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How to accommodate riders who ride at different speeds?

Old 09-04-17, 05:36 PM
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practical
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How to accommodate riders who ride at different speeds?

I organize bike rides for a group of 50-plus riders. There is a wide difference is ability in the group and some people ride at 15-19 mph while others are comfortable going 10-15. To accommodate these differences, I have the group stop frequently for re-groups so that everyone feels like they're part of the ride. But I have been hearing complaints and concerns that the slower riders are feeling too much pressure to go faster and the rides are not as fun. What should I do?
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Old 09-04-17, 05:51 PM
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That's bound to happen when you get that many riders with a wide range of abilities. It is good to have stops so that the slower riders can catch up, but typically the slower you are the less time you have to rest before the group starts out again.

I guess my only suggestion is to organize two different types of rides, one for faster riders and one for slower riders.
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Old 09-04-17, 05:56 PM
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I can see the problem. I stroll when I walk, I ride slow, about 10-16 mph and the 16 is optimistic. I would not break my butt to ride 18 mph, certainly not if I am trying to enjoy myself. But if I have a map, emergency phone number and route is well marked, I don't have a problem riding in a separate group. I'm sure that there will be groups of people that want to ride their pace and hang out.
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Old 09-04-17, 05:56 PM
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Around here, the faster ride rolls out around 30 mins earlier, and typically goes a bit further too.

You're right that for social you really only need two rides though. If people need to ride faster than about 17 mph, it's just not a social ride anymore.

I think one ride averaging 12 and another averaging 16 is a pretty good goal. The folks pulling 11 will be right behind the folks that push to 13 on the slower ride. And the faster folks (that are a bit slower) won't care as much because they're trying to get to that faster speed.

Our slower rides typically have about 1k climbing for every 15-20. And faster maybe 1500 to 2k. Adjust your speeds as necessary.
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Old 09-04-17, 05:58 PM
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Decades back, Dan Henry said in relation to this issue "bicycling is an anti-social sport". I think he meant non-social, rather than anti-social, but the point is spot on.

Well matched riders may ride in a tight peloton, but mixed groups will have each rider ride at his own pace, and that's fine.

Arrange breaks with the understanding that some early birds may leave before slowpokes arrive, but accept that socializing on the ride will be in small groups of matched riders, or friends that opt to stay together. If you want a social aspect, plan on a social event at the end starting early enough and lasting long enough for everyone to partake.

Any other attempt at keeping the group together on the ride will alienate more riders than it pleases.
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Old 09-04-17, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by practical View Post
I organize bike rides for a group of 50-plus riders. There is a wide difference is ability in the group and some people ride at 15-19 mph while others are comfortable going 10-15. To accommodate these differences, I have the group stop frequently for re-groups so that everyone feels like they're part of the ride. But I have been hearing complaints and concerns that the slower riders are feeling too much pressure to go faster and the rides are not as fun. What should I do?
Obviously you need to break it down to various speed categories. Most clubs do this,

AA - Avg. speed 18, cruising typically at 19-20
A - Avg. speed 15-16, cruising at 16-18
B - Avg. speed 14, cruising at 15-17
C - Avg. speed 12-13, cruising at 13-15

Etc... make up whatever speeds you want.

As well be aware that stronger riders *might* be going longer distances, thus you'll want to state a distance for that day's ride. If folks in the C ride want to do 50, let everyone know that's what this Sunday's C ride will be. Maybe do more then one C ride.

Then you'll need ride leaders who can develop a route. Posting a course on Ride With GPS is what a lot of clubs do, thus folks can download a route into their GPS computers and not get lost.
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Old 09-04-17, 06:09 PM
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Oh... the turtles and the hares... The hares ride quickly and take long rest breaks. The turtles arrive at the rest stop just as everyone else is taking off again... and plod on.

I think 50 riders is too big of a group. Big enough to cause problems with traffic. How long are these rides? I'd encourage you to break them up into 2 or 3 groups. You can do the same course, or alternate courses.

With a big group, perhaps you could designate several "leaders". Even do it rather dynamic. So one leader leads the fast crowd, while one hangs back with the slow crowd. And one runs "sweep" to make sure nobody has a flat or other problems.
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Old 09-04-17, 06:46 PM
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Originally Posted by practical View Post
I organize bike rides for a group of 50-plus riders. There is a wide difference is ability in the group and some people ride at 15-19 mph while others are comfortable going 10-15. To accommodate these differences, I have the group stop frequently for re-groups so that everyone feels like they're part of the ride. But I have been hearing complaints and concerns that the slower riders are feeling too much pressure to go faster and the rides are not as fun. What should I do?
Have separate A, B, and C groups which meet for a post-ride meal because stopping to regroup is not fun.

Send the stronger riders on longer rides so there isn't a lot of waiting at the end.
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Old 09-04-17, 07:07 PM
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Break it up into separate rides and find ride leaders for each group.
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Old 09-04-17, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
I think 50 riders is too big of a group. Big enough to cause problems with traffic. How long are these rides? I'd encourage you to break them up into 2 or 3 groups. You can do the same course, or alternate courses.
I took it to mean over 50 in age.
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Old 09-04-17, 07:11 PM
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Don't make it complicated. Make sure folks know the route (use markers if necessary), and let the group string out as it will. If you have some people willing, plant leaders at various places so they're there if needed.
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Old 09-04-17, 07:28 PM
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Originally Posted by dedhed View Post
I took it to mean over 50 in age.
Ahhh... I see how it could be read either way, and perhaps one needs clarification.

Hills are a great separator of people, and might be worth a short wait at the top. If people aren't keeping up on the flats, then the group probably needs to be broken up, but it may depend on the ride. If it is just a casual ride around town, then perhaps it doesn't make a difference to stop or make sure people are getting through intersections.

Also discourage the leaders from forming a draft line and hammering away while the stragglers pull their own wind.
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Old 09-04-17, 08:22 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
Break it up into separate rides and find ride leaders for each group.
+1

/thread
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Old 09-04-17, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
Obviously you need to break it down to various speed categories. Most clubs do this,

AA - Avg. speed 18, cruising typically at 19-20
A - Avg. speed 15-16, cruising at 16-18
B - Avg. speed 14, cruising at 15-17
C - Avg. speed 12-13, cruising at 13-15

Etc... make up whatever speeds you want.

As well be aware that stronger riders *might* be going longer distances, thus you'll want to state a distance for that day's ride. If folks in the C ride want to do 50, let everyone know that's what this Sunday's C ride will be. Maybe do more then one C ride.

Then you'll need ride leaders who can develop a route. Posting a course on Ride With GPS is what a lot of clubs do, thus folks can download a route into their GPS computers and not get lost.
NOW we can lock the thread.
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Old 09-04-17, 08:29 PM
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Split the group into slow, medium, and fast subgroups as noted above.
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Old 09-04-17, 09:45 PM
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Originally Posted by practical View Post
I organize bike rides for a group of 50-plus riders. There is a wide difference is ability in the group and some people ride at 15-19 mph while others are comfortable going 10-15. To accommodate these differences, I have the group stop frequently for re-groups so that everyone feels like they're part of the ride. But I have been hearing complaints and concerns that the slower riders are feeling too much pressure to go faster and the rides are not as fun. What should I do?
1) Make 2 different groups.

2) Make 2 different groups ... start the ride together and stick together for the first 20 km or so, then the faster group will do an out and back in another direction and will, eventually catch up to the slower group toward the end of the ride.

3) Do the ride on a short loop of, say, 8 or 10 km. Each person can ride as many laps as they want, as fast or slow as they want. Base it out of a park or something so people can stop and rest, use the facilities, etc. if they want.
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Old 09-05-17, 12:52 AM
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Originally Posted by doctor j View Post
Split the group into slow, medium, and fast subgroups as noted above.
A local rider here labels them the insane and very fast, the slightly mad and moderately fast, and the mentally balanced and reasonably paced.


But as others have said, best that each group have their own sub-leaders who know the route, and possibly a sweeper at the back also. It's like having separate group rides all heading towards the same destination(s).
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Old 09-05-17, 05:22 AM
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Originally Posted by atwl77 View Post
A local rider here labels them the insane and very fast, the slightly mad and moderately fast, and the mentally balanced and reasonably paced.


But as others have said, best that each group have their own sub-leaders who know the route, and possibly a sweeper at the back also. It's like having separate group rides all heading towards the same destination(s).
To me it sounds like the riders are 50+ in age, and it sounds likely that the OP is the one and only ride leader (available). Basically, there is no solution if there's only one leader available and the group is mixed in ability. All you can do is 'publish' the ride details and stipulate what the speed (average/cruising) will target, only so that there are no complaints that ride didn't meet expectations.
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Old 09-05-17, 05:24 AM
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Ever do a "corners and sweep" ride?

A rider with a distinctive jersey rides "sweep" and follows the last rider. The leader designates a "corner" at every place that it's possible to screw up the route. As the corners see the sweep rider approaching, they don't wait, they hop onto their bike and sprint back to the leader.

Slower riders can ride at their own pace and never get lost. Faster riders serve as "corners" and can sprint as fast as they like to catch back up with the leader between corner assignments.
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Old 09-05-17, 06:29 AM
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Originally Posted by practical View Post
I organize bike rides for a group of 50-plus riders. There is a wide difference is ability in the group and some people ride at 15-19 mph while others are comfortable going 10-15. To accommodate these differences, I have the group stop frequently for re-groups so that everyone feels like they're part of the ride. But I have been hearing complaints and concerns that the slower riders are feeling too much pressure to go faster and the rides are not as fun. What should I do?
The group rides I do, which admittedly are more fun rides than anything serious, have a volunteer or two that stays at the back of the group to herd the slowest along and also volunteers at the front who stay with the fastest group but keep it from going too fast. It naturally usually settles into two groups.
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Old 09-05-17, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by practical View Post
I organize bike rides for a group of 50-plus riders. There is a wide difference is ability in the group and some people ride at 15-19 mph while others are comfortable going 10-15. To accommodate these differences, I have the group stop frequently for re-groups so that everyone feels like they're part of the ride. But I have been hearing complaints and concerns that the slower riders are feeling too much pressure to go faster and the rides are not as fun. What should I do?
Stay with the slower riders and assure them they don't have to push the pace if they don't want to. IMO, a good ride leader stays in the back, and maybe relies on a volunteer to lead the fast group. The question I have is, just how much older than 50 are these groups? Are we talking 55 to 60? Any riders older than 75?

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Old 09-05-17, 06:51 AM
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Since all the serious responses have been given, here's the ****post response: Refer the slow riders to Rule #5 and tell them to HTFU.
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Old 09-05-17, 06:53 AM
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We do a breakfast ride every Saturday with (often) different levels of ability. We organize 2-3 groups: Cruisers, Pacers, Swifties. The Cruisers ride about 10-15 miles to breakfast, the Pacers do 18-25, and the Swifties do 27-35. (Since we have different destinations, the ride length varies week to week). The idea is for everyone to get to the breakfast place at about the same time. It usually works out pretty good. The ride back is usually much shorter (5 miles or less usually) often at a relaxed pace.

The one issue with this is that you need a rider for each subgroup.
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Old 09-05-17, 07:35 AM
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The organized rides spokes person I contacted in Auburn Al stated up front the average speed levels and groups accordingly . The college club guys average 20 + , The intermediate group of less than 10 riders averaged around 16 mph over 25 to 30 miles ,and I was also told that if I did not think I could handle that then there was a beginners group ride I might want to start with . I am 62 and average about 14 miles an hour over 20 to 30 mile rides in moderately hilly typical piedmont . So I feel I am too fast for the kids and cruisers group and maybe not up to the intermediate level (although I could probably do it due to drafting ,etc. ) and definitely could not hang with the racers . So my solution is to just keep lone wolfing it . I think they have a good system though . It seems better than just saying come one come all and having frustration at both ends of the spectrum . Each group class rides on different days of the week with different leaders . Age is not the determining factor for ability in terms of speed and endurance . They seem more interested in developing a team that allows each member to put in his time up front without dropping everybody else or sagging back and slowing the group down to wait .
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Old 09-05-17, 07:49 AM
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One of our local bike clubs breaks large rides into smaller groups, each with a leader. That way everyone is in a "group" ride but can choose his/her own pace. There is always a fast group at a sustained 16+ mph, a middle group in the 15+/- range and a sweep group that paces itself based on the slowest riders. At the mid-point of the ride, there is a rest stop where all the groups come together for snacks and water bottle refills. It's a good arrangement because, as riders become more accomplished, they can ride with the middle or fast groups as long as they can hang on, if they get dropped, the next group is just a few minutes behind them. Nobody is ever left behind but the faster riders don't have to soft pedal or stop to let slower riders catch up. Everyone gets a good workout at his/her own level. Riders often move between groups either during the ride or at rest stops.

There are also "training" rides that are semi-competitive, full-drop rides at sustained 18+ mph but they are advertised as such and riders are aware that they are at risk of riding home alone if they can't keep up. There used to be a beginner's no-drop ride but that was kind of combined with the sweep group of the large group ride.

There is still a family no-drop where you see kids on MTBs and casual riders on hybrids doing about 10 miles with frequent pauses.

One of the worst "club" rides I was ever on was sponsored by another LBS. It was advertised as an everyone invited no-drop, but consisted of a couple of the shop's riders, a couple of college age athletes on higher end road bikes with aero bars, and three of us average Joes. One of the 20-somethings looked at the average Joe's and smirked "OK, nobody goes aero today." No-drop apparently meant the shop riders trying to impress the college girls while pausing on top of hills to check that they could still see the rest of the group in the distance. I'm a 50+ clyde on a mid-level cro-mo road bike. I average 15-16 mph and don't kid myself about being any better. The rest of us had a good time but basically where on our own ride rather than being part of the shop's "no-drop" ride. I don't have a problem getting dropped by faster riders, especially if that is the type of ride I signed up for. My problem was that this was widely advertised as a ride for everyone of all levels.

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