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Life in the Bike Lane

Rock up!

By: Tom Frady
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“Rock up!” was the shout from the pace line’s front. 

I was not only new to cycling but had never ridden in a pace line before. 

I had absolutely no idea what “rock up” meant. It sounded like “rock it” or rock ’n’ roll or “let’s rock” or something meaning “let’s go faster.”

I shifted to a different gear, hung on and waited for a change of pace.

Nothing happened. I guess I did OK.

I had traveled to San Luis Obispo to visit my sister and she had arranged for me to ride with some of her friends. I met them in the Food4Less parking lot. One tandem, two singles and me. 

“Have you ever ridden in a pace line?” I was asked. 

“Not much,” I said, by which I meant “not ever.” 

A quick digression for those of you non-cyclists who are accidentally reading this column. A pace line is a group of cyclists riding single file, very close together, to take advantage of the draft, just like NASCAR.  

A rider three or four bikes back can save as much as 40 percent of his energy and the entire line can go faster than a single rider. In a real pace line, the rider up front will peel off after a time and drift to the back.  The next rider takes over for a while and then does the same.

Back to my pace line.

Having survived rocking up, I was feeling pretty good. Then I heard, “Bus up!” Again, a new term for me.  It probably meant “ride closer together” or maybe get two abreast, as if we were sitting in a bus. 

Again, whatever I did or didn’t do (I didn’t do) seemed to be OK, as we continued on with no obvious change.

I will have to say that for a novice rider, not only was I keeping up with these hot rods, I seemed to have this “pace line” thing down cold. 

We had been on the road for a couple of hours and turned to head out to Avila Beach and Port San Luis. When we were between the two, the rider in front yelled “Truck up!” 

OK. I’ve rocked and bussed and we have been truckin’ for more than two hours. What now?

Oh. Now I see it. Up ahead, an 18 wheeler was making a U-turn.  A “truck up” ahead. Truck up.  Bus up. Rock up. 

If you are riding closely behind another rider, you might not see an obstacle in the road. A rock, glass, pothole, car, etc.  “Car back!” is often heard in a group of riders.  One of the best pieces of safety equipment you can have is a mirror, mounted either on your handlebars or helmet. 

It is important for riders to help each other be safe.  Point at dangers in the road and don’t be shy about being loudly vocal.

And it might help to review a glossary of bike terms, too.

Tom Frady is a Lincoln resident and avid cyclist and driver.