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Zwift - the advantages of riding with pace partners.

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Zwift - the advantages of riding with pace partners.

Old 11-19-21, 02:07 PM
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MinnMan
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Zwift - the advantages of riding with pace partners.

These days I find that a large fraction of my zwift rides are with the pace partners - mostly the "C" rider Coco (2.5 W/kg nominal)

[I can't stay with Amelia (4.5 W/kg) for extended periods of time, and I've never seen her with a significant group. Dan (1.5 W/kg) has a decent group, but unless I'm really forcing myself to take it super easy, I ride away from them without trying. I can ride with Bowie (3.5 W/kg), but only if I've decided in advance that it's going to be a stiff workout, particularly as those rides end up being more like 3.7-3.8 W/kg for me. So mostly it's Coco]

Apart from structured workouts, I find that riding with the pace partners is more nearly like a group ride than the official Zwift "group rides".

One obvious advantage of the pace partners is that they are always there - there's no hunting through the schedule to find a ride and a time that matches the level I'm seeking on that day. Also, when riding with Coco or Bowie (B, nominal 3.5 W/kg), there's generally a good-sized group - not too small and not the mob one finds in some of the larger organized groups.

Another advantage is that because I tend to ride at about the same time of the day, a bunch of the other riders become familiar. I am normally riding in the later evening (US central time) and many of the riders with Coco at that time are early-risers in Europe. They are chatty and I get to know them. In "organized" group rides, I usually know nobody or one other person, and in the mob, they may as well not be there. So it feels to me more like a real group experience. I suppose that if I joined the same official group ride on a regular basis, that might also develop. But most of those rides feel like riding with strangers, which is like riding alone in some ways.

Also, in the regular group rides, if you're in the mob, all of the group riding dynamics, such as drafting, get pretty ill defined. Yes, the numbers on the screen say I'm going faster for a given power output, but so what? I don't feel like I'm modulating anything. Only if I ride off the front will drafting have any "feel" to it. Not so with the smaller groups around the pace partners,

One thing that is especially true about riding with Coco is that grupettos nucleate off the front, especially on the more hilly routes or associated with sprints. So I can go ride with Coco and stick to about 2.5-2.7 W/kg or I can be more energetic and find (or help make) a group that's going to work at, say, 3 or 3.2 W/kg. Or I can do one for a while and then the other.

Similarly, one can chill with the group and then hammer for the sprint lines and then fall back into the group.

And nobody is yelling a us about "the fence".

Just my $0.02. YMMV
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Old 11-19-21, 06:32 PM
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Thanks for reminding me about the pace partners. I keep meaning to try them as an alternative to event group rides. I agree many group rides are over-subscribed and it's just like riding in an endless swarm.
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Old 11-21-21, 09:09 AM
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One thing I don't like about following pace partners is that if you're a lightweight and are well below the pace partner's designated weight, you're going to be at a disadvantage on the downhill. While I can follow B Brevet on flats but the moment the road starts going downhill they just pull away and I lose them forever. Even with C Cadence I have to put in some effort just to keep up with them downhill.

I don't remember what weight they're assigned to, but it's pretty easy to check by seeing their power output and dividing by the w/kg.

Therefore following C Cadence on Tempus Fugit is my sweet spot; if I see Tick Tock I'm bailing out because there's a good chance I'll get dropped going through the lumpy dinosaur route.
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Old 11-21-21, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by atwl77 View Post
One thing I don't like about following pace partners is that if you're a lightweight and are well below the pace partner's designated weight, you're going to be at a disadvantage on the downhill. While I can follow B Brevet on flats but the moment the road starts going downhill they just pull away and I lose them forever. Even with C Cadence I have to put in some effort just to keep up with them downhill.

I don't remember what weight they're assigned to, but it's pretty easy to check by seeing their power output and dividing by the w/kg.

Therefore following C Cadence on Tempus Fugit is my sweet spot; if I see Tick Tock I'm bailing out because there's a good chance I'll get dropped going through the lumpy dinosaur route.
There's also the fact that they don't coast or softpedal like actual riders do on downhills, so it goes against what you're used to to push as hard on the downhill as the up. Similarly, on slightly, uphill segments I normally increase my power so I don't lose too much speed, and Pace Partners don't, so I have to remember not to. I suppose I could turn Trainer Difficulty down to zero, and just push whatever power I need to keep even, but where's the fun in that?
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Old 11-21-21, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by atwl77 View Post
One thing I don't like about following pace partners is that if you're a lightweight and are well below the pace partner's designated weight, you're going to be at a disadvantage on the downhill. While I can follow B Brevet on flats but the moment the road starts going downhill they just pull away and I lose them forever. Even with C Cadence I have to put in some effort just to keep up with them downhill.

I don't remember what weight they're assigned to, but it's pretty easy to check by seeing their power output and dividing by the w/kg.

Therefore following C Cadence on Tempus Fugit is my sweet spot; if I see Tick Tock I'm bailing out because there's a good chance I'll get dropped going through the lumpy dinosaur route.
Yes, the dynamics of riding with Coco have changed. Last year she was almost always on Tempus Fugit, which is totally flat. Now she's usually on Tick Tock (though I haven't ridden enough this year to know the frequency).

When Coco rides hills, she falls behind of many of her own group on the climbs and catches up on the descents. So if you can get ahead of her going up, it works a little better. This is when the stronger riders who ride ahead of Coco on the climbs tend to stay off the front as their own grupetto, rather than reconnecting. But if one wants, one can drift back to the pace partner.

Coco is popular enough so that I'd expect them to clone her - two Cocos riding different routes. There was one evening when I logged on and in fact there were 8 pace partners riding instead of four, so I think this is something we may see more of in the future.
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Old 11-21-21, 05:18 PM
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Pace Partners are better ride leaders than 90% of the actual ride leaders.

They stick to the target no matter what, they don't get all shouty if somebody flies off the front, and they're riding around pretty much all the time.

Oh and the extra drops are a nice bonus!
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Old 11-21-21, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by tempocyclist View Post
Pace Partners are better ride leaders than 90% of the actual ride leaders.

They stick to the target no matter what, they don't get all shouty if somebody flies off the front, and they're riding around pretty much all the time.

Oh and the extra drops are a nice bonus!
And though they do repeat the same lame phrases of encouragement, they don't spout bad jokes and dull trivia questions.

Some of us are bludgers, though.
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Old 11-22-21, 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by tempocyclist View Post
Pace Partners are better ride leaders than 90% of the actual ride leaders.

They stick to the target no matter what, they don't get all shouty if somebody flies off the front, and they're riding around pretty much all the time.

Oh and the extra drops are a nice bonus!
To be honest I feel sorry for ride leaders. I was doing a recovery group ride the other day and the entire main peloton (100+riders) decided to motor along well above the advertised pace and the ride leader just dropped straight out of the back with literally a handful of riders sticking to the pace. He made 1 comment about slowing down and then left them to it. I don't know why people join these group rides if they have no intention of staying with the leader? If I want a high tempo group ride I join a group with the appropriate advertised pace. If I want an easy recovery spin I do likewise. But I guess people just don't read the group notes before joining or they think it's cool to be driving the pace at the front of an advertised sub 2 W/kg group ride.
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Old 11-22-21, 08:18 AM
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Yeah, I don't get that either. And from the other side, choosing a ride becomes a guessing game - it says 2.5 W/kg, but probably the group is really going to do closer to 3.

Add that to the reasons why I hardly ever do group rides now, unless it's a structured workout.
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Old 11-22-21, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
Yeah, I don't get that either. And from the other side, choosing a ride becomes a guessing game - it says 2.5 W/kg, but probably the group is really going to do closer to 3.

Add that to the reasons why I hardly ever do group rides now, unless it's a structured workout.
Yeah it's rarely the ride leader actually driving the front of the peloton. So the ride leader has to either drop off the back or sit in the mid-pack, which they often do. Then the actual pace is dictated by some random guys at the front.
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Old 11-22-21, 11:02 AM
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Until the "Club Ride" feature comes online, and we see all the details as to how those will be set up, we do meetups. Invite people from the club to ride along. Now, some of those people average 20+ MPH on the road, while others average 13 MPH. So, the meetups are configured as "everyone stays together". Fast riders can give themselves a workout at 4 w/kg, while casual riders pedal at 1 - 1.5 w/kg, and everyone stays together within the meetup ride.

The only group rides I'll do on Zwift are the ones with the fence out front. Go too fast in front of the ride leader, and it's bye-bye, so there is no incentive to sandbag your way into a 2.0 w/kg ride, when you intend to ride at 3.0+ w/kg.
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Old 11-22-21, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Bald Paul View Post

The only group rides I'll do on Zwift are the ones with the fence out front. Go too fast in front of the ride leader, and it's bye-bye, so there is no incentive to sandbag your way into a 2.0 w/kg ride, when you intend to ride at 3.0+ w/kg.
What do you mean by "bye bye"? The riders get kicked out of the game? Unless things have changed or there are rides with stricter rules that I've missed, this hasn't been my experience. Riders go out in front of the fence and keep riding the route with whomever else is also out in front. From what I've seen, plenty of riders seem to have incentives to ride well beyond advertised ride W/Kg.

Then again, I haven't done a group ride in many months, so maybe my experience is stale.
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Old 11-22-21, 11:15 AM
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I'm another one that likes C-bot. It's a good tempo pace for me, and it's easy to find a small group to work with if I want to push a little harder off the front. More often than not, when I'm on Zwift, I'm riding with C-bot.

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Old 11-22-21, 11:24 AM
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most useful when I don't want to think. which should probably be more often.
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Old 11-22-21, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
What do you mean by "bye bye"? The riders get kicked out of the game?
The Fence: Where It Went, When It Will Return, and Why It's Needed - Zwift Insider
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Old 11-22-21, 12:41 PM
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Yeah, but what does "booted from the ride" actually mean in practical terms? Maybe it means you don't get credit for having completed the ride (whatever "credit" is. my legs don't know about "credit")? 'cause I've been over the fence for well over a minute and I just kept on riding the route, together with many others. Does it mean that those on the "good" side of the fence can no longer see me? That hasn't been my experience - I've fallen back from being past the fence and back into the group bunch. Does it depend on how the ride leaders adjust the settings?
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Old 11-22-21, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Bald Paul View Post
Until the "Club Ride" feature comes online, and we see all the details as to how those will be set up, we do meetups. Invite people from the club to ride along. Now, some of those people average 20+ MPH on the road, while others average 13 MPH. So, the meetups are configured as "everyone stays together". Fast riders can give themselves a workout at 4 w/kg, while casual riders pedal at 1 - 1.5 w/kg, and everyone stays together within the meetup ride.

The only group rides I'll do on Zwift are the ones with the fence out front. Go too fast in front of the ride leader, and it's bye-bye, so there is no incentive to sandbag your way into a 2.0 w/kg ride, when you intend to ride at 3.0+ w/kg.

I've done loads of group rides with the fence active and it doesn't appear to do anything other than put a red fence across the road which the front riders totally ignore and none of them disappear from the ride as far as I can tell. I've ventured across the fence myself to test it and nothing happens other than a pop-up message to rejoin the group.

It would be a lot more effective if riders who crossed the fence for more than a few seconds did get kicked out of the event. That's how I thought it would work, but I've never seen it happen
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Old 11-22-21, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
I've done loads of group rides with the fence active and it doesn't appear to do anything other than put a red fence across the road which the front riders totally ignore and none of them disappear from the ride as far as I can tell. I've ventured across the fence myself to test it and nothing happens other than a pop-up message to rejoin the group.

It would be a lot more effective if riders who crossed the fence for more than a few seconds did get kicked out of the event. That's how I thought it would work, but I've never seen it happen
Evidently, and according to the article, there were some issues with the fence, and it has been temporarily disabled.

I know I did breach the fence during a group ride, just to see what would happen. After the time given on the warning elapsed, I was "booted out" of the ride itself, meaning I no longer saw the fence, nor could I send messages to the group. I was still riding on the road, just not 'with them'.
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Old 11-22-21, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Bald Paul View Post
Evidently, and according to the article, there were some issues with the fence, and it has been temporarily disabled.

I know I did breach the fence during a group ride, just to see what would happen. After the time given on the warning elapsed, I was "booted out" of the ride itself, meaning I no longer saw the fence, nor could I send messages to the group. I was still riding on the road, just not 'with them'.
Article is from 20 months ago. The fence was active all through last winter AFAIK.

Interesting that the other group riders (including those on your side of the fence?) disappeared. Again, this hasn't been my experience, which is more like that of PeteHski . There must be different versions of the fence at different times or different rides.
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Old 11-22-21, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
Article is from 20 months ago. The fence was active all through last winter AFAIK.

Interesting that the other group riders (including those on your side of the fence?) disappeared. Again, this hasn't been my experience, which is more like that of PeteHski . There must be different versions of the fence at different times or different rides.
Yeah I've never seen the fence do anything useful in the 2 years I've been on Zwift and I do a lot of different group rides, often with the fence activated.
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Old 11-24-21, 01:13 PM
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I spent about 50 minutes last night riding with Coco. Last year, I'd have been hard-pressed to stay in the group - not because it was too fast for me, but rather because I'd keep overshooting and undershooting - Off the front, then off the back. I spent a bit of time of the last year racing crits on Zwift, and I think the experience of trying to stay NEAR the front, without actually being AT the front paid off. I find it more boring than free riding or structured workouts, but it passes the time and burns the calories.
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Old 11-25-21, 08:19 AM
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Ok, dumb question here but are the pace partners real people or just a BOT? I see them go by but haven't actively followed one. I think I'll give this a try as there doesn't seem to be the usual Zwift Tours as in previous years and these usually are my main motivation for Zwifting.
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Old 11-25-21, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by gthomson View Post
Ok, dumb question here but are the pace partners real people or just a BOT? I see them go by but haven't actively followed one. I think I'll give this a try as there doesn't seem to be the usual Zwift Tours as in previous years and these usually are my main motivation for Zwifting.
They are BOTs, but we come to assign personal traits to them.
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Old 11-25-21, 06:45 PM
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I recently got a smart trainer and it included a 1-month Zwift trial. I was on the fence about paying for the subscription, but then I found the bots and that put me over the edge - it's certainly much more engaging than free riding and I'm not a huge fan of their workouts.

I do tend to ride with Cadence more than Brevet, but I think that I'm going to avoid riding with her on the pan-flat course (Tempus Fugit, maybe?) - it's just easier than I'd like. I do wish there was someone between Cadence and Brevet, though; moving up to Brevet seems like a big jump because of the higher w/kg, the higher absolute power and the more lumpy courses with pay-attention-or-you'll-get-spit-OTB downhills. It's a nice tempo workout, but sometimes just a little more than I'm in the mood for.

Oh, and I'm also in it for the drops multiplier - I'm low level and I need some swag upgrade.
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Old 11-25-21, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
I recently got a smart trainer and it included a 1-month Zwift trial. I was on the fence about paying for the subscription, but then I found the bots and that put me over the edge - it's certainly much more engaging than free riding and I'm not a huge fan of their workouts.

I do tend to ride with Cadence more than Brevet, but I think that I'm going to avoid riding with her on the pan-flat course (Tempus Fugit, maybe?) - it's just easier than I'd like. I do wish there was someone between Cadence and Brevet, though; moving up to Brevet seems like a big jump because of the higher w/kg, the higher absolute power and the more lumpy courses with pay-attention-or-you'll-get-spit-OTB downhills. It's a nice tempo workout, but sometimes just a little more than I'm in the mood for.

Oh, and I'm also in it for the drops multiplier - I'm low level and I need some swag upgrade.
You have to get the timing right, and this takes some luck, but you can find an intermediate workout by riding off the front of Coco. Earlier this week I did an hour that averaged 3 W/kg that way. The first 20 minutes I rode with Coco, so probably 2.6 or 2.7 W/Kg average, but then one one of the sprints a group of us escaped and never looked back. I'd guess we averaged 3.2 or 3.3 W/kg for the following 40 minutes.

Even on Tempus Fugit you can get a good workout if you go with the folks who go for the Reverse Fuego Flats KOM sprint.

The dynamics don't always develop and so it's hard to predict if it will happen, but when it does, you can find the middle ground by riding with Coco and seizing opportunities.

These small groups can be from 3 to 15 people. They can have real good dynamics, trading pulls and so on.

Of course, when you drop the bot, you lose the drops multiplier.
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