The Basics (Rider 101)
Clearly communicate to other riders changes in speed or direction, road hazards, pedestrians and vehicles. Call out “car back”, “slowing” or “stopping” as needed. Communicate calls throughout the group. Coordinate group turns and moves.
Look before you make a move. Riders and motorists expect you to ride in a straight line and at a consistent speed. Avoid sudden changes in speed or lane position. Scan behind and to the side before changing position.
Don’t Pass on Right
Gather behind the last car in line at an intersection. Although law permits a cyclist to pass cars on the right at an intersection, such behavior is discouraged in group rides as a courtesy to motorists.
Avoid Riding More than Two Abreast
Group riding often requires riding two abreast. While this is not illegal in North Carolina, please exercise your rights with courtesy.
Choose Proper Lane Positioning
North Carolina law permits bikes to ride in the travel lane, and to use the entire lane if necessary. Never cross yellow center lines. Be courteous and use the shoulder when it is safe to do so.
Be Courteous at Intersections
Obey traffic signs and signals at intersections. At stop signs, consider moving as a single unit through intersections if all riders feel it is safe to do so. Slow and stop at yellow lights. Consider adopting a policy of stopping or slowing after intersections when the group is split.
The Rules & Basics of Pace Line Riding
- Required Equipment
- A mechanically sound bicycle (road bikes preferred).
- A helmet
- Front & Rear lights
- A spare tube and tools required to change your tire.
- Obey all traffic laws and signs.
- Do not use your aero bars unless you are 20 feet off the back and riding solo.
- Do not wear headphones, you will miss hearing information communicated about the surroundings.
- Always look towards the front of the paceline. Do not stare at the wheel in front of you. If you stare at the wheel you can’t react to things around you.
- Ride at a constant, even speed at all times.
- Do not exceed the group speed limit.
- Keep about a 1 to 2 foot gap between you and the leading rider.
- Try not to use brakes. Soft pedal or move out of the draft to slow slightly.
- If you must brake, feather your rear brake gently and communicate.
- Don’t overlap wheels. If the rider in front of you moves and hits your wheel, you will crash, not the other rider. (If you do contact wheels, turn your wheel towards the wheel of the rider in front. If you turn away you will go down quickly.)
- If you make contact with another rider, don’t turn away; relax and keep your bike straight.
- Don’t make any sudden moves.
- Don’t open Gaps! Keep the paceline tight.
- If someone accelerates to open a gap, do not jump to close the gap; Close it slowly. If you can’t close it, rotate out and let the person behind you try.
- Don’t stand up on your pedals in the paceline, it will throw your bike back. You may hit the rider behind you. (If your butt hurts move out of the paceline first)
- When assuming the front of a paceline, keep your speed constant. Do not accelerate rapidly! keep in mind that there may be a large group behind you. Accelerate slowly after corners, stop signs, etc… so the group does not “yo-yo”.
- Never brake when at the front of a paceline. (Kill the squirrel!)
- Do not coast or soft pedal at the front of a paceline. (Pedal down the hills)
- Wiggle your elbow to signal that you are moving off the front. The arm that you wiggle indicates the side that you wish the following riders to pass you on. There is no need to take your hands off the bars and pat your ass. “Chicken winging” is sufficient and safer.
- Keep pedaling as you move off the front.
- Don’t stop or slow your cadence until the following rider has begun to pull through.
- Look first before you pull out.
- If you are too tired or weak to do your turn at the front of the paceline, don’t pull at the front. Just rotate smoothly through without disrupting the group’s pace. Then sit at the back about 1 bike length and let others fill in the space.
- When re-entering the paceline from the back, begin pedaling about 2 or three riders from the back to increase your speed and move smoothly into the line. If you wait until everyone has passed to accelerate, you’ll have to jump to catch the group and you can get dropped.
- Call out if you are braking, (“Slowing! Stopping!”) turning, see any debris or glass in the road, and point out any obstacles or road hazards so the riders behind you can see them and have time to avoid them.
If you are new to cycling, it is important to ride with a group that will teach you these rules and always let those you with be riding with know what your experience level is.