Obsessed with Cycling Drills: The Reverse Paceline Drill

Everyone (I hope) knows what a paceline is, right? If not, here is a paceline drill from a past OCD to introduce your riders to real pacelines. They are a great way to simulate outdoor riding. 

A reverse paceline is simply going the opposite way; instead of dropping back after taking a pull at the front, you move from the back of the line to the front, requiring that you push harder and pedal faster to reach there. For that reason, this cycling drill can be even harder than a regular paceline.

You can use this drill as a fun game in your classes. In fact, it is a type of “fartlek” training, which is a Swedish word for “speedplay.” Fartleks are unstructured, haphazard intervals.

When we are in a studio riding stationary bikes that don’t go anywhere, drills like this always come down to using creative visualization to set the scene for your riders.

Here is the visual I like to describe for my class.


  1. Wow! I used this reverse pace line drill profile for my class today, and my students LOVED it! Thank you, Jennifer, for another winner!

    1. Author

      so glad you enjoyed it! I’ve got several variations of this drill that we’ll post in upcoming OCD articles!

  2. Loving this post! I’ve done the reverse pace line with teams of 3. I would call out the rider number and then they would stand and surge to get to the front of the line, then ride back. I’ve always done it for a specified time, but I never thought about varying the time or giving the “pass” option. I guess because I don’t ride pace lines outside. I’ve only done it one time with another lady when we were riding a century. We would ride a set amount of time, then switch for the pull, in order to keep our legs as fresh as possible. This is really great stuff. Thanks!

  3. I did something similar the other night where I partnered riders for a Paceline segment. They decided who would be first to stand, pass to the front and then return seated to hold their work for as long as possible (till power dropped). When they saw that happen they called out “Pass” and the next rider took over. Some of my teams had 3 riders due to numbers. I didn’t assign a time for each effort. Prior to the start i asked them, ” How long can you sustain that kind of effort?” i wanted riders to see, feel and understand that it is different for everyone. They had to stay close to their partner in work effort and really pay attention to the call out of “Pass” so there was no slacking otherwise overall average power would be low compared to other teams. Most riders got about 2 efforts of work in during the segment. Everyone loved the team work and the ownership to one another. I received several emails and comments afterwards of how fun it what and the request for more opportunities to repeat this. Who knew working so hard for someone else could be so motivating and fun.

    1. Renee — really like that…what song(s) did you use and what was overall duration

      1. I used Mombassa (Inception 2010) by Hans Zimmer 4:55. It was such a hit (no play on words) and requested for Saturday’s class that i’m adding it in as a 9:00 segment because they wanted more and longer. I’m using Drive Like LIghtning (Crash like Thunder) by Brian Setzer Orchestra and Bring It Up by Beatz Societ. Hope your group has fun with it.

        1. Excellent song to use, with a quick pace and driving beat with the drums. (Great car chase song)

    2. Great stuff! So they really had to be pushing it to max out their watts and “pass” the effort to their teammate in a short time Would you say the effort your riders used was higher than what Jennifer described above?

      1. I’d say most when passing and holding their hard effort of power at the front for as long as they could were more than likely HZ4 maybe a little into zone 5 lower for others. It really was power driven and the guide not heart rate. I cued them for their max power effort while watching when their power began the slide backwards. Next time i’m going for 12:00 because they handled the 9:00 really well too.

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