Chaingang/Paceline/Through & Off - what workouts to get better?

Good morning gang!

This year, I’ve jumped onto my club’s chaingang rides and finding them REALLY tough. I know that’s the idea but I feel like I should be doing better than I am. I’m frequently getting ‘my head kicked’ in. It’s a pretty flat coastal loop of about 23 miles and we get around it in 55 mins - 60 mins depending on traffic junctions etc.

I train for about 10 hours per week, pretty consistently but I’d say I do a mix of club rides @ 4 hours on a Sunday, some 2 hour pootles and at this time of year I use Trainer Road mainly for a recovery ride or two (45 mins lazy mountain etc).

FTP hovers around 300, 175lbs (79-80kg) so around 3.7 Watts/kg. Ohh, also I’m a tall rider, 6ft 4 which I think is around 193cm. I’d say I’m at my ideal weight for my height give or take a couple of pounds but that power number probably wouldn’t be considered high for my height/weight.

I’ve always found Threshold workouts the toughest on TR but enjoyed VO2 max workouts more. I likely the shorter harder efforts opposed to longer hard intervals.

Cutting through my waffle, basically my question is, what type of TR workouts would you say to focus on the improve chaingang style riding. In my mind, they feel as close to a race as I can get without actually riding in a proper race. Thanks guys, all advice/tips is welcome!

Workouts wise for sure Over Unders.

I found these replicated the horrid feeling in a fast chain gang of taking the wind then still having to hold a high power until the rider behind pulled in front, and the realising the power requirement didn’t drop off as much as you’d hope before you needed to rinse and repeat :joy:


Hey there!

Paceline riding can be HARD – pro breakaway riders make it look so easy. :joy:

If you’re new to it, there’s a lot to be gained in technique/bike handling alone. The more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll start to feel being closer and closer to other riders, which means you’ll get better at sheltering yourself from the wind – even if you’re taller!

I’m a big fan of bump drills when it comes to getting more comfortable with pack riding. If you haven’t done them before, try to get some willing friends to go out to a field with you and you can ride around and intentionally bump into each other. It helps you figure out what it actually feels like when you’re jostling in a peloton, and it can be super helpful for knowing how to handle those situations when they come up in races/fast rides.

Beyond bike handling/pack confidence, though, I think workouts like Over-Under Intervals sound like what you’re looking for! They’re hard workouts, but they do a great job simulating what it feels like to rotate through a fast-moving paceline.

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Over unders are the workout type for sure. The over representing when you are on the front and the under when you are ‘recovering’ as you rotate round to do another turn.

If you are staying with the group to the finish - even though you are “getting your head kicked in” - you aren’t doing too badly already.

If you do the chaingang every week, you can regard it as your over/under workout for the week.


I’m similar dimensions to you (6’3”/180lbs). As others say, over-unders are the key workout. They suck, but they’ll make you stronger!

Probably obvious, but think carefully about your bike position and aerodynamics if you can. Sounds like your ride is going to be super aero-dependent (flat, fast, probably windy at times.) We large ganglier folks get less drafting advantage when following smaller riders, so being conscious of keeping a fairly aero position even when in the wheels can make a big difference. That in turn requires flexibility, core strength and a saddle that’s comfy even when ‘on the rivet’. Sunday I found myself in a “breakaway” (just part of a fast group ride) with a strong rider who’s ~5’6”, all quads, and mainly rides track so VERY aero position. I swear drafting behind him provided absolutely no rest.

Also pay close attention to your positioning within the group; riding closer to other riders and carefully timing your transition between sides of a pace line can save you spiking watts to close gaps, which makes a huge difference in overall RPE. Fast group rides are fun, enjoy!


The group ride itself is probably the best training.

I agree with others that you probably have easier gains to be made in technique than fitness. If you’re new to group rides you undoubtedly waste energy by being unaware of the direction of the wind, pull through harder than necessary, and keep too much clearance around you (on all sides). When I first started riding with fast experienced riders I was struck by how few cm they left between wheels and between elbows when rotating through the paceline. Keep it smooth and predictable (don’t stop pedaling just bc you just pulled off) and you don’t need much buffer.

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Wow, thanks for the replies guys, it’s much appreciated and the opinions I can see are pretty consistent. Over/Unders, work on core strength and get more confident and wiser with my group positioning and aero position on the bike. Sounds easy :star_struck:

I’m convinced I always end up on the wheel of the “shortest” rider too. As you said, may aswell just be riding on the front :rofl:

This is not a lottery. Others are making conscious decisions


The workouts have been covered already but I want to add that you should make sure you study the wind direction too. Stay on the protected side. I am one of the weaker rides in my chaingang (at similar W/kg as you) and I always know which is the protected side. Then I make a conscious decision to get on that side - even swapping inside/outside depending on where we are on course.

To back up what Proffate said too - people are making conscious decisions on the wheels they’re following when they can. Know what wheels will give you a draft AND are safe. There’s nothing worse or tiring than being on an unsafe wheel of someone who doesn’t have a firm grasp on group dynamics.

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Yeah, and vice versa. When I know I’m one of the stronger riders I will get on the upwind side to help out

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