and over into the receding line. When you get to
the back of the receding line, stay there to continually draft.
You will need to communicate with the group what you're
doing. Which means telling riders receding in front of you that
they should move over to the advancing line. Do not draft behind
the advancing line as you will be in the peripheral vision of the
rider who is attempting to move into that line, possibly causing
confusion. When you're ready to get back in the paceline, talk.
Let the other riders know.
Steady head, too
Try not to move your head to see what the other riders are
doing. Use your peripheral vision. Turning your
head often causes the bike to drift in the same direction.
Mind the gaps
Do not let gaps form between you and the rider in front of
you. Closing those gaps causes changes in speeds. And the
objective is to maintain a steady speed.
If you'd like to try riding in a rotating paceline but aren't
fully confident in your skills, find a paceline group riding at a
little slower pace than you usually do. That way, you can focus
on the skills. It's the small, subtle adjustments you make during
a rotating paceline ride that makes it work smoothly.