Summit Cycling Club

Cycling Safety Tips and Musings

Paceline Etiquette Refresher

Note:  On Summit rides when in a double paceline, both riders typically pull off to the left, one staying in front of the other and both staying tight to the group while drifting to the back.  Our roads are busy so care must be taken to avoid pulling off the front into traffic.

Here are some general rules for riding in a paceline. They are not the last word in pacelining but if you know these then you know a good bit. There is no mention of echelons, etc.

  • Ride at an even speed (constant effort).
  • Try not to use your brakes. Sit up or move out of the draft some to catch some air to slow your speed.
  • If you must brake feather your rear brake to slow you smoothly.
  • Never brake when at the front of a paceline.
  • Do not coast or soft pedal at the front of a paceline.
  • Wiggle your arm to signal that you are moving off the front. The arm that you wiggle indicates the side that you wish the following riders to pass you on.
  • Keep pedaling as you move off the front. Don't stop or slow your cadence until the following rider has begun to pull through.
  • When assuming the front of a paceline, keep your speed constant. Do not accelerate rapidly!
  • Don't open Gaps! Keep the paceline tight.
  • If someone accelerates to open a gap, do not jump to close the gap (except when racing), close it slowly, the riders behind you will appreciate you.
  • Keep about a 1 to 2 foot gap between you and the leading rider.
  • Don't overlap wheels. If the rider you are following moves to hit your wheel, you will crash, not the other rider.
  • If you contact wheels, turn your wheel towards the wheel of the rider in front. If you turn away you will go down quickly.
  • If your handlebars or body touch a rider next to you, don't turn away; relax and keep your bike straight.
  • Don't make any sudden moves.
  • Don't ride too close to the edge of the road, Leave a ~foot to the right side when possible.
  • Look at the middle of the rider's back in front of you and toward the front of the paceline. Do not stare at the wheel in front of you. If you stare at the wheel you can't react to things around you.
  • When re-entering the paceline from the back, begin pedaling when about 2 or three riders from the back to increase your speed and move smoothly into the line. Don't wait until you're at the back. If you wait you'll have to jump to catch the group.
  • Don't pull too hard at the front when racing or riding fast. Save enough energy to get back on the paceline.
  • When standing, don't throw your bike back. You may hit the rider behind you.
  • If you are too tired or weak to do your turn at the front of the paceline, don’t pull at the front. Just rotate smoothly through without disrupting the group's pace. Then sit at the back about 1 bike length and let others fill in the space.
  • Learn to trust the wheel in front of you and ride that track. Too often riders will sit off to one side or another. This makes the pace line inefficient and look ragged.
  • Don’t use your aerobars in a paceline. Save them for a solo ride or time trial.

Conner from the Baker County Boy Scouts asked we share this website full of good safety tips.  Check it out.  It's a great resource for links to many bicycle (and pedestrian) safety sites.  Conner, thanks for the link and good luck on your upcoming bike trip!

Samantha Marcello, found our website and offered this link.  Check it out and pass it on especially to the beginning cyclists you know.  She thought it would be a good addition to the other cycling resources and websites on our page. Thanks Sam! 

 "Beginner's Guide to Bicycle Maintenance" at .   *Note:  In addition to the info on maintenance this page has links to good (and sobering) info on safety and bike accidents.  It's a good read for every cyclist.

Derrick Lopez, a student in the area, asked we post this as part of a class assignment.  Check it out! - list of safety tips, cycling benefits, and resources. 

We have LAB Instructors. The Summit Cycling Club will be happy to speak, or conduct safety classes, for your organization. Multiple members of our club are certified bicycle safety instructors by the League of American Bicyclists (LAB).


Check out this web site for some EXTREME winter riding :

Mountain Bike Trail Etiquette - Rules of the Trail

IMBA developed the "Rules of the Trail" to promote responsible and courteous conduct on shared-use trails. Keep in mind that conventions for yielding and passing may vary in different locations, or with traffic conditions.

  1. Ride Open Trails: Respect trail and road closures undefined ask a land manager for clarification if you are uncertain about the status of a trail. Do not trespass on private land. Obtain permits or other authorization as required. Be aware that bicycles are not permitted in areas protected as state or federal Wilderness.
  2. Leave No Trace: Be sensitive to the dirt beneath you. Wet and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage than dry ones. When the trail is soft, consider other riding options. This also means staying on existing trails and not creating new ones. Don't cut switchbacks. Be sure to pack out at least as much as you pack in.
  3. Control Your Bicycle: Inattention for even a moment could put yourself and others at risk. Obey all bicycle speed regulations and recommendations, and ride within your limits.
  4. Yield Appropriately: Do your utmost to let your fellow trail users know you're coming undefined a friendly greeting or bell ring are good methods. Try to anticipate other trail users as you ride around corners. Bicyclists should yield to other non-motorized trail users, unless the trail is clearly signed for bike-only travel. Bicyclists traveling downhill should yield to ones headed uphill, unless the trail is clearly signed for one-way or downhill-only traffic. In general, strive to make each pass a safe and courteous one.
  5. Never Scare Animals: Animals are easily startled by an unannounced approach, a sudden movement or a loud noise. Give animals enough room and time to adjust to you. When passing horses, use special care and follow directions from the horseback riders (ask if uncertain). Running cattle and disturbing wildlife are serious offenses.
  6. Plan Ahead: Know your equipment, your ability and the area in which you are riding and prepare accordingly. Strive to be self-sufficient: keep your equipment in good repair and carry necessary supplies for changes in weather or other conditions. Always wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear.
Want to learn more about mountain biking:

Must Read ... Road Musings and Foibles to Avoid ...

 ... what a bunch ride should be, and more importantly, what the leaders of the ride should be. 

By Ed Borysewich

Every so often, I’ll ride a recreational group ride. I love the camaraderie of cyclists, the talk, the last minute pumps of air, the clicking in, and the easy drifting out as a peloton. “I miss riding in a group,” I’ll think to myself.

The magic ends by mile 10. The group will surge, gap, and separate, only to regroup at every stop sign. I’ll hear fifteen repeated screams of “HOLE!” for every minor road imperfection. And then no mention of the actual hole. Some guy in front will set a PB for his 30 second pull. Wheels overlap, brakes are tapped, and some guy in the back will go across the yellow line and speed past the peloton for no apparent reason. A breakaway?!

I curse under my breath, remembering why I always ride with only a few friends. Doesn’t anyone else realize how dangerous this ride is? How bad it is for our reputation on the road? There are clear rules of ride etiquette, safety, and common sense. Does anyone here know the rules? Who is in charge?

But no one is in charge, and the chaotic group has no idea of how to ride together. As a bike lawyer, I get the complaints from irritated drivers, concerned police, controversy-seeking journalists, and injured cyclists. It needs to get better, but the obstacles are real:

First, everyone is an expert these days. The internet and a power meter do not replace 50,000 miles of experience, but try telling that to a fit forty year-old, new to cycling, on a $5000 bike. Or, god forbid, a triathlete. No one wants to be told what to do.

Second, the more experienced riders just want to drop the others and not be bothered. It is all about the workout, the ego boost, or riding with a subset of friends. But a group ride is neither a race nor cycling Darwinism. As riders get better, they seek to distinguish themselves by riding faster on more trendy bikes; but as riders get better they need to realize two things: 1) there is always someone faster, and 2) they have obligations as leaders. Cycling is not a never ending ladder, each step aspiring upwards, casting aspersions down. It is a club, and we should want to expand and improve our membership.

Third, different rides are advertised by average speed, but speed is only one part of the equation. This approach makes speed the sole metric for judging a cyclist, and creates the false impression that a fit rider is a good one. Almost anyone can be somewhat fast on a bike, but few learn to be elegant, graceful cyclists.

Fourth, riding a bike well requires technique training. Good swimmers, for example, constantly work on form and drills; so should cyclists. Anyone remember the C.O.N.I. Manual or Eddie Borysewich’s book? They are out-of-print, but their traditional approach to bike technique should not be lost. More emphasis was given on fluid pedaling and bike handling.

Before the internet, before custom bikes, and before Lance, it was done better. Learning to ride was an apprenticeship. The goal was to become a member of the peloton, not merely a guy who is sort of fast on a bike. Membership was the point, not to be the local Cat. 5 champ. You were invited to go on group ride if you showed a interest and a willingness to learn. You were uninvited if you did not. You learned the skills from directly from the leader, who took an interest in riding next to you on your first rides (and not next to his friends, like better riders do today). Here is some of what you learned:

- To ride for months each year in the small ring.
- To take your cycling shorts off immediately after a ride.
- To start with a humble bike, probably used.
- To pull without surging.
- To run rotating pace line drills and flick others through.
- To form an echelon.
- To ride through the top of a climb.
- To hold your line in a corner.
- To stand up smoothly and not throw your bike back.
- To give the person ahead of you on a climb a little more room to stand up.
- To respect the yellow line rule.
- To point out significant road problems.
- To brake less, especially in a pace line.
- To follow the wheel in front and not overlap.

The ride leader and his lieutenants were serious about their roles, because the safety of the group depended on you, the weakest link. If you did not follow the rules, you were chastised. Harshly. If you did, you became a member of something spectacular. The Peloton.

The book Bicycle Road Race by Ed Borysewich is available on Amazon.

    Bike Handling When You Flat


    Flat handling techniques for the wilds of New Jersey

    Copyright Glenn Page, all rights reserved.

    Rear Wheel Flat

    Bam. Your rear tube just blew.

    Don’t panic. Most 21-23 mm road tires will stay on the rim even while completely flat.  

    You do though have some business to attend to quickly.

    You’ll wreck and you will likely crash the next four cyclists behind you. Instead, get off the gas and begin coasting to a stop.

    Immediately announce, "Flat!" "Slowing!"

    Let the field go by. Do not make any sudden moves. Concentrate on keeping your bike straight and stable, allowing it to slow on its own until you can safely merge off the road and apply your brakes gently to bring the bike to a complete stop.

    Emergency over. Fix the flat. Your friends are getting impatient.

    Front wheel flat

    A flat in your front tire requires special handling. Your steering will be wobbly and bike response sluggish.

    Front flat rule number one: Except in situations where your life is in imminent danger (e.g., FedEx truck grill), do not attempt to turn the bike and do not use your front brake.

    Tire separation from the rim is increased substantially with hard braking and/or turning on a deflated front wheel.

    If you must brake, apply your rear brake with soft to moderate pressure.

    Depending on your speed, you may have to compensate for the fact that bikes can dive forward under braking and unweight the rear wheel. You should be prepared to get your rear end in back of your saddle to balance the bike while braking. Coasting or very soft braking will help avoid this. (If you are unfamiliar with this technique, please see me or one of the other LCI’s in our club.)

    This should do the trick in most group riding conditions you will encounter in our area.

    ... Unless you’re carrying more than 20 mph speed, in a sharp curve, on a steep grade, or all of the above.

    Which, of course, you are. On to this predicament in part two.

    Extreme Condition Flatting*

    Ok... There is no avoiding it. Your situation is not optimal.

    Getting out of this is going to take nerves of steel and calm action. So, stop screaming and pay attention.

    DON'T TURN.  Try it and you will flip.

    You will likely have to brake.

    Start with your rear brake - this time hard. You know that bikes dive forward under braking unweighting the rear wheel, so be prepared to get your rear end in back of your saddle to keep the bike upright.

    If the biking gods are with you, this has done the trick. Speed is bleeding off and you are hovering over the back of your saddle to balance the bike as you slow.

    If not, rule number one is still in force. Do not turn.  Scan for soft landing opportunities. A field is a better option than over the handle bars, or into a tree.  

    Your front brake is a last resort - used to bleed off speed suddenly before you wrap yourself around that tree. (Fair warning: You will catapult over the bars if you do not get your weight back.)

    *A short editorial here: If you do not have training at high speed cycling, and are not familiar with the extreme handling techniques required... What the heck are you doing over 20 mph, on a sharp curve on a steep downhill; or, in the middle of a fast group, over your limit and about to blow?  90% of crash avoidance is using your brain to avoid dangerous situations. If you want to go fast, make sure you have the skill to go with it. 

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