Workout of the Week: Motor Pacing

Use motor pacing—purposeful riding behind a scooter, moped, or e-bike—to add race-specific intensity into your training while working on skills and confidence at higher speeds.

Two cyclists motor pacing behind a red car on a sunny day
Photo: Razvan

This week’s workout comes to us from Lachlan Morton, rider for EF Education–EasyPost and the newly crowned winner of the 2023 Evolution Gravel Race in Tanzania. Morton describes motor pacing as one of his favorite in-season training sessions to do for honing racing form.

“You’re getting intensity,” he says. “but it doesn’t require the same mental strength as if you were to do it yourself.”

Try motor pacing 7-10 days before your A race to gain confidence in your speed. Couple it with a workout of your choosing that will prepare you for the needs of the event. For example, if you will be doing long, steady racing, do a long, steady motor-paced ride. Don’t worry about maintaining exact numbers in your effort; focus more on pushing harder on steeper climbs and resting on downhills to mimic racing. “If you do it right, I always feel like you’ve finished that last hour feeling better than when you started,” says Morton.

Because of the challenging nature of this workout, we recommend the rider and pacer to have some experience and comfort with this. You will be drafting close on the wheel of a moped, scooter, or e-bike, and your pacer needs to understand that swerving or braking suddenly is dangerous for you. A coach or teammate would be the best pacer, and you can create hand signals to communicate your needs to them—just make sure their vehicle is equipped with mirrors so they can see you!

Another safety consideration is your route, as you don’t want your pacer to impede other motorists on the road. Ideal routes for motor pacing are low-traffic roads with wide shoulders and multiple lanes. If this isn’t possible, consider the safer option. A windy, single-lane road up a canyon is going to be more hazardous than a flat, single-lane road with ample shoulder space.

Workout of the Week: Motor Pacing

Before the workout

  • Choose your pacer. We recommend a coach or teammate.
  • Create hand signals for you and your pacer to communicate your needs
  • Determine a workout aligned with your goals
  • Choose a safe route that allows you to give 100% focus to the workout

During the workout

  • Make safety a priority: Ride close enough to the back wheel to get a draft, but maintain a safe distance in case the “motor” needs to alter course
  • Pull in and out of the draft as needed to increase your work or take a rest
  • Don’t forget to eat and hydrate, just like you would in a race