For any tandem team with even a few miles of road riding under their belt a quick realization will occur that pacelines naturally form around you. Solo cyclists view you as a great wind-blocker and even better flat road pace setter. With this it is inevitable that you will be called upon to operate your lengthy stead in a paceline.
Pacelines present unique challenges and advantages that both tandem partners need to be aware of in order to keep things safe. To begin with it is best to understand the basics of a paceline.
- Pacelines work best on flat roads or gradual slopes
- Pull at the front with a consistent steady speed. Do not dart out and race away.
- At the end of your pull gently move to the drop back lane and allow the next rider to pull through.
- To drop back in order simply let up your force on the pedals to slow your pace just below that of the paceline. Slow too much and you will be forced to accelerate hard to jump back into line. Slow too little and you will disrupt the paceline movement.
- Pacelines are about shared loads but as the big team in line you will be expected to put in a bit more effort out front. Only pull as long as you feel comfortable in doing so.
A few pointers for the captain:
- Set a consistent pace and pedalling rhythm
- Allow enough room in front of your tire to avoid sudden braking or swerving should the rider in front slow quickly.
- Do not make sudden moves.
- Communicate with the stoker and realize that they will be under added stress because of the tight riding quarters.
A few pointers for the stoker
- Follow the captains lead.
- Minimize conversation with paceline partners to those you know are comfortable operating in the paceline. Often-times you will find rookies who are having a difficult time simply operating in the paceline let alone maintaining conversation during the process.
- Communicate shifts in body weight with your captain.
- Avoid burning yourself out while pulling at the front. Put in comfortable efforts only.
- Help the captain maneuver into and out of the paceline by keeping watch for other riders.
If you find yourselves in a good paceline your average speed will jump considerably as the effort is shared across partners. Generally speaking the tandem team will dictate the flow of the paceline and the ultimate success or failure of the efforts. The most basic tip for paceline safety is practice makes perfect. Ride enough on the road and you will find yourself in a paceline mind the tips above and enjoy the ride.