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Group Rides v Solo Intervals

Old 04-26-07, 06:50 PM
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Group Rides v Solo Intervals

My team and other local teams offer lots of fast group rides of all description. Some of my teammates seem to do almost all of them, which surprises me because the conventional wisdom is highly structured solo intervals (usually dictated by a coach), with maybe one group ride a week.

Structured solo intervals pretty much suck. Group rides = lack of boredom and ability to ride longer and harder maybe but structured intervals are specific and targeted and give you the workout you need on that day.

So what's your rough breakdown? Pre-season? Season?

I wonder if the breakdown varies by how long someone has been racing...
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Old 04-26-07, 06:57 PM
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My schedule for last week (from my coach) was rest monday, 4 hrs mountain bike climbing tuesday, wednesday night worlds wednesday (group ride), intervals thursday w/TTT practice, rest friday, race saturday sunday.

So, one group ride, one interval day, 2 race days (basically crazy group rides), one mtb ride to get me ready for that season. Personally, I wouln't want to do only intervals or only group rides, a mix of both is perfect for me.
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Old 04-26-07, 07:30 PM
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I think you need both, structured hard (solo intervals) and unstructured hard (group) rides feel different to me. I prefer doing mostly solo intervals, or intervals with 1 or 2 team mates, seems easier to focus on specificity, and only do group rides as race substitutes (like this weekend coming weekend, where I wont be racing), or when I'm burnt out on doing the solo intervals and want to mix it up with some others.
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Old 04-26-07, 07:59 PM
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you definitely need both. I generally do at least one group ride a week. As it gets intothe season, usually 2 group rides.

Group rides however can keep you from doing the focused work you need however. So you can't dogroup rides to the point that you can't do your interval work well.
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Old 04-26-07, 08:07 PM
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Many years ago, I rode with my team three nights a week and raced on the weekends. If there was no races, then I rode those days with the team, also. We had a great time and we were fast, but our racing results were minimal. I was a Cat 4 at the time and I finally decided to only train with the team one night a week, two at the most, and do my own thing the rest of the time. My results improved dramatically and I was a Cat 2 within a couple years. The biggest thing that I noticed that was our Tuesday night rides seemed to be a self-flagelation type thing as penance for the poor weekend results, when we should have been resting more.

Then again, we were self-coached and we needed somebody to give us structure or focus like the previous poster mentions.
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Old 04-26-07, 09:33 PM
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I think it all depends upon the nature of your group rides and what your own weaknesses are. If you can use your group rides to strengthen your your weak spots, then do so. Our Thursday Nighter is basically a short race...there's no waiting and if you're dropped, you're on your own. The field is represented by anyone from 1's to 5's and Masters and is usually quite large. One thing I've noticed is that the strongest guys are the ones out there attacking and making breakaways the most often. But most of the guys just sit in for the entire ride and are content to hang and try for the final sprint. So really, you get out of it what you put in.
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Old 04-26-07, 09:46 PM
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Structured intervals are critical for race training for a few reasons:

• You need to get used to dropping your hammer on demand, solo intervals teach you how that feels.

• You need to know how to push yourself on command.

• You need the structure that intervals with a HRM or Power Meter can give you - that group rides may not afford you.

Both will help you get fitter. But I think solo intervals are kind of critical.
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Old 04-26-07, 11:29 PM
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contrary to what alot of ppl on these forums think, you do not need group rides to get better. sure they keep things from getting too boring, which is why ill do them every couple weeks or so, but the best training comes from solo workouts where you can taylor your effort to the exact time and power u need to maximize training benefit.
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Old 04-26-07, 11:30 PM
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Originally Posted by stea1thviper
contrary to what alot of ppl on these forums think, you do not need group rides to get better. sure they keep things from getting too boring, which is why ill do them every couple weeks or so, but the best training comes from solo workouts where you can taylor your effort to the exact time and power u need to maximize training benefit.
+1

Group rides are usually too stochastic and unstructured. I prefer to do most of my training solo. But nothing beats group rides for those long weekend rides.
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Old 04-26-07, 11:44 PM
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In some part just to be a devil's advocate...

group rides are the best training for bike racing. You rarely get to choose the length and intensity of your efforts during a race. Training only in prescribed time intervals at prescribed intensities prepares you only for those specific things. Group rides are as unpredicdable and random as races and are therefore the best training. They also have the added benefit of improving your pack riding skills.

And they're hella more fun.
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Old 04-26-07, 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by VosBike
In some part just to be a devil's advocate...

group rides are the best training for bike racing. You rarely get to choose the length and intensity of your efforts during a race. Training only in prescribed time intervals at prescribed intensities prepares you only for those specific things. Group rides are as unpredicdable and random as races and are therefore the best training. They also have the added benefit of improving your pack riding skills.

And they're hella more fun.
Point taken. But there is also a time for long, sustained intervals. Groups rides are rarely the time for those.
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Old 04-27-07, 05:25 AM
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Group Riding Pros: Improves group-riding, drafting, and pack skills. Forces you to push harder than you otherwise might. Improves ability to ride at race-pace. (Which is why pros motor-pace when they can't train with a group).

Group Riding Cons: You do the workout that the group does, regardless of whether it fits into your training plan.

Personally, I ride with my team (15 to 50 riders) on Wednesday nights and on Sat. and Sun. mornings. Tues. and Thurs. I do solo (or sometimes with two or three teammates) interval training.

Both types of rides serve their purpose. But overall, I feel that I benefit more from riding with guys who are better than me.

Bob
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Old 04-27-07, 06:10 AM
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I do 2-3 long (120km+) group rides per month. I don't use group rides as training for anything other than in the pack racing/riding. If I want specificity, I go solo. Our group ride dynamics mean I get a heck of a workout in, or sometimes very little workout but lots of steady pack riding.
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Old 04-27-07, 06:17 AM
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I'll do a few during the month. One things I have done several times (tell me if it sux to do for whatever reason) is to stop for a pee break and ask the group not to soft pedal. I will then make it priority to catch them at all cost. I love it. Oh, and these are on regular group rides, not the A rides.
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Old 04-27-07, 06:41 AM
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Originally Posted by grebletie
Point taken. But there is also a time for long, sustained intervals. Groups rides are rarely the time for those.
Fall off the back, and then try to bridge up to the group solo....that's one hell of a workout I found.
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Old 04-27-07, 07:12 AM
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Originally Posted by stea1thviper
contrary to what alot of ppl on these forums think, you do not need group rides to get better. sure they keep things from getting too boring, which is why ill do them every couple weeks or so, but the best training comes from solo workouts where you can taylor your effort to the exact time and power u need to maximize training benefit.

Plus you can stick to your own drug regiment when you're off training by yourself.
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Old 04-27-07, 07:41 AM
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"Intervals make you strong, motor pacing makes you fast" is the common wisdom. You have to stregnthen your body with intervals but the only way to go fast is, strangely enough, by going fast! You are never going to go at sustained race pace on your own, you need a group or motor pacing to go fast.

Motor pacing actually takes it one step further, it trains you to ride at faster than peleton speed. Sitting in and then moving over and going into the wind behind a moped at faster than race speed is the icing on the cake.
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Old 04-27-07, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by San Rensho
but the only way to go fast is, strangely enough, by going fast!
So you're saying it's better to train downwind than upwind, downhill than uphill because those are the faster directions? Does that mean a trainer has no benefit because ground speed is 0? I think there's a little more to it than you say. There's at least metabolic training, inertial load, and specificity to consider.
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Old 04-27-07, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by San Rensho
"Intervals make you strong, motor pacing makes you fast" is the common wisdom. You have to stregnthen your body with intervals but the only way to go fast is, strangely enough, by going fast! You are never going to go at sustained race pace on your own, you need a group or motor pacing to go fast.

Motor pacing actually takes it one step further, it trains you to ride at faster than peleton speed. Sitting in and then moving over and going into the wind behind a moped at faster than race speed is the icing on the cake.

Nice.
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Old 04-27-07, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by asgelle
So you're saying it's better to train downwind than upwind, downhill than uphill because those are the faster directions? Does that mean a trainer has no benefit because ground speed is 0? I think there's a little more to it than you say. There's at least metabolic training, inertial load, and specificity to consider.

What I am saying is that stregnth and speed are two different things and you have to train for both separately. If you happen to be working on speed that day, then yes, train downhill only. If you are working on strength that day, then uphill only.

But don't listen to me, I'm just recommending what pro's have done for years.
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Old 04-27-07, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by asgelle
So you're saying it's better to train downwind than upwind, downhill than uphill because those are the faster directions? Does that mean a trainer has no benefit because ground speed is 0? I think there's a little more to it than you say. There's at least metabolic training, inertial load, and specificity to consider.
Well actually sometimes it is good to train downwind, slightly downhill. In my program, speed intervals are done downwind. They're short intense efforts and they're intended to be fast, and make you adapt to riding fast, so doing them downwind, slightly downhill helps.


And I think San Rensho was saying you intensity (intervals) and Speed ( race pace, or above in the case of motor pacing).
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Old 04-27-07, 08:54 AM
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My group rides are full of Pro1-2s.

After hanging with them, my races feel more like recovery rides.

It just depends on the group...
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Old 04-27-07, 09:26 AM
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Great discussion. Agree that there are times to train alone but riding with groups is far easier psychologically.

What was an eye opener for me was to analyze power files from my group rides (was doing 2-3/week). On those rides I always felt like I was working key energy systems (1,5,10 min) but when a coach looked at a typical group ride file his comment was "great neuromuscular wkt" (read sprint wkt).

In essence I wasn't doing jack in key areas that needed work (5 min, 20 min). So I went down to 1 group ride per week and put in more structured intervals (5 x 5:00 and 2 x 20:00) and saw my FTP (one hour power) go up.

In some cases I'll do a set of the above intervals and then go do a group ride (hanging on for dear life of course). That's a killer day of training.

gene r
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Old 04-27-07, 09:31 AM
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Also, instead of thinking of the group ride as something you have sit in and win, you can always hammer off the front for a solo interval if you want - no rules.
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Old 04-27-07, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by stea1thviper
contrary to what alot of ppl on these forums think, you do not need group rides to get better. sure they keep things from getting too boring, which is why ill do them every couple weeks or so, but the best training comes from solo workouts where you can taylor your effort to the exact time and power u need to maximize training benefit.
+1 I gained most of my current fitness just doing intensity with a couple friends. I'm doing some group stuff (training races) these days, but I haven't seen any fitness improvement because of it.
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