Fundamentals of Road Racing: Basics of the Paceline

Feb 27, 2014
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The “paceline” is the most prototypical element of competitive road cycling.  After clipping-in and out, the paceline is probably the most intimidating skill for a beginning road racer to learn. There are four basic paceline types: (1) the single paceline; (2) the single rotating paceline; (3) the double paceline; and (4) the echelon.  Each type has is unique elements, but the basics are generally the same.  Here’s an overview of the common single rotating paceline:

  • There are two lines: the Pace Line and the Relief Line.  The Pace Line, sets the steady tempo or pace of the group. The Relief Line is also the “rest line”, but its not passive.  As explained below the Relief Line is the most important aspect of a proper paceline.
  • The paceline is all about efficiency.  Surging is a waste of efficiency.  So when riding the Pace Line keep the tempo steady.  This is particularly important when you hit the lead.  Do Not Accelerate!  “Pull through”, be patient, and you’ll get in front of your Relief Line.  And if the Relief lead is doing his job correctly you won’t have to work to clear.
  • Once you’re clear, rotate to the Relief Line, and decelerate. A little understood dynamic of the paceline is that the Relief Line actually controls the entire paceline’s tempo (as well as the wind break - see below). Your failing to decelerate in the Relief Line wastes your teammates energy and prevents you from conserving your energy.
  • As you assume your position in the Relief Line be aware of your position both relative to the rider in front of you and the Pace Line. The efficiency of the paceline is the collective wind resistance, so you need to be as close to the wheel in front of you and tight to the Pace Line.  If your lead in the Relief Line isn’t falling back he’s not doing his job correctly - let him know!  The Relief Line should be rotating backwards at a pretty good clip - 2-3 mph slower.
  • Once you hit the end of the Relief Line, anticipate your transfer back to the Pace Line. Watch overlapping wheels - meaning don’t overlap.  If done properly you should be able come up to Pace Line speed with minimal effort. 
  • Rinse and repeat

As noted above, properly judging wind direction is critical to the paceline’s efficiency. The Relief Line should always be taking the wind- it both helps deceleration in the Relief Line and protects the Pace Line from the wind.  

Watch the video to help demonstrate some of these concepts.  It may not be perfect but take note of the basic elements.  

[Fundamentals of Road Racing is a CBR open discussion series aimed at sharing the ins and outs of competitive cycling for beginners and experienced racers alike. We encourage your CONSTRUCTIVE comments, thoughts, perspectives, etc. We can all benefit from reinforcing the fundamentals] 

Wednesday Notebook: February 26

Feb 26, 2014
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  • Jon Skaggs and his crew from Tuxedo Thunder Cycling are putting on a Road Race Clinic at LaBagh Woods on Sunday, March 16th at 10AM.  For anyone thinking about or new to racing, this is a great way to learn the fundamentals. Professional cycling coach Eric Blankenship of Gambit Race Smart will be hosting. There’s a limit of 75, so get signed up.
  •  Half Acre Cycling is also hosting a beginners racing clinic on Sunday, March 30th.  Contact Half Acre/ Erica Gaddy via email for more information
  • The ​Gapers Block Crit series p/b Half Acre Cycling is open for registration. There are 4 consecutive days of racing, starting Monday, March 31st through Thursday April 3rd.  Races are on the south lakefront in Calumet Park, starting at 6PM.    This is a Cat 4/5 event for both men and women fields, and an excellent opportunity to improve your early season racing skills.  Fields are limited to 50, and are filling up fast.  Check out these videos and photos from previous editions.  
  • Word from SCW is that their Tuesday Nigh training series at the Joliet Autobahn is back for 2014.  Details are being finalized but dates are April 22, April 29, May 6, May 13, June 24, and August 12.  This is a really awesome venue. Don’t let it being in Joliet turn you off - cut out of work a half hour early and its no problem!  
  • If you haven’t had a chance to go through the 2014 schedule in detail, we encourage you to take a close look.  Most of our long-time favorite races are there, as well as a number of new races, particularly in the Milwaukee area. This is going to be a great road season!
  • Speedy recovery wishes out to Craig Heywood who suffered a stroke last week.  Craig is a very well-regarded and respected Wisconsin USA Cycling official.  “Get well soon!”

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CBR 2014 Calendar is Updated!

Feb 24, 2014
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​The CBR calendar has been updated for 2014.  It is a work in progress.  We will update as races are announced and we get more information.  We’ll also be adding track races,  Please send us any races we’ve missed or corrections.

It is really amazing the wealth of race options in CBR’land.  There are races literally every weekend from April through July - with most weekends having multiple options depending on which direction you want to go. In addition to single-day and two-day weekends, we also have multi-day series over Memorial Day Weekend Quad Cities (May 23-26 ), Tour of the Americas Dairyland (June 19-29), Intelligentsia Cup - Prairie State Cycling Series (July 18-27) and the Staenberg Group Gateway Cup (August 29 - September 1).  And this year we have the USA Cycling Amateur Championships in Madison (July 2-6).

We encourage club sponsors and race directors to send us race preview info and post-race results, pictures, videos, etc.  We’ll post as much information as we get.

Friday Fotos: February 21

Feb 21, 2014
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Here’s a little Friday distraction for you.  Browse through the BR411 Photo listings for some recent additions.

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Wednesday Notebook: February 19

Feb 19, 2014
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  • EGO p/b ​Sammy’s Bikes posted a few news items related to their sponsors. Check them out here
  • Check out these video1, video2.  The future of cycling coverage?  We gotta get this for a few our races - we’ll work on it!
  • Half Acre will be opening registration for Gaper Block Crits next Monday.  These are great “learn to race” events and fill-up quickly
  • And btw both Spring Super Crit and Hillsboro Roubaix are open for registration.  These are races #1 and #2 of The Pave Liga
  • We have a good steady flow of News at BR411 . And click around - we’re adding a number of new features.  Also check out the Races (and click “Choose Area” to focus on Midwest, etc)
  • Came across this article - thought was interesting bit of Chicago cycling nostalgia.  Makes me think “Support the Chicago Velo Campus!”
  • Follow us @bikeracing411, @chibikeracing and @paveliga

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Changes Afoot at CBR

Feb 18, 2014
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​Just a quick “what’s going on” with CBR.  As you’ve seen we’re making a few changes.  Nothing major, mostly cosmetic, trying to update and add a little visual interest to the site (no offense Luke!).  For the “Next Races” banners, Race Directors can send us 330x100 .jpg images (or take your chances and let us create them!)  We will also get back to including photos (and hopefully videos) in our posts - and as always appreciate any content or guest contributors.  

You have also seen us referring to  The concept is to provide a site focused on amateur competitive cycling.  We all read Velonews, Cycling News, Pez, etc., etc.  Which are great for professional cycling.  USA Cycling and their state sites are available and provide calendar information and some news. But amateur cycling news, race results, training rides, team news, calendar, etc. mostly comes through a patch work of bloggers and a few great regional news sites. So BikeRacing411 brings all that together in a single site. We’re getting great early support and look forward to seeing it grow and into the go-to source for amateur cycling information. 

The Pave Liga is taking shape.  We’ve been a little quiet as we work on the scoring mechanics, getting races lined up, team commitments, etc.  We have a number of announcements coming (promise!) so we’ll keep you posted.  This is going to be VERY cool.  

And finally…follow us on Twitter! We’re going to bake Twitter into how we get the word out on posts and announcements.  @chibikeracing, @bikeracing411, and @paveliga



Wednesday Notebook: February 12

Feb 12, 2014
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​Still playing catch-up from our hiatis…

  • xXx Racing-Athletico was named 2013 Division I Team of the Year.  This is really an accomplishment.  The xXx organization does a fantastic job, contributing to all aspects of our sport - from putting on race and training events, to supporting every category - juniors, women, elite, masters, track, cyclocross, etc..Hell this year one of their guys stepped up to take the reins on ICA!  Congrats xXx
  • Kyle Selph, team director of Sammy’s Elite, is taking his crew to a whole new level.  He secured a new main sponsorship from EGO, a power tool equipment manufacturer, plus a number of other new and continuing sponsors.  Looks like he’s beefing up the roster, and has an ambitious regional/national calendar of Cat 1/2 races.  Check out the press release
  • We were recently introduced to the Women’s Cycling Association, being lead by Robin Farina.  Their mission is “to develop, maintain, and support a network of women cyclists and supporters of women’s cycling.”  A national organization, WCA sees the Midwest as a hotbed of women’s cycling and a lot of opportunity - looking forward to collaborating and support their efforts.
  • Wisconsin Cycling Association has posted their road race calendar
  • We’ve been working on a new amateur cycling directory - - its up and running, and being updated, and we’re working on a few last minute items.  Click on the “Select Location” menu, then go to the top and pick Region or State.  More to come on new features, news, photos, videos, etc.  
  • Finally, re: Pave Liga, sorry for delay on next updates but their in the works and just getting finalized.  Its coming soon - promise!

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Wednesday Notebook: February 5

Feb 05, 2014
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Its time to get back into the Wed Notebook routine! There’s a lot of old news out there - but just in case you missed it while we were away

  • I’m not commenting on the weather - its February
  • The Pave Liga is coming together, we’re up to 31 teams - check out the roster.  There’s a limit to 32 teams for the Challenge Cup - so one spot left - but no limit for the Team Championship.  Contact us if you want in 
  • Two early season races are now open for registration (did we mention they’re the first two races of the the Pave Liga):  the Spring Super Crit, Saturday, April 5th, and Hillsboro Roubaix Saturday, April 26th.  For Hillsboro the Cat 4 fields and Cat 5 fields are filling up (both at about 2/3).  Other categories need some love!  Pre-registration is important for these events so set some early season race goals (did we mention they’re the first two races of the Pave Liga)
  • MATTS, the preeminent time trial series (didn’t realize its been around since 1988), is firming up their schedule. Check out their new website (alright- it was up last year but I just found it!)  Everyone should do a time trial or two during the season (hint, hint!)
  • CBR’land’s local multiday - the Prairie State Cycling Series - announced their dates July 18th - July 27th.  Only official venue announced is the NCC calendar event at Lake Bluff on Saturday, July 19th.  At this point can’t announce any others (even if we did know), but from what we’re hearing on the street it will be a mix of old and new.  Gotta keep it fresh!
  • Tour of America’s Dairyland has also announced their schedule June 19th - June 29th.  We’ll keep you posted on registration opening in March
  • Here are links until we get the CBR calendar up: Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri
  • The Illinois Cycling Association posted the Illinois Cup schedule today.  
  • And finally, we’re going to be way more active on Twitter this year - follow these two:  @chibikeracing and @paveliga

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