Chaingangs (also known as through and off) are a key skill in road racing, they enable a group of cyclists to work together to maximise efficiency by reducing drag and minimising long periods of time spent on the front.
Make no mistake, this is not an easy skill to master, it will take some time and patience. Do show this time and patience to new riders, explain to them the principles, methods and techniques to a chaingang to help them learn.
They can be both fast and slow moving, fast moving are more fitting for Sunday rides where you pull through immediately, for Saturday rides however a slower one is more appropriate and social. Take 5-10 minutes on the front before pulling through. Don't hog the front but equally don't avoid it, if you are struggling to take a turn on the front communicate it.
The rule of thumb for determining a number for a chaingang and pace lines are as follows:
Apply the rules at the bottom to ensure it remains safe.
The two sources below are the best way to demonstrate a chaingang, please view both of them to get a full understanding of how one works.
Pace lines are also an efficient way to cycle in a group if you have a smaller number of riders.
Riders form one line, the rider on the front will take a short turn on the front, of a maximum of a 15-30 second interval. After this, they then peel off and join the rear of the group. It is an easier skill to learn.
Apply the rules from below to ensure it remains safe.
It can be summarised simply by three steps:
Acceleration: Do not accelerate at the front, keep a steady and smooth pace. Any acceleration will cause the group to fracture and break apart.
Hazards: This could be potholes, gravel or junctions, the first rider should be well aware of these, point and shout these out to the riders behind. Read our general guidelines to make yourself aware of these.
Braking: Try not to use your brakes, any braking will cause a domino effect down the line with the rider behind having to brake slight more, the next rider even more etc which increase the risk of collisions.
Dropping: If you are being dropped shout out "dropping" or if you desperately need to take a break shout "wheel" to take a turn out. If you shout neither of these other riders will be waiting for you to come past which will break the group up.
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