Posted by: Don Linnen | 10 July 2007

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Ever wonder what a paceline really is? It’s a great example of playing nice…when it works.

A typical paceline is a group of people in a hurry to get somewhere that follow in line right behind each other. Sounds kind of goofy if you remember playing follow the leader as a kid, especially when you thought it was really fun to stop all of a sudden when you were in front.

You ain’t seen goofy till you’ve seen some guys wearing dorky little helmets matching their garishly colored spandex and riding bicycles in a paceline. And when you see this, and understand it, you might revise your opinion of what goofy is.

The Tour de France began again on Saturday with 189 riders. A bunch of crazy guys have been riding this epic bike race across France since 1903. Le Tour and Versus offers us some quality visuals on working together…or not.

The strategy of the race is pretty simple. Survive and get to the finish line first.

The tactics aren’t much more complicated. Teams of nine guys ride in a line…a paceline. The first guy leads and the rest follow closely behind him using about 2/3 the effort. When the first guy gets tired, he rotates back, and someone else leads…starts pulling the team from the front.

These teams are sometimes closely choreographed and sometimes not. Most of the time the teams form a larger group or pack (the peleton) to fight the wind for the long haul. They’re still working together to save energy even though they’re competitors.

Sometimes a few impatient (or really ambitious) guys will break away from the pack. Those individuals will become their own ad hoc team (for a while) to work together to beat the pack. Most of the time, but not always, the larger group will catch and pass the smaller group just by working together.

Do ya get the theme here yet? This sharing the load – getting along – working together thing?

It is pretty neat and works amazingly well. Working together to go further and faster with less effort. Wow! What a concept.

So why don’t more people do it? Why don’t more nonprofits do it? Especially if their hearts beat to the plight of the same cause?


  1. […] Build a team. One that pulls together to go further and faster with less effort. Just like a paceline. […]

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