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Group Riding

The Mission of Ancaster Velo is to promote and encourage cycling in Ancaster and the surrounding area by organizing structured group cycling rides where cyclists can improve their cycling skills and enjoy cycling by associating with other cyclists.


Group cycling in structured pace lines can reduce the required effort by up to 30%. In our fastest groups, the advantage of drafting is used to take up the pace to a high rate of speed while covering great distances. For our most moderate paced group, the advantage of drafting is used to make the rides less strenuous and more enjoyable. Our mid-paced groups use the advantage of pace lines balancing speed, distance and enjoyment to make for both a challenging and agreeable ride.

Riding safely in a pace line requires knowledge, understanding, adherence to Pace line Etiquette and practice. In this brief introduction to group riding, we’ll cover pace line structure, pace line rotation, and pace line etiquette dos and don’ts. We’ll also go over what to do to prepare for your ride, what to do when you arrive at the ride start, and some other good riding habits.


Bicycle riding has inherent risks of physical injury due to falls. You can minimize those risks and enjoy group cycling by preparing yourself and your bicycle, obeying the Highway Traffic Act and Local Municipal Bylaws about cycling, and by understanding and adhering to Pace line Etiquette.

Enjoy your cycling with Ancaster Velo!


Liability and Insurance

All riders MUST be paid-up Ancaster Velo members or otherwise have current Ontario Cycling Association (OCA) insurance in order to ride with the club. The only exception is for designated “Try Out” rides for which non-insured riders MUST sign a waiver.


The OCA insurance is only in effect for sanctioned rides. That is, rides on the Ancaster Velo schedule and other Ancaster Velo rides for which the OCA has been given advance notice.


The OCA insurance coverage is designed to protect a person against legal responsibility arising out of a negligent act or failure to act as a prudent person would have acted which results in bodily injury or property damage to another party.




There are two forms of Pace lines that we use:

  • Single Pace lines, and

  • Double Pace lines.


Normally, we ride in Double Pace line. However, we do ride in a Single Pace line on busier roads. For example, we will ride in a Single Pace line until we are out of the more heavily urbanized areas at the start of a ride. The Ride Leader will indicate when to ride in a single or double pace line.


Single Paceline


  • In a Single Pace line, each rider follows the rider directly in front of her/him in single file.

  • When the cyclist in the lead (shown in Red in the illustration) tires and wants to move to the rear, the cyclist will notify their intention to the other lead rider (Call out rotate). The lead cyclist will then move to the left before slowing down by easing up on the pressure on the pedals BUT continuing to pedal. This rider will drop to the back of the pace line before moving to the right behind the last cyclist in the line. The rider who was immediately behind the lead rider (shown in yellow) will move to the front without accelerating. That is, the lead cyclist will maintain the same speed.

Diagram showing Single Paceline Rotation in group cycling.

Double Paceline


  • In a Double Pace line, riders ride in two lines beside one another.

  • When the rider in the lead in the inside -right hand - line (rider in orange in the illustration) tires, he/she will tell the rider beside him (rider in red in the illustration) that he/she wants to rotate This cyclist will then slow down slightly and gradually by easing the pressure on the pedals WHILE continuing to pedal.

  • The lead rider in the outside – left hand – line (rider in red in the illustration) will maintain or ever so slightly increase her/his pace until she/he is clear of the rider in the lead in the inside line. She/he will then rotate to the right to take the lead in the inside line and resume the same pace as before the rotation began.

  • The rider at the rear of the inside line (rider in orange in the illustration) will rotate to the back of the outside line.



Paceline Etiquette DO’s

  1. Ride smoothly at a steady pace in a straight line.

  2. Keep your head up. Look ahead at the back of the rider in front of you and up the road. This will help you ride in a straight line and enable you to anticipate changes in speed.

  3. Anticipate changes in speed. While continuing to pedal, ease up on the pressure on your pedals to slow down. Minimize stopping to pedal altogether.

  4. Ride on your brake hood levers or on the handlebars drops for quick access to your brake levers if needed, BUT use your brakes sparingly and gently.

  5. Keep 30cm to 60cm behind the wheel of the rider in front of you when riding on flat terrain at an even pace. For riders who are new to pace lines, increase this distance to 60cm to 1m back.

  6. Increase the distance that you are following the rider in front of you when you anticipate the rider in front of you will stand up on the pedals. (e.g. when climbing a hill). When a rider stands up, his/her bike will seemingly ‘slide back’ a 30cm to 60cm or so.

  7. Increase the distance that you are following the rider in front of you if the rider is new to pace lines, pedals ‘in squares’, is grabbing for his/her water bottle or an energy bar/gel, etc.

  8. Pick up your speed gradually to close a gap that opens in front of you.

  9. When you are taking the lead at the front of the pace line, increase your speed only slightly until you are at the front of the line and then resume the pace prior the change in lead. Do not sprint.

  10. When you are dropping from the front of the pace line, decrease your speed slightly by easing up on the pressure on your pedals.

  11. Stay in your position in the pace line during the ride and following stops.

  12. When you are in a lead position, keep pedaling when going down an incline. If you stop pedaling and just roll down the hill, the riders drafting behind you will have to brake excessively.

  13. When you are in the lead position, signal road hazards such as potholes or debris by pointing down to them.

  14. When you are in the lead position, use a hand signal when you are braking to slow down or stop. Similarly, use hand signal when you are about to make a turn.

  15. Take a drink, energy gel or bar when you are at the back of the pace line.

  16. Switch the lead at the front of the pace line every 0.5 to 1.0km or more often as your speed, condition, the terrain or weather conditions require.


Paceline Etiquette DON’Ts

  1. DON'T make sudden movements.

  2. DON'T focus on the rear wheel of the bike immediately in front of you. Inevitably, this will predisposition you to ride erratically and brake excessively.

  3. DON'T use your brakes repeatedly and aggressively. Your erratic speed changes will make it uncomfortable for the riders behind you and could well cause a crash.

  4. DON'T overlap the wheel in front of you. This is a BIG pace line NO. Overlapping a wheel puts you in serious risk of crashing if the rider in front of you moves suddenly to the left or right. And if you crash, then it is more than likely that many of the riders behind you will also go down.

  5. DON'T sprint as you go to the front of the pace line. This will open gaps behind you and cause erratic riding within the pace line.

  6. DON'T increase the average pace of the ride when you go to the front of the pace line. A group ride is not a race. Ride at the advertised speed for the ride.

  7. DON'T “Half Wheel” the lead rider beside you. That is, ride just a little in front of your riding partner. A group ride is not the venue to show off how strong a rider you think you are compared to others.

  8. DON'T change your position in your pace line or switch from the inner to outer pace line while riding or even after stopping for a traffic sign or signal. Switching positions promotes erratic group riding which may lead to an accident.

  9. DON'T use a cell/mobile phone or headphones.

  10. DON'T take a drink, energy gel or bar when you are at the front of the pace line.

  11. DON'T stay at the front of the pace line until you are exhausted, start to ride erratically and get dropped as soon as you relinquish the lead.




  • Prepare yourself by doing some off-season indoor cycling and taking part in cross training activities such as x-country skiing and running. Try to get out on your bike a few times on your own before your first group ride to get comfortable on your bike again.

  • Buy and wear cycle-specific clothing and footwear. They will make your cycling more successful and comfortable. You MUST wear a helmet during rides with Ancaster Velo.

  • Make sure your bicycle is in good working order – Your ability to get the most out of the ride will be diminished by a mechanical problem. A serious mechanical breakdown could cut your ride short. Check that all nuts and bolts are tight, that your gears shift smoothly, that you brakes are effective (replace worn brake blocks), and that your tires are not worn or cut (a new pair of tires and tubes is highly recommended at the start of a new cycling season). Inflate your tires to the correct tire pressure. If you are using one of the new electrical shifting systems, verify that your battery is charged.

  • Be seen – If the ride is likely to continue within 30 minutes of sunset, you will need a working taillight.


NOTE: For your safety and the safety of others, the Ride Leaders will deny your participation in the ride

if in their opinion your bicycle is in an unsafe condition.

  • Bring a flat tire repair kit and multi-tool – You should be equipped and able to repair your own flats by replacing an inner tube. In any event, the Ride Leader and/or other riders will almost always offer their assistance with a flat tire or a minor mechanical repair.

  • Bring a cell phone – You may need to call 911 in an emergency, or call someone to pick-up you up if you are unable to continue the ride due to a mechanical breakdown.

  • Be prepared – Carry your Ancaster Velo Membership card at all times it contains Emergency Contact information in the event that you suffer a serious injury or become ill. Also carry some identification and a (copy of) your health card.

  • Bring documentation – Print/Obtain Copies Of Liability Waiver for “Try Out” Rides. If you’ll be riding a “Try Out” ride, bring your own completed signed waiver to the start of the ride. Without a signed waiver, you cannot participate. NO EXCEPTIONS. Only one “Try Out” ride is permitted for each individual. If you want to ride again, you MUST become a member of ANCASTER Velo. Early in the season, regular members should bring a copy of their registration receipt so ride leaders can easily verify membership.

  • Review the RideWithGPS Route Map that the Ride Organizer has prepared and sent out in advance of the ride. You’ll receive an email with this information if you are already a member. This will tell you the route and distance that each group is riding. You do not have to memorize the route as the Ride Leader will give directions at each turn.

  • Arrive Early at the starting location before the announced starting time. Ride Leaders will not wait for latecomers.

  • “Try Out” Riders and New Members

  • Introduce yourself to the Ride Leader(s). If you are riding a “Try Out” Ride, then give your completed and signed waiver form to the ride leader. No Signed Waiver - No Ride - No Exceptions. If you are a new member, show the ride your CCN Registration Receipt or membership card to confirm your membership. Tell the Ride Leader about yourself. It will be helpful for the Ride Leader to know how much experience you have with group riding, the average pace you can handle, and the distance you are capable of riding. This will help the Ride Leader(s) to advise you which group that best suits your capabilities and interests. If in doubt, start out with Group 4 which rides at the most moderate pace. The Ride Leaders will be happy to answer your questions.

  • Helmets are mandatory on all Ancaster Velo rides. No Helmet - No Ride - No Exceptions

  • Shared Starts with Other Groups

  • Be punctual The rides start at 5 minutes after the ride assembly time. That is, 9:00am rides start at 9:05am. Make sure you are hooked up with the right Group/Ride Leader. When there are multiple groups leaving from the same locations, the groups will depart at staggered intervals with the fastest group starting first.





Follow The Highway Traffic Act and local Municipal By-Laws


Come to a full stop at traffic lights, and do not proceed before the light turns green. Respect all traffic signs. Signal turns and stops. Any rider who repeatedly ignores stop signs, traffic lights or otherwise rides recklessly will be suspended from taking part in Ancaster Velo rides.


A bicycle is considered a vehicle under the terms of the Highway Traffic Act and the cyclist must obey all traffic laws. Recent amendments to the Act require all cyclists to identify themselves to police when stopped for making a traffic violation. Verbally identifying yourself and saying where you live is sufficient - you do not have to produce your driver's license (doing so may result in demerit points going against your license and increasing your insurance rates).

Please remember, the Ancaster Velo jersey is very much a Billboard that says who we are. Please uphold our reputation.


Respect the Directions of the Ride Leader


The Ride Leader will not only give directions for turns, but will also control the pace of the ride, ensure pace line etiquette, assist during mechanical breakdowns, and arrange for help if necessary due to illness or accident. Riders who try to usurp the authority of the Ride Leader are not appreciated by other riders. The Ride Leader has the authority of ANCASTER Velo to ask you to leave the ride if you do not follow his/her directions.


Ride at the Advertised Pace


Keep to the advertised pace of the ride. A group ride is NOT a race though Group 1 rides can be very fast and very physically challenging. Resist the urge to increase the pace or ride off the front. Half-Wheeling is considered VERY bad manners on a group ride. If you find the pace too slow or too fast, then you may enjoy riding with a faster or slower group your next ride.


Occasionally, you may find that you are struggling to keep up with the group pace. Most often, you will first notice this when the route goes uphill or the route is going into a strong headwind. If you are having trouble keeping up, tell the Ride Leader or another rider. Do not abandon the ride without telling anyone.

The Ride Leader may arrange for the group to temporarily slow down or stop to regroup while you recover your breath, have an energy drink/bar/gel. The Ride Leader may also talk with you find out if you are feeling ill so medical assistance may be arrange.

Ultimately the Ride Leader is responsible for the group as a whole, and may resume the ride at advertised pace. The Ride Leader will check with you to determine if you are going to continue the ride by yourself at a slower rid, ride directly back to the start, or arrange for someone to come pick you up. We do not want to leave anyone stranded.


Flat and Other Mechanical Electrical Breakdowns

If you have a flat or mechanical breakdown, then get completely off the road before attempting to diagnose the problem or make a repair. Stopping on the road with your attention focused on the problem at hand rather than being attentive to traffic may expose you to being struck by a motor vehicle. The Ride Leader will remind you of this protocol, and ask other riders who have stopped to also get completely off the road.

In Case of Accident/Injury

If you happen to have an accident and/or injury during the ride, Ride Leaders will first ensure that there is a safe perimeter around you. Then they will ask if they have your permission to render aid. If and only if you have given permission, then they will attempt to assess your condition and administer first aid. If you have a fall and immediately get back up, they will still look for any signs of concussion. In case of serious injury, they will call 911. While waiting for emergency personnel to arrive, they will try to get relevant information such as your emergency contact, etc that they can pass along to the responders.


Thank the Ride Leader! Give him/her feedback about what you liked about the ride, about any concerns that you had, and about suggestion for improvement. 

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