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PACELINES

What are they and why do they matter?

Paceline

When skating any distance the biggest challenge for the skater is to overcome air resistance. It uses up considerable energy particularly when the wind is blowing head-on. To minimise the effects of this skaters line up one behind the other and skate closely together. This involves a bit of skill and trust in the ability of the front skaters.

Silke from Gourock explains the paceline procedure in more detail at the Berlin marathon.

The pace line is organized by Experts-In-Speed. 130 skaters that signed up to join pacelines met up 5 hours before the start of the race to be divided into groups for practise. There was already an electric atmosphere in front of the Brandenburg Gate in glorious sunshine. I met up with my 2 fellow Scottish skaters, Don who would be in my pace line and Marcello who was going to attempt a time of 1hour 35 mins.

Pacelines

Unfortunately, our group was very big with 20 people of very different ability. There were 3 "pacers" or guides, but it became clear that it would be very difficult to keep the group together. It is all about keeping the rhythm of the skater in front, keeping only a small distance so you benefit from drafting (minimising air resistance) and trusting that they will warn you about obstacles, hazards, changes in direction, etc.

We then had a discussion about the aims of each of us, i.e. just staying together as a group without being too focussed on the time or going for the time no matter what. There were a few of us who wanted to go for the time and I was certainly up for it.

The practice of skating one behind the other is known as drafting. Effective drafting requires confidence and adaptability. No two skaters stride is exactly the same. Fluctuations in speed and cadence added to the confusion of a pack of skaters make skating very tricky.

Paceline xx

Drafting is what allows inline races to be fast and what allows skaters to implement and exploit race tactics. It is a means for skaters to conserve energy in the shelter of others and allows weaker skaters to hang in with the main pack. Without drafting inline races would be dull and boring. Drafting is so intimately tied to the sport that it defines the true essence of inline racing. Skaters who lack the skill to draft efficiently and confidently suffer a severe disadvantage.

(Read more in Barry Publow's book, Speed-on-Skates.)

(also see Inline Inline Planet Drafting & Pacelines)