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Tips for using group rides as training for racing

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Tips for using group rides as training for racing

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Old 09-30-17, 10:42 PM
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Radish_legs
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Tips for using group rides as training for racing

I already have my opinions on this. Some of which I included in a recent VLOG.

But since there are more Cat 1/2 racers here than I thought that use group riding as their main or only training, I would like to hear how you guys maximize your training on these group rides.
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Old 09-30-17, 10:59 PM
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I'm a 4, show I'll just show myself to the 41.
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Old 09-30-17, 11:25 PM
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Originally Posted by furiousferret View Post
I'm a 4, show I'll just show myself to the 41.
Yes, I have considered that a "33 refugee" thread on the 41 may be in the cards.
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Old 09-30-17, 11:51 PM
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You can use them to refine your racecraft. Practice attacking, getting into breaks, setting up a sprint, whatever. They're a good place to try to test yourself in a race setting without it being a race.

Unless you know the route is setup for it, they're not the best place for doing intervals. That doesn't mean you can't get similar work in. If there are some climbs, go nuts, then recover in the group. It really depends on what you want out of the ride and what the ride will allow.

I do more group rides than in the past because the camraderie helps keep me on the bike. Winter is coming though, so its time to dust the cobwebs off the trainer.
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Old 10-01-17, 01:27 AM
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I see group rides like junk food: sure, you could survive on junk food, but it's not the best idea. And sitting in a draft isn't really training, unless you're behind a car or a scooter. It's better than nothing, but that's not saying much.

But, I do eat junk food - and I do the local race rides.

"Spectrum" is the big local one down here in the south bay, every Saturday @ 9 AM. 50+ people, mostly racers, open two-lane roads, about 45 miles long with some town-line-like sprints. I would guess the average racer is cat 3 on this ride, but there are some cat 6's too for sure. Last time I did it I noticed that it's mostly an older crowd, I'd guesstimate 40 as the average age. (wait - I'm 40 next year.. ugh)

For me, it breaks up the monotony of doing solo 2-3 hour z2 or high-cadence rides during the week, which is mostly what I do during the Base period/winter. It's partially a social thing too - I see a lot of friends there, and a few people I race against.

When I do Spectrum, I'll use the sprints as practice for real sprint - although they're way easier. (I win a lot of them on this ride, which mostly speaks to how few legit cat 1s do it). So I'll try out different gearing, jumping at different times, or practice leadouts with a teammate or two. I'll also try to get in some breaks here and there, since @Ygduf is usually there and usually in the break.

As for pack-handling I get plenty of that in races, and this is way more like a road race than a crit, so I don't really count Spectrum as helping that. Mostly I try to avoid the cat 6 squirrels and the occasional crash.

When I do Spectrum's 45 miles, I'll usually tack on another 40+ after it. If I try to keep the (z2) power on after a race ride like that, I figure that's when I'm really getting a benefit in. The race ride is just an easy way to get some quick miles in, but I don't count it as true "training."

Fwiw I never did race rides in Seattle when I was a cat 6,5,4,3,2 - I only did the summer weekday crit and team rides which were much slower. And no, I don't think group rides helped me get to cat 1. But who knows, maybe they did? It was mostly @Ygduf 's coaching that got me to cat 1 probably.
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Old 10-01-17, 07:19 AM
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Originally Posted by mattm View Post
Last time I did it I noticed that it's mostly an older crowd, I'd guesstimate 40 as the average age. (wait - I'm 40 next year.. ugh)
I did the 40+ cross race recently. (With cross, it's your racing age at the end of the season, which means the end of 2018.)
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Old 10-01-17, 07:30 AM
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Eh, I like em. Race your face off on the weekend, recover, do group ride mid week for speed work, recover, race your face off again. I'll throw a couple of hours of light z2 in front of the ride for some extra volume and turn it into a 4-4.5hr day. Sometimes I will have a specific plan like doing a few blocks of tempo on the front, other times I'll mostly sit in and enjoy the bonhomie. The caveat is, you have to be fit enough for the group ride to not feel like a workout unless you want it to be a workout, otherwise you're basically doing relatively hard unstructured intervals and wearing yourself down.
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Old 10-01-17, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by TheKillerPenguin View Post
you have to be fit enough for the group ride to not feel like a workout unless you want it to be a workout, otherwise you're basically doing relatively hard unstructured intervals and wearing yourself down.
What's funny is I do the exact same group rides and usually see race equivalent NP numbers.
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Old 10-01-17, 07:42 AM
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Unless you're strong enough to dictate the group ride (and if you dictate all the time you'll likely either drop the group or they'll stop riding with you), your training is not being dictated by you, which means your training is likely not as good or specific as it can be.

For an aspiring racer regardless the category, I'd consider using group rides as your main training staple a fundamental mistake.

Once or twice a week can be useful if you're capable of recovering enough to do your own workouts 1-2 other times. Or if you can do your workout before the group ride, even better.

But you're not going to be as good as you can be, if that's something you're interested in.

Group rides are also quite inefficient time-wise, if that's a concern.
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Old 10-01-17, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by globecanvas View Post
What's funny is I do the exact same group rides and usually see race equivalent NP numbers.

Not race equivalent efforts though!

Group ride is like

Z1 ========
Z2 =======
Z3 =====
Z4 ====
Z5 ===
Z6 ==
Z7 =

Race is like

Z1 ============
Z2 ====
Z3 ==
Z4 =
Z5 ==
Z6 ====
Z7 ======
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Old 10-01-17, 07:58 AM
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Similar! Group ride keeps me from going too hard during intervals basically. Kinda a conscious decision on my part, I'm bad at holding myself back when assigned say, mid week vo2 work. I'd rather do a Tuesday practice crit and a Wednesday group ride. Probably isn't ideal, but I'd rather be over rested than under rested, which is usually what I do to myself with structured mid week stuff!
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Old 10-01-17, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by globecanvas View Post
Not race equivalent efforts though!

Group ride is like

Z1 ========
Z2 =======
Z3 =====
Z4 ====
Z5 ===
Z6 ==
Z7 =

Race is like

Z1 ============
Z2 ====
Z3 ==
Z4 =
Z5 ==
Z6 ====
Z7 ======
Hmm, mine look more like:


Z1 ============
Z2 ====
Z3 =
Z4 =
Z5 ========
Z6 =
Z7 =

But that might be because I'm ****.

Last edited by cb400bill; 10-05-17 at 08:39 PM. Reason: bypassing forum censor
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Old 10-01-17, 10:02 AM
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My group ride yesterday:


The 4/5 Crit I won in May (my last race):
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Old 10-01-17, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Radish_legs View Post
My group ride yesterday:
So you basically "wasted" an hour and a half from a training perspective.

That's what drove me nuts when I first got a powermeter, and what ultimately drove me away from big rides for the majority of my training. So much time spent not actually riding.
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Old 10-02-17, 11:49 AM
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Almost everyone I group ride with is faster than me. Some a little, some a lot.

This helps me for the probably obvious reason. I'm riding faster/harder than I would alone.

Our Wednesday ride is fast, but no-drop on the way out, faster and avoid getting dropped on the way back. Other than riding harder than I could by myself, I'm also learning about pack efficiency. I get dropped after some stronger riders because I'm way smarter about which wheel I'll draft and do a lot better job of keeping myself out of the wind.

The only unfortunate part is that as I'm gaining fitness, the overall group isn't getting faster. A few guys are, which keeps it interesting, but overall training benefit is diminishing. That doesn't mean I won't keep doing it. I look forward to actually attacking instead of following (read: hanging on) to attacks. Once I get there, I'll learn/train the attack/recover/attack/recover cycle.
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Old 10-02-17, 11:53 AM
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Around SoCal each group ride has a different personality. During "serious" training, coaches mostly tell riders to cut the group rides, unless replacing a race with one. Some of these rides - Like Como I think could, and do replace a race, while others are just too unpredictable, dangerous, or hard for recovery, or not hard enough for improving.

I've done all these, but never made it over Como on my own in the front (I have on Tandem) and was happy to see my kid do them.

T-Thu 5:30PM sharp
San Clemente Market Ride - Fast, rolling, starts fast, racers come in warm. Used to start slow. Generally ave >25 and many 30mph+ sections.
Wind affects things on this one a lot. Most good riders can stay with this one, but it is generally thought too hard for mid-week. Sprint is in the 40s.

Sat
Food Park - In the heart of The OC also fast with hills at the end and Coast Hwy riding. You better like cars. Long decent to coast is 30+. Not the safest ride.
Swami's - Classic in N San Diego County. Cav, Sagan have shown up. Very hard middle section about :30 min in then regroup at the church and goes to a long tempo ride, or a faster winding return.
San Diego Bike Club - A ride. - Shares some of the Swami's roads for the opposite direction. Generally not the fastest and you will get a talking to if going too hard in the A group. There are some hard climb sections, but it generally mellows and there is a regroup. Finishes going S along the coast and that is the fastest. SDBC is a social long standing club. I think the social/regroup part is what holds it together.

Sunday
Como, back hills of the OC - Santiago Canyon. Area used for 2008 USA Nats. Also area of 1984 Olympics.
This is THE ride in SoCal I think, but I'm biased. Sections are harder than many RRs at the front (so riders that can hang in Cat 2, Cat 1 can't on the Cooks climb). It starts real mellow and social as they pick up riders. On El Toro 2% grade becomes race pace and they drop riders. Then long through Live Oak (Cat 1/2 if you plan on not being dropped), or short up Cooks where it asplodes. From Cooks Corner to top of Santiago climb is a 4% grade and 5-6 min drag race and Strava Segment. Riders trying to Strava it will get to back at the start. The front group keeps drilling it, while others with reform groups.
Annually there is a race (not USAC) on this road that brings out a bunch of top riders and there is a Cup awarded going back to 1976. Google Rogers Cup Como.
The LUX kids will sometimes skip races to do this ride as a group. It is not completely unusual to have 1-2 riders with WC stripes (of some division) on the sleeves in this ride.

Last edited by Doge; 10-02-17 at 12:01 PM.
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Old 10-02-17, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by globecanvas View Post
Not race equivalent efforts though!

Group ride is like

Z1 ========
Z2 =======
Z3 =====
Z4 ====
Z5 ===
Z6 ==
Z7 =

Race is like

Z1 ============
Z2 ====
Z3 ==
Z4 =
Z5 ==
Z6 ====
Z7 ======
mine generally both look like your first one, but then again I get into breaks often in both

I feel like I should be the expert on using group rides to get from 5->1 because that's exactly what I did.

There's no secret. Figure out what you want to work on and work on that. Group/Race ride is just like 90/60 where intervals can be 100/0.
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Old 10-02-17, 01:10 PM
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Your group rides, no doubt, are harder and have more depth. They're probably much larger also.
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Old 10-02-17, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by gsteinb View Post
Your group rides, no doubt, are harder and have more depth. They're probably much larger also.
Maybe, but I also end up doing silly stuff like letting myself fall 20s off the back to force myself to dig back on, or attacking hard to get the split and then drifting back. \_(ツ)_/

I figure if you're able to push yourself to XYZ level in an interval, at worst you could do that off the front of a race ride. Some of the nomenclature might just be different through. The "group" rides I do have high skill variation and they aren't friendly or no-drop. Attacks, counters, and gamesmanship are expected and accepted.
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Old 10-05-17, 03:30 PM
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I'm only a 3, so take my comments for what they're worth. Yes, group rides may not be the most efficient, but they're fun. And bike riding should be fun. Also, you can make them more efficient training (whatever that means to you) by showing up with a plan. That could be attacking/recovering, taking big pulls, or sitting in and chilling. It's the chance to try stuff that may or may not work.

Also keep in mind that learning how to be comfortable in a group, how to hide from the wind, how to "read" other racers, are all skills that require training, just like your FTP.
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Old 10-05-17, 07:44 PM
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I used to do a Sunday team group ride and one or two of the local death rides (one on Tuesday and one on Thursday) that were often pretty intense.

I found the Sunday team rides much better for training as they were usually longer (typically 70+ miles) and we allowed what we called shenanigans where random attacks were not discouraged, but rather encouraged. We always regrouped and rode on. Lots of instruction was given as well. This is how it should be done.

Our local "worlds" were fun to do, but not that good for training. You never knew how it would unfold. Sometimes it was fast and steady and sometimes it was sprint after sprint. I just went to them with a particular training idea and if I wasn't going to get it I just fell off the back and did my own ride.
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