Group Rides
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Anytime two or more cyclists ride together they form a group!  In our case we go in groups essentially on every ride.  That being the case we need to make sure to observe the precautions that make group riding safe for everyone.  Please read "Rules of the Road" for general group safety.  It is imperative sometimes for us to ride in a single file.  This may be due to vehicular traffic on the roads as well as other safety or regulatory reasons or to conserve energy on the ride.  Riders in a single file are often called a "pace line."  There is a misconception that a pace line is only for racers in order to maximize their speed.  While that is true for racers, we are not racing.  There are two well known articles about this topic, both can be found on the links below (both are also on the CIBC website, main page on the "Safety" link.  Please go to this link, and read the page.  The two articles are near the bottom of the page.  This link is from our local bicycle club: The Channel Islands Bicycle Club.  The CIBC has the same safety concerns like we do when riding in a group.)

First article: "9 Paceline Rules" [from Bicycling magazine]
Second article: "The Lost Art of the Group Ride"

Riding in a pace line affects riders in different ways depending on their position in the line.  The rider in the front is called the "leader" and this position requires the greatest effort due to wind resistance.  The rider at the very back of the line is called the "sweeper"" and this is the second most difficult position in the pace line.  The riders in the middle of the line between the leader and the sweeper put out the least effort and have the easiest ride.

The leader is supposed to keep the group together by not going too fast, otherwise slower riders will be dropped.  Usually, after leading for approximately 1/2 miles (about 2 minutes at our pace) the leader will go to the back of the line letting the next person take the lead.  This should be done with great care to make sure no cars are coming behind.  The leader would first signal his intention to go to the back, then move to the left and slow down to allow the line to proceed as he becomes the sweeper at the end.  This is repeated periodically so all members of the pace line will take the lead on a rotating basis.  If a rider is too tired to take the lead position, that rider can miss a turn and just go to the back without taking a turn at the lead position.  It is better not to take the lead too long (2 to 5 minutes is good,) others deserve a chance to lead.

Riding in a pace line is optional and requires all riders in the pace line to agree to follow the same rules.  If you do not wish to join the pace line, you can always chose to ride alone: behind the pace line at a safe distance, or in front of the pace line, again far enough not to be part of the pace line.  If you cannot be alert and paying attention to all the other riders, or if you don't like pace lines, it is best that you don't join in a pace line...

The two most serious problems "newbies" as well as some old timers have in a pace line are: 1)  Surging in speed when they take the lead position.  This is sure to break up the pace line.  To avoid this, monitor the speed of the pace line (using your odometer) before reaching the lead, and when you reach the lead try to maintain that speed.  Keep an eye on the line behind you, don't let gaps form, slow down if you notice any gaps!  and 2)  Staying too long in the lead position.  Go to the back after a couple of minutes...  staying too long in the lead position will reduce the efficiency of the pace line and will deprive others from taking the lead.