Chasing Watts Support Center

Pacelines & Drafting

The basic element of the group ride is the paceline, in which the rider at the front breaks the wind and a trailing column of riders sit in their draft. Pacelines on open roads tend to be single or double-file. In races on closed roads, a larger and less-organized group called a peloton is common.

Riding at the front of the paceline is called pulling. Typically, you pull for a period of time ranging from a few seconds to several minutes, before the next rider in the paceline moves to the front and does their share of the work. After completing a pull, you move to the side and drift back alongside the paceline, eventually reentering the draft behind the last rider in the group. 

Very fast rides may utilize a unique format called a rotating paceline, also referred to as “through-and-off” in some parts of the world. In a rotating paceline, you peel off the front of the pack almost as soon as you reach it, quickly returning to the back to continue the cycle. This creates a constant “rotation” in which riders are drafting each other both while moving up towards the front and while moving back towards the rear of the pack. This format is challenging and demands careful pacing throughout the rotation, but is an extremely effective way for expert riders to sustain a high pace.