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Group Ride Etiquette?

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Group Ride Etiquette?

Old 12-28-17, 01:11 AM
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Cykilist2
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Group Ride Etiquette?

I'm curious... I don't ride in many of them... Either, they're too slow or too fast, so I do mostly solo efforts.

I like to have good efforts in every ride that I do. Just pedaling at a leisurely pace doesn't do a lot for me as I want some true exercise, whenever I get on the saddle.

I did show up for an LBS group ride today.. Intermediate/Advanced. It didn't take long for the pace to reach 20+ I kept with them for about 5 miles, before their peloton took off, leaving me in the dust. I was a bit perturbed. After that take off, I didn't really give up.... I kept my pace of 22 or so (on the flats... put the HR up there, that's for sure, because I'm not used to that kind of pace), but their pace was even faster than that. I thought to myself, "if I try to hang with this crazy pace, I'll blow up very fast", so I let it go. As I let it go, I just decided to make it a solo ride, deciding not to trace their route, or wait at their regroups, as I blew by one of their "regroups".


I did notice a few things, riding with riders that are completely out of my league:
1) I rode faster, though, I couldn't keep that pace. I stopped chasing after a while.
2) My cadence ticked up... so did my heart rate
3) Had a bunch of PR's on that route, even though, I was doing much of it solo.
4) I need to work on my speed... It's lacking. I love hill climbing, but my "flat work" has a lot to be desired.

I'm sure that I would've been even faster if I would've been able to get access to some of that draft....

I read a few posts elsewhere that said, "go back and keep riding with them". That seemed to be the general consensus, though, during the ride, I thought, "why bother, I may as well ride solo, since that's what I'm doing anyway"

What has been your experience with group rides, and what goes through your mind if you're dropped, or see someone else get dropped? How do you pace yourself if you start to see the rear wheel of the peloton/paceline, gap longer and longer from you as the ride goes on?

Appreciate all feedback.

Last edited by Cykilist2; 12-28-17 at 02:07 AM. Reason: clearer explanation
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Old 12-28-17, 01:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Cykilist2 View Post
I thought to myself, "if I try to hang with this crazy pace, I'll blow up very fast", so I let it go.
Part of the experience of spirited group riding is surviving the surges. I mean, if...

How do you pace yourself if you start to see the rear wheel of the peloton/paceline, gap longer and longer as the ride goes on?
...you're strong enough that the gap opens slowly as you ride solo, then you're plenty strong enough that you'd be able to hang with their usual pace when drafting. Unless I'm interpreting you wrong.

What has been your experience with group rides, and what goes through your mind if you're dropped, or see someone else get dropped?
On a ride with regroups, there's nothing special about being dropped. You catch your breath and give it another go.

Or, more importantly, what do I do in the moment? It depends. Sometimes I hop into the next paceline back. Sometimes I try to hold that paceline off. If there's nobody farther back, then getting dropped is a great opportunity to get some solo time trialing in.
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Old 12-28-17, 04:10 AM
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So whether or not you go back and ride with them depends on what your goals are. If you have a goal to get faster, I would suggest that you do go back and ride with them. It's easier to get faster if you have fast guys and gals to chase sometimes, instead of always trying to do that on your own. If you really don't have a goal of getting faster, then maybe you should just keep riding on your own cuz it sounds like you are not too jazzed about group rides.
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Old 12-28-17, 05:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Cykilist2 View Post
what goes through your mind if you're dropped, or see someone else get dropped?
Those are two very different scenarios.

My response to either also depends on my "relationship" to the ride: Am I the leader? Am I one of the regulars, intimately familiar with the leader(s)? Have I ever met any of these people before in my life?

If I'm riding with friends or semi-familiar associates, I tend to be far more altruistic than if I'm riding with strangers. I will usually show an apparently all-too-rare blend of mercy and common sense to help a struggling rider or someone who's having a bad enough day that they're getting shelled when they shouldn't be. I tend to prefer group rides that emphasize cooperation over competition, so if I, through my riding, can offset some of the unnecessary surging and inconsistencies, I will do so, because I know that will help everyone in the group regardless of whether they're getting dropped, or just might be eventually.

If it's me who's getting dropped, I'll suck wheels like a remora until it's clear I'm having a bad day or totally out of my league, and then I'll let them go, chalk it up to experience, and give it another shot after the re-group...or after a week's rest/recovery.
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Old 12-28-17, 06:14 AM
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This is why group rides should all be based on power or FTP, and maybe FTP per KG. This will even out the playing field and get people in groups that are more like themselves. The problem is the average rider does not know their FTP, nor has the equipment to measure it. This is why I like riding in groups in Zwift, there are 4 categories of power to join. I've tried to level up and couldn't keep up. When you do that on an outdoor ride you end up getting dropped. If you have a bunch of A riders and you are a C, what do you think will happen? The A riders are all trying to outdo each other and ride near their threshold, and you the C rider can keep up for a while above your threshold and then run out of gas.

And this is why I ride solo outside. A hard ride for me is an easy ride for the hammerheads. So why bother? You'll get much more from a structured workout tailored to your abilities than trying to keep up with somebody above and then blowing up. That doesn't mean you don't ride hard, you ride a sustainable hard. You add in recovery. Kind of what you do when you solo since you can recover without losing any group. My power meter pedals are on the way, so now I'll know exactly what I'm putting out and adjust accordingly.
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Old 12-28-17, 06:28 AM
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Go back and keep riding with them.
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Old 12-28-17, 06:44 AM
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Originally Posted by zacster View Post

And this is why I ride solo outside. A hard ride for me is an easy ride for the hammerheads. So why bother? You'll get much more from a structured workout tailored to your abilities than trying to keep up with somebody above and then blowing up. That doesn't mean you don't ride hard, you ride a sustainable hard. You add in recovery. Kind of what you do when you solo since you can recover without losing any group. My power meter pedals are on the way, so now I'll know exactly what I'm putting out and adjust accordingly.

Completely disagree with the highlighted bit. In theory, your comment may be accurate, but in practice the crazy hard group ride does the most for me. Maybe I'm just mentally weak when riding solo or ultra competitive in a group, but riding in the fastest group in town certainly has made me a better rider - much more so than individual structured workouts ever did.


On our local fast rides, almost all of the current folks (myself included) who ride with us now got dropped the first several times they came out. They just kept coming out and hanging on longer and longer. I've never seen someone get dropped, hit the trainer or structured solo rides & come back in two months and hang on - I've only seen a couple try this approach.


I think the surges in a hard/competitive group ride are just really, really hard to train for without actually experiencing it over and over again.


From a common sense perspective: If you want to be able to hang on in fast group rides - do fast group rides. If you want to put out really high watts for a specific duration do intervals. I know this completely over-simplifies things, but the general thought makes sense to me.
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Old 12-28-17, 06:47 AM
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Find a big no-drop group if you can. They generally split into multiple groups with different speeds. If you get dropped by the one group, the next slower group will be along soon and you can try to hang with them.

I know my limits. I won't kill myself trying to hang with a group that's too fast for me. If I don't have enough power to pull the group I find a slower group.
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Old 12-28-17, 06:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Cykilist2 View Post
I'm sure that I would've been even faster if I would've been able to get access to some of that draft....

I read a few posts elsewhere that said, "go back and keep riding with them". That seemed to be the general consensus, though, during the ride, I thought, "why bother, I may as well ride solo, since that's what I'm doing anyway"
It’s good advice. My guess is you just need to get more comfortable riding in a group. Newer riders tend to use a lot more energy than necessary because they spend too much time in the wind letting gaps open between themselves and the rider in front. Seasoned riders aren’t always stronger but the usually know how to ride smarter to minimize their energy output. Knowing when to go hard is important. It takes a few rides with the group to find the rhythm and learn where the hard and easy parts are.

During a ride like you were on you should never be without a rider 12-24” in front of your wheel. On a fast ride, as you’ve found, once a gap opens you’re done and won’t catch up. If that happens just ride as you would on a normal solo ride and try again next time. After a few sessions you’ll be able to hang on for the whole ride. Even the failed rides are good for building fitness.
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Old 12-28-17, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Cykilist2 View Post
As I let it go, I just decided to make it a solo ride, deciding not to trace their route, or wait at their regroups, as I blew by one of their "regroups".

I did notice a few things...
Add to your list, that even in the situation you were in, a solo rider will often finish before a group ride over the same course, even when moving a slightly slower average mph. Regroups after hills, and separation due to traffic lights, snack/bathroom breaks, etc. So take heart that your overall average mph (total elapsed time) may have been better than the group that originally left you.
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Old 12-28-17, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by RShantz View Post
Completely disagree with the highlighted bit. In theory, your comment may be accurate, but in practice the crazy hard group ride does the most for me. Maybe I'm just mentally weak when riding solo or ultra competitive in a group, but riding in the fastest group in town certainly has made me a better rider - much more so than individual structured workouts ever did.


On our local fast rides, almost all of the current folks (myself included) who ride with us now got dropped the first several times they came out. They just kept coming out and hanging on longer and longer. I've never seen someone get dropped, hit the trainer or structured solo rides & come back in two months and hang on - I've only seen a couple try this approach.


I think the surges in a hard/competitive group ride are just really, really hard to train for without actually experiencing it over and over again.


From a common sense perspective: If you want to be able to hang on in fast group rides - do fast group rides. If you want to put out really high watts for a specific duration do intervals. I know this completely over-simplifies things, but the general thought makes sense to me.
For an hour long training ride, I'd agree that keeping with a faster group could be a good plan, but for longer rides I myself don't want to be dragging the last 2 hours of a 3 hour ride. And maybe that hour long ride is really still within or just beyond your threshold, but pushing it as a good training ride would. You don't really know without a power meter. And with a power meter you can train to power, not speed. Power is a much better measure since it is absolute without variables like wind, grade, how big the dude in front of you is, etc... I had an ex-NFLer friend that I rode with and riding behind him was like riding in a wind tunnel.

I'm 62 and doubt I could keep up with the young crowd anymore, so maybe that's part of my perspective. I've tried riding with people my age, but that was no fun at all, just a bunch of old farts complaining about their meds.
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Old 12-28-17, 11:30 AM
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For my physical well being, I play basketball and ice hockey as well as ride my bike. When it comes to team sports, given my abilities when it comes to team sports (I'll hide behind age), I need to find a group where there are a few people near my ability. To run/skate with athletes well above my caliber is not fun for me. (I recognize team sports are different but in my mind the comparison is not unfair).

In the several places I have lived in the States, I have found most of the bike groups (clubs) are made up of athletes above my caliber. And the likelihood of building my abilities to stay with them is slim. So, what I have done successfully is started my own group. That has been terrific because our interests were bike riding and in most cases, bike advocacy. Not just physical fitness by bike. Perhaps that is an approach to consider.
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Old 12-28-17, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by rshantz View Post
completely disagree with the highlighted bit. In theory, your comment may be accurate, but in practice the crazy hard group ride does the most for me. Maybe i'm just mentally weak when riding solo or ultra competitive in a group, but riding in the fastest group in town certainly has made me a better rider - much more so than individual structured workouts ever did.


On our local fast rides, almost all of the current folks (myself included) who ride with us now got dropped the first several times they came out. They just kept coming out and hanging on longer and longer. I've never seen someone get dropped, hit the trainer or structured solo rides & come back in two months and hang on - i've only seen a couple try this approach.


I think the surges in a hard/competitive group ride are just really, really hard to train for without actually experiencing it over and over again.


From a common sense perspective: If you want to be able to hang on in fast group rides - do fast group rides. If you want to put out really high watts for a specific duration do intervals. I know this completely over-simplifies things, but the general thought makes sense to me.


+1
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Old 12-28-17, 12:27 PM
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I'd keep going back if I were you.

If they're riding hard, if you get gapped you probably have no more than 20 or 30 seconds tops to close the gap or you're done. It'll often burn a match or two closing that gap, but if you can do it then you may be able to hang on. I know with a very fast group it's the climbs and the stoplights that kill me. On climbs the watt/kg ratio will kill me no matter what I do, and on stoplights it's the jackrabbit starts. When they accelerate like mad when the light turns green I always get gapped, and then it takes a match or two to close it, then I'm good. If we run into too many stoplights eventually my matchbook runs dry, and at some point I may just have to let them go the next time the light turns green.

Unless you're exceedingly disciplined in including various high-heartrate sprints and other things while riding solo, it will be difficult for you to match the training result of doing whatever it takes to ride and hang with a fast group.
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Old 12-28-17, 12:40 PM
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Keep going back. Group rides push you more than you will ever push yourself. Additionally, it takes some time to learn the rides. For example, there are going to be parts where everyone sprints, you won't know them the first 2-3 times. You may not even know the route very well yet. That makes a big difference in rhythm. I got dropped the first time I did a group ride, but by the 3rd time, I was good to go, and now I am one of the stronger riders.

The easy thing to do would be to stop going. So don't do that.
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Old 12-28-17, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by zacster View Post
And this is why I ride solo outside.... You'll get much more from a structured workout tailored to your abilities than trying to keep up with somebody above and then blowing up. That doesn't mean you don't ride hard, you ride a sustainable hard. You add in recovery. Kind of what you do when you solo since you can recover without losing any group. My power meter pedals are on the way, so now I'll know exactly what I'm putting out and adjust accordingly.
If the goal is to improve performance, then this is 100 percent true. You will get more from following a set training plan, which often necessitates riding alone. Group rides do not make for ideal training conditions.


Originally Posted by RShantz View Post
From a common sense perspective: If you want to be able to hang on in fast group rides - do fast group rides.
There is truth to this as well. You have to learn how to ride in a group to gain the benefit of the group. But a structured training plan can make one faster, faster.
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Old 12-28-17, 01:06 PM
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Just yell at everyone. I can guarantee ... They Will Yell at You.

They admit it themsleves.

We're going to yell at you.
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Old 12-28-17, 01:50 PM
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Without a doubt, the hardest part of riding in a fast group is hanging on at the back of the pack right after taking a pull. It can be even worse if the guys at the front up the pace right after you pull off.
When I'm over my head like that:
- I take very short pulls at the front (like 5 or 10 seconds)
- I prepare for the pain when I latch on the back, if I can survive the first minute or so, I can usually recover enough to take another 5 second pull when I get to the front.

If they stop to regroup, then I never worry about keeping up with the climbers on the hills.
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Old 12-28-17, 04:09 PM
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I'm another "keep at it" advocate. As you noticed, you rode faster when pressed. Many riders have no idea what they're capable of. I do both things: ride with faster folks and do a structured program. They're not mutually exclusive. A good way to judge the effectiveness of your training is to see if you get better on the group rides. See what your weaknesses are and work on them solo. Try different things solo and see what makes a difference and what not so much. Use a HRM or PM and a premium account with TrainingPeaks or similar to track your training load and get a handle on what too much looks like. When over 50, I limited myself to no more than 1 hour of zone 4 and 20 minutes zone 5 per week. I don't know if that's typical for youngers.

I got the biggest bang on group rides from killing myself on the climbs and sitting in on the flats. Also weight training really helped. If I got dropped, I always finished the route, and I got dropped a lot.

After a few years of that, I became one of leaders/instigators. Progress happens. Never give up.

BTW, a fast bike definitely makes a difference.
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Old 12-28-17, 04:31 PM
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exercising like a madman for fifty years doesn't hurt ...
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Old 12-28-17, 06:20 PM
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I am not a group ride and person. I like to go when I can at the time I love like and what works. If a group is out at that time fine but if I want to go hard and fast nothing can get in the way because it is my ride. Also a wheel 12 to 24 inches in
Front of me can be stressful. I guess you get the picture.
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Old 12-28-17, 07:03 PM
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What is the"group ride etiquitte" question?
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Old 12-28-17, 07:28 PM
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Riding faster does not make you a better rider. I stopped riding with local club and now I could probably not keep up with very many of them. But they are loosy goosy riders with poor skills. I rode 9300 miles this year, maybe 500 were group miles and those 500 certainly were NOT with the local club.
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Old 12-28-17, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by zacster View Post
This is why group rides should all be based on power or FTP, and maybe FTP per KG. This will even out the playing field and get people in groups that are more like themselves. The problem is the average rider does not know their FTP, nor has the equipment to measure it.
You've just described why this is unrealistic. I have no power or even HR monitor. I have no idea what my power numbers are. But I enjoy group rides a lot. Sometimes I try compete for the front on flat sections or climbs, much of the time I am simply trying to not get dropped by the A group, sometimes I hang back with the b group. It's all good, and great fun. I would even say its the most enjoyable time I ride my bike...although I tried cyclocross this fall, and that might be up there too.
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Old 12-28-17, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Cykilist2 View Post
How do you pace yourself if you start to see the rear wheel of the peloton/paceline, gap longer and longer from you as the ride goes on?
You don't pace yourself. You stand up and sprint for all you're worth until you're back in that draft.

Lose the draft and your day can very well be done. That's the name of the game in everything from your Sun coffee shop ride to your national level crit championship.
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