You are in a breakaway or a paceline, how long should you pull?
That is a good question and let’s keep the answer simple: look at where the wind is coming from to determine whether to take long or short pulls.
Yes, you need to learn to be a weatherman as a road cyclist. You should ALWAYS be looking for signs to help you determine where the wind is coming from. Look for flags and listen to the sound of your wheels. If you can hear strongly the sound of your wheels it’s a tailwind, if you cannot that means it’s a headwind.
When determining the length of your pulls in a paceline follow these guidelines:
Headwind: Long pulls.
The key to riding in a headwind is keeping the pace steady. Each time you change riders you drop the speed and then increase it. This is slower and harder on the group. Think of a head wind like a climb. Imagine short pulls on a climb? Speed would be low and the whole group would be pegged.
Tailwind: Short but steady pulls.
The tailwind keeps the speed of the group up so a continuous rotation is better and smoother for the group. Avoids surges as well. Surges in a headwind are not so bad, but surges in a tailwind are death to your break or paceline companions.
Give these tips a try on your next ride and go further, faster, and smoother!