Riding Tips IV: Echelon

Echelon … or rotating pace line. A rotating pace line is not only a thing of beauty, it is a remarkably efficient way of getting a group of cyclists down the road faster and with less effort than they could as individuals. We all know that drafting is anywhere from a few percent to almost 70 percent easier than taking a pull depending on the circumstances. The amount of drafting advantage is determined by:

Wind direction and speed. A strong tail wind makes for less drafting advantage while a strong head wind gives a larger advantage to a drafter.

The degree of incline. Downhills offer much more drafting advantage to the point where a drafting rider may need to brake while the lead rider is pedaling hard. Climbs, especially steep ones can almost eliminate the advantage of drafting.

Speed. Similar to wind speed and incline, the faster the pace line’s speed, the bigger the drafting advantage.


This is a long piece. For the rest of it visit the Spectrum site here about mid way down the page. Look for the word echelon.

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3 Responses to Riding Tips IV: Echelon

  1. ih says:

    Commenting on the speed group? Do you ride with the Warp speeders or just commenting on them? I find that every group , takes unnecessary risks. We run red lights , cross traffic , improper signaling for turns etc.

  2. Diana says:

    Yes, Dan, it is a thing of beauty when it isn’t looking like a sidewinder on crack. The key is to hold your line and not overlap wheels with people who can’t hold their line.
    But in our speed group, such wind usually means pace lines quickly become every man and woman for themselves and any kind of formation or cooperation goes to crap.
    Fortunately, I’ve learned to enjoy regrouping with a few steady riders and taking my turns pulling.

    • ddcurrie says:

      Nice imagery that: sidewinder on crack. No doubt it is a learned skill and we haven’t all learned it yet!

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