Our buddy Ed Jovi was appalled at the photo I recently posted showing my morning bike commute on Market Street, which resembled a mini SF Critical Mass. Given the amount of bike commuters on Market Street in the morning, he was curious to know if us west coasters had ever heard of “pacelines”.
Now I’m strictly a commuter on my bike – riding to work and utilizing my bike to get me from point A to point B – so I’m more concerned with “agh! cars man, why?!” than I am with maximizing speed and crushing a trip to the top of Mount Tamalpais. So a paceline isn’t necessarily something I’d personally think to form, but they make good sense.
If you don’t know how a paceline works, check out the below video complete with fist-pump inducing techno music:
Here’s what Ed Jovi has to say about pacelines:
Imagine being able to ride the same speed on your bike but use 30-40% less energy without paying a visit to BALCO. That’s the beauty of the paceline… Riders can take turns pulling at the front of a group for anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes depending on the size of the group, the direction of the wind, how many miles they already have in their legs and the group’s need for speed. Once the rider at the front has had enough he peels off the front and rotates to the back of the group until its his turn to pull again. Generally, the further back you are the greater the affect of the draft is and the less effort you need to exert to stay with the group. Of course, riding at high rates of speed on a bike with less than 12 inches of space between you and the next rider’s wheel is dangerous. Concentration is needed to make sure you don’t bring down your entire group and care must be taken to communicate any debris in the road, upcoming turns and stops.
Now granted the commute along Market Street might be a tough one to implement a paceline on given its stop-and-go traffic and videogame-esque obstacles to maneuver around, but I’m down to give it a try. I bet this would really zip you along Valencia Street now that the Green Wave signal timing is in full effect.