long paceline of road cyclists

Most riders choose to ride in a paceline to share the work and achieve a faster overall speed. But it seems some sadistic riders only enter pacelines because they enjoy a good crash that leaves all their skin on the pavement.

So, if you would like to wreck while riding a paceline, follow these tips:

1. Overlap wheels.

As soon as everyone gets into proper formation, make sure you are overlapping wheels. Rather than staying a few inches behind the rider in front of you, get up real close your wheels overlap about 3″.

This way, if the rider in front swerves, he’ll take out your front wheel, and you’ll go down. As an added bonus, you may get run over from behind!

If you want to speed up the process, go ahead and quickly turn your front wheel into his rear wheel.

2. Hit the brakes suddenly.

If you are cruising along the flats at a good pace, in good conditions, your best chance of crashing is to hit the brakes suddenly. Sudden stops are always a bad idea, but it’s especially idiotic when there is no need to hit the brakes whatsoever. This way, no one will be expecting it.

Just hit your brakes suddenly for no reason and definitely without warning. The rider(s) behind you will crash into you hard enough that there’s no chance of you staying upright.

3. Change your line mid-turn.

Paceline etiquette requires all riders to hold their line during a turn, because when there are people around you, you can’t always do the outside-inside-outside line. If you’re on the outside, you stay to the outside through the turn.

But in order to wreck, you will want to swerve through turns, taking the outside-inside-outside line, regardless of other riders to your left and right. Everyone else will hold their line, so by venturing outside your current position, you’ll sideswipe at least one rider.

This is an ideal tactic if you want to wreck bad while racing a criterium.

4. Stare at the wheel.

If you prefer your crashes to come by surprise, this is a good technique for you. All you have to do is stare directly at the wheel in front of you. Do not look ahead and survey the terrain!

This way, you won’t be bothered by those obstacles in the road that everyone else is avoiding. If you’re lucky, you’ll drop into a pot hole and go straight over the bars.

5. Do some sight seeing.

If you get bored staring at the wheel in front of you, your other options is to look off to the side and enjoy the scenery. Forget the road and riders in front of you.

If the scenery is lackluster, start daydreaming instead.

Either way, you won’t be paying attention to the group, and there’s a great chance you’ll crash. If you start fixating on something particularly interesting off the side of the road, you might even ride into it!

How to not wreck…

I really can’t think of better ways to wreck when you’re riding in a paceline! (If you can, let me know in the comments!)

But… If you would rather not wreck, don’t follow that advice!! Instead, read these rules to correctly ride a paceline. You and your fellow riders will be much happier!

This article was originally published on May 25, 2011. It was updated and republished on June 30, 2018.

Photo Credit: Keisuke Omi

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  1. suffered any crashes caused by newbies lately?

  2. @Justin

    Haha, not recently, no.

    I probably started writing this article last year, though, so who knows what sparked the idea.

  3. I invented a unique way to crash in a paceline a few years ago:

    While at the back of the paceline, look back at the chasing dog and accelerate.

    Not only will you crash but the dog will probably bite you.

  4. @Jonathan

    That’s a good one! You get two injuries for the price of one!

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