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Pace Line Basics

Consistency -> Predictable -> Safety

Riding in a pace line requires each rider to abide by safe practices in order for the group to ride safely.

Each rider needs to practice safe riding. By riding consistent (e.g., straight, in-line and smoothly) the paceline behavior becomes predictable and makes for safe and efficient riding.


  1. Obey the Rules of the Road.
  2. Ride no more than 2 abreast. This excludes riders being passed or dropping back.
  3. Stay to right of the road, but allow for a safe distance between you and the edge of the road.
  4. Stay out of the road when stopped to allow traffic to pass.
  5. Do not ride aero bars in the group.
  6. Do not ride fixies or other bikes that behave or handle like a road bike.
  7. Do not take your hand off the handlebars if you are not comfortable with riding with one hand.
  8. Keep your hands near your brake levers.


  1. Call and point out all hazards (e.g., bad road, car back, debris right, road kill, holes, bumps, gravel, sand, pedestrians, etc.).
  2. Call and use hand signals for turning and stopping.
  3. Always use loud verbal warnings and repeat the warning down/up the pace line.
    1. Car back – to warn of vehicle approaching and passing from the rear.
    2. Car up – to warn of an approaching vehicle.
    3. On your left – when overtaking another cyclists or pedestrian.
    4. Etc.
  4. Call out any changes such as slowing and stopping to ensure everyone is prepared and not surprised.

Single Pace Line Riding

  1. The lead rider is in control and responsible for the group – call all out hazards, maintain consistent speed, ride a safe line, etc.
  2. Speed/effort should be such that all riders can ride without having to drop out of the group. Also known as “riding to protect the weakest rider.”
  3. Keep the speed (or effort in the hills) consistent.
  4. Riders need to maintain safe distance from the rider in front of them and do nothing erratic (speed changes, braking, swerving, etc.)
  5. Dropping off the lead – the lead rider maintains speed while signaling to the next rider (by tapping right rear) and pulling over to the left out of the pace line. Only then does the rider decelerate and move to the rear of the pace line.
  6. Lead rider should not lead for a long time unless agreed to otherwise by the group. For example, pulls shouldn’t be any longer than 3 minutes or 1 mile. Shorter is better.
  7. Rotating lead riders maintains a strong and healthy group.
  8. The lead rider only needs to lead as long as they feel comfortable doing so. If needed, it is okay to immediately rotate back if you do not want to pull the group.
  9. Always rotate to the rear of the pace line. Breaking into the middle of the group disrupts the rear and doesn’t provide an even opportunity for all riders to lead.
  10. NO SUDDEN MOVEMENTS – ride straight, steady and smooth. Any disruptions will get magnified as they pass on down the pace line. Don’t panic and stay relaxed.
  11. Use soft pedaling to avoid speed changes. Feather brake when necessary.
  12. If you have a mishap (flat tire, mechanical, etc.), don’t panic. Don’t slam on brakes. Smoothly more left out of the pace line and slow up – while announcing to the group you have a mechanical and are slowing. Once you are clear of the pace line, then move off road.


  1. Ride a comfortable distance behind the wheel in front of you. Begin riding 2-3 feet away and work up closer as you feel comfortable. You do not need to get any closer than 6 inches. Remember – if your front wheel touches the wheel ahead, you will likely be going down.
  2. DO NOT OVERLAP WHEELS – This is what causes most crashes and injuries. Do not overlap wheels.
  3. Do not do anything abruptly. Do not slam breaks. Do not quickly speed up. Do everything as smoothly and slowly as possible.
  4. Avoid gaps – if a gap opens up, slowly close it. Do not attack it, because that will just add a gap behind you. Slowly pull your group up to the group ahead of you. If you cannot close it, rotate back and let a stronger rider pull the group up.
  5. Do not suddenly stand up on your bike. If you need to raise up, signal back to the rider behind you to give you space and slowly raise up.

Double Pace Line Riding

With larger groups it can be safer to ride in a double pace line to reduce the length of the group a car needs to pass. It also makes the group move visible on the road. All the items above that apply to single pace line riding apply with the following additional items.

  1. Ride two riders abreast and even with one another.
  2. Maintain enough distance from the rider next to you to feel safe, but don’t ride too far apart from one another.
  3. When the riders leading the group at the front decide to pull off and go back, they (1) signal by tapping their rear, (2) the riders then both move over one spot to the left, (3) the left most rider decelerates and drops back, (4) once the left most rider has dropped back out of the way, the right most rider then moves over another spot to left out of the pace line, (5) the right most rider can now decelerate and drop back to the rear to the pace line.
  4. In order to keep the pace line speed smooth and steady while the riders on the front are rotating off, it is important that they maintain the paceline speed until they have safely moved to the left out of the pace line. Only then should they begin to decelerate and move back.


Bicycle Riding in the Road and the State Law

The link to the state law on bicycle regulations (316.2065) can be found HERE:

  • Bicycles must follow the same law as automobiles.
  • Bicycle riding at less than normal speed must ride in the bicycle lane, or if no bicycle lane, then they ride as close to the right side of the road as practicable except for the following conditions:
    • When overtaking or passing another bicycle or vehicle
    • When preparing for a left-handed turn
    • When reasonably necessary to avoid any condition or conflict, hazard or sub-standard lane width that makes it unsafe to do so
  • “Sub-standard-width lane” is a lane too narrow for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to both travel safely side-by-side in the same lane. State planning documents define this as 14 feet wide. Most typical lanes widths are 10-12 feet and are considered non-standard.

When a rider takes the lane on a substandard road, then the rider is legally impeding traffic. Since cars will need to move over into an adjacent or oncoming lane to pass, then riders riding two abreast don’t imped traffic any more than a single ride would, therefore it is okay for riders to ride two abreast in a sub-standard lane.  This also reduces the overall length of the group the motorists have to pass, making it safer than passing a longer line of single file cyclists.

A few notable state laws went into effect on July 1st 2021:

  • Motorists can cross the center lane in a no-passing zone to safely pass a cyclist.
  • Group riders can cross intersections with stop signs in groups of 10 or less (after a complete stop).
  • Now motorists must obey the 3 feet passing law.
  • Bicyclists should use the left lane before making a left turn.
  • Motorists cannot turn right in front of a cyclist within 20 feet of any intersection.

Making a Lane Change in a Group

Before changing lanes, it is critical to always look behind for traffic to determine if it is safe to move over. This can be difficult, if not impossible in a group, so instead we “signal” for the turn first, but do not move over until the rear of group has moved over and determined it is also safe for the entire group to move over. The rear calls out “take the lane” to let the group know when it is safe for them to move over.

This is a three-step process.

  1. The rider leader signals the lane change from the front. The group passes this signal back to the rear.
  2. The rear determines when it is safe for them to move over, and they only move over when it is safe. Now they effectively have blocked any new traffic from continuing in the lane.
  3. Once the entire lane is cleared from traffic and safe for all of the group to move over, the rear calls out “take the lane.” This is passed up the pace line and the remainder of the group moves over into the lane.

 For a multi-lane move this process is repeated each time for each individual lane change.


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Florida Freewheelers


Who are the Florida Freewheelers?

The Florida Freewheelers is a cycling club with more than 500 members based in Central Florida. Its members are people like you who ride bicycles for recreation, fitness and sport.  The club has riders of all shapes, sizes and skill levels ranging from beginner to recreational to racing. You may see cycling enthusiasts from the age of two to ninety-two.

What do we do?

We ride bikes in the Central Florida area. Our members ride road bikes, hybrids, mountain bikes, tandems, and recumbents.  We offer several types of regularly scheduled rides, so you can choose the ride that best suits your bike and riding skills.

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