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Group Rides with the Big Boys

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Group Rides with the Big Boys

Old 09-10-18, 08:24 AM
  #1  
TimothyH
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Group Rides with the Big Boys

This is a thread about athletic performance. It is understood that not everyone is interested in this topic so keep in mind that participation here is optional. For those who are interested however...

I think it important to do group rides once in a while, if only to measure oneself. I'm talking about the big boy's ride, guys who are a little above your ability, the ride that scares you a little.

Saturday I did such a ride. Performance was respectable; I finished with the group, took some pulls and wasn't the last one up the hills. But it taught me a lot, or at least reminded me of things I had forgotten.

For example, on a 2 mile climb with two strong riders off the front, one rider held back. About half way up, when the main group started to fade, when people started shifting to the smallest sprocket and a few stood to climb, the rider who held back did the exact opposite. He shifted to a harder gear, passed the main group and bridged to the front guys. The move was beautiful in execution and yet crushingly demoralizing. Thinking about it Sunday I was reminded of what I already knew - stay calm, don't overreact at the bottom of a climb and save most of the effort for the top.

This is just an example.

Back in the day, before GPS, we used to go out with groups on routes we didn't know. That gave us two options; 1) keep up or, 2) be lost in the middle of nowhere and limp home. We tried keep up no matter how much it hurt.

Not sure what my point is. Maybe I just felt like saying this. Maybe I should resolve to do a group ride at least once per month. Maybe others will recount how they learned or became stronger/faster through riding with the faster groups. Whatever. There it is.


-Tim-

Last edited by TimothyH; 09-10-18 at 08:38 AM.
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Old 09-10-18, 08:25 AM
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Agree, you can gain more by riding with a faster group than with a slower group.
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Old 09-10-18, 08:32 AM
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"The Big Boys"? I thought this was a Clydesdale thread at first glance.

Group rides are not always convenient or particularly fun, but there's no substitute for them. You can only get so good on your own, or so it seems.

I have not done any for several years, and my group riding skills, which have never been great, have I'm certain deteriorated from tens of thousands of solo miles. Which is always good for a few comments from other riders. And makes me want to avoid group rides even more.
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Old 09-10-18, 08:47 AM
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Yeah, nah. I don't want the scheduling, the politics, the "group ride etiquette," the repeated-weekly route that shows that some people just never venture outside of their comfort zones. I'll sometimes see a group crossing perpendicular to me at an intersection, and look them up on Fly-Bys. They'll invariably have done the same circuit three or four or five times in the past 4 weeks.

Add to that the fact that the real fast group is Alpha Male City, and the typical club rides average 12-13mph. I just don't fit into either group.
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Old 09-10-18, 09:07 AM
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If you can finish with the group,

those are the medium boys.


If they were really the big boys, & you finished with them,

they would just be the boys...


I have a group like that that I attempt to keep up with. Beyond them, 'tho,

is another group that is fully 3 mph faster. I won't be getting there.

Last edited by woodcraft; 09-10-18 at 09:15 AM.
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Old 09-10-18, 09:04 PM
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I'm one of those "Everything I've learned about cycling I learned from group rides." Not necessarily on group rides, but also from training so I could try to keep up on them. That's a big reason I still do group rides, just the same as some racers: I do it so I have to train so I can do it. The other big reason is that all these folks are now my good friends.

I got around the problem issues with group rides by happening upon a private club-like ride where the maybe 30 people who come out somewhat regularly are all friends and predictable riders. We have try-outs to bring in new blood as members age out.

The first thing I learned was that if one is TTing a route, one is faster taking the hills as hard as possible and greatly reducing effort on the flat. From doing that, I learned that one has to be in really good form to make that possible, and have one's nutrition and hydration nailed. From trying to do those things, I learned to train and to eat and drink. The first double metric I rode with them, in my second year of restarting cycling, my legs cramped so bad at the lunch stop that I had to slide down out of my chair under the table and just roll around down there with everyone's feet.

On the rides themselves, I learned where to position my bike, how to move up and down the group, how to most easily keep a paceline steady, even how to do rolling pacelines.

And learned really well how to get back to the cars alone after going off the back either exhausted or bonked or both.

Oh, and not just boys. Girls, too. I was in a paceline once with a new guy what asked me who the heck was up there pulling, as we were doing 26. It was just one of our female regulars.
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Old 09-10-18, 09:15 PM
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Best way to get fast, if you can find a qualified person, is motor pacing. If the person on the motor is good, he/she will keep you at the limit of what you possibly can do.
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Old 09-11-18, 04:22 AM
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I never ride alone, I'm always the slowest, I try to keep up and I'm getting faster but the guys I ride with just get faster still. but I always get a workout and always have fun. I love group rides and would n't have it any other way. groups have laughter and sweat but I learn and I push myself even when I get dropped. my group always waits for me to catch back up.
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Old 09-11-18, 05:06 AM
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Originally Posted by colnago62 View Post
Best way to get fast, if you can find a qualified person, is motor pacing. If the person on the motor is good, he/she will keep you at the limit of what you possibly can do.


Probably a very bad idea. If you're not fast enough to hang with the fastest group, you most likely don't have the skills necessary to motor pace. Put a person that can barely ride 20 mph 6 inches off a wheel at 30+ mph and bad things can occur.
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Old 09-11-18, 05:08 AM
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Originally Posted by rob214 View Post
I push myself even when I get dropped. my group always waits for me to catch back up.
That's how every group I ever went on my first few years operated. Even the group ride with all the 1s and pros. There'd be regrouping points throughout, so once you're dropped you keep pushing and catch back up.

It's weird, now, to see a couple of groups (not that many, but still a couple) that have no regrouping spots and you're on your own as soon as you're dropped.

Dumb and misses the point of a group ride.
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Old 09-11-18, 06:15 AM
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^ Some people are just antisocial and/or inept and just hate everyone. As long as they aren't fermenting bottles of explosive rage, the world is better off for everyone when they just keep to themselves.
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Old 09-11-18, 06:58 AM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
That's how every group I ever went on my first few years operated. Even the group ride with all the 1s and pros. There'd be regrouping points throughout, so once you're dropped you keep pushing and catch back up.

It's weird, now, to see a couple of groups (not that many, but still a couple) that have no regrouping spots and you're on your own as soon as you're dropped.

Dumb and misses the point of a group ride.
Not necessarily dumb - just depends on the type of group ride, e.g. club ride, open ride, hang-or-drop, no-drop, etc. There are a few large, open, hang-or-drop rides in Atlanta that I do occassionaly - (Tucker, Northlake, Pizza). These are 24++ rides with no regroup points. But, that's the sort of the point. They're not supposed to be easy. They are closer to a race format - no regroup points, no stops for mechanicals, no stops for crashes - unless it's really bad (and close enough to the front to be noticed). But, our club rides are the exact opposite - regroup points, all-stop for mechanicals, crashes, etc.

Group rides come in many flavors.
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Old 09-11-18, 07:03 AM
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Do you get yelled at on the Big Boy's ride?
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Old 09-11-18, 07:07 AM
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Big Boys ride..lol.

Here we just rate the rides A, B..etc. The A rides are very fast and aggressive. Everyone is actually really cool, they are just in great shape and train a lot. I have done it a few times and enjoyed myself.

No need to overthink it, but I understand some people are newer to riding and are still mesmerized by these things.
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Old 09-11-18, 07:24 AM
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I don't go on rides where someone doesn't stop for mechanicals or crashes.

People are free to do whatever they want and riding in the city might be different from a rural setting. No drop is fine when someone can soft pedal back to the start but I draw the line at leaving someone lying on the road hurt or standing on the street corner with a broken bike and no way to get back.

Treat others as you would have them treat you and love your neighbor as yourself wasn't qualified with "unless you are training for a race." For me this is a fundamental issue of how humans are supposed to treat each other.

Abbey D'Agostino, the woman who stopped to help a fellow runner in the Olympics, exemplifies this.


-Tim-
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Old 09-11-18, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post


Probably a very bad idea. If you're not fast enough to hang with the fastest group, you most likely don't have the skills necessary to motor pace. Put a person that can barely ride 20 mph 6 inches off a wheel at 30+ mph and bad things can occur.
I am thinking on the velodrome. At JBV, they have a motor pacing program where riders learn to develop the skills needed to be safe. You definitely need to be able to control your bike.
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Old 09-11-18, 07:48 AM
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I ride with a lot of retired military folk...we are all fat, so yeah, I ride with the big boys. We yell a lot, because we are old and DGAF, there's tinitus too...
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Old 09-11-18, 07:51 AM
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I have confidence in my abilities(whatever they may be)so don’t need validation from, or by, riding with strangers. Group riding in general is not that difficult.
I guess I am old fashioned because if I wanted to test myself by riding with the ‘big boys’ I would enter a race and do it for real.
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Old 09-11-18, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by downhillmaster View Post
I have confidence in my abilities(whatever they may be)so don’t need validation from, or by, riding with strangers. Group riding in general is not that difficult.
I guess I am old fashioned because if I wanted to test myself by riding with the ‘big boys’ I would enter a race and do it for real.
It's really not that big of a deal. I don't think most riders doing the fast group riders are seeking validation from strangers. Races are expensive, time-consuming, not every Saturday, etc. The Saturday am rides are just a simple routine and a guaranteed great workout.
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Old 09-11-18, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
That's how every group I ever went on my first few years operated. Even the group ride with all the 1s and pros. There'd be regrouping points throughout, so once you're dropped you keep pushing and catch back up.

It's weird, now, to see a couple of groups (not that many, but still a couple) that have no regrouping spots and you're on your own as soon as you're dropped.

Dumb and misses the point of a group ride.
A+ ride here has no regroups but it’s basically a loop in the city, so getting dropped is no big deal. It’s also a very aggressive ride in terms of guys passing each other and things of that nature. All that being said, the riders are excellent and nice dudes. It’s just a no-nonsense, speed is king type of thing. If you are into that, it’s a lot of fun. For being so demanding, it is a rather popular ride and usually has at least 30-55 people.
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Old 09-11-18, 08:34 AM
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Group rides are not the same as riding with strangers. I love group rides. I hate riding in a paceline with strangers. I won't do that anymore. So I ride in group rides with people I know. My team has training rides most Saturdays and Sundays. There is free beer at the end. Sometimes I ride with the A group, sometimes with the B. I used to be one of the fastest riders in the A group, but that was only when the A group was particularly slow.
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Old 09-11-18, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by downhillmaster View Post
I have confidence in my abilities(whatever they may be)so don’t need validation from, or by, riding with strangers. Group riding in general is not that difficult.
I guess I am old fashioned because if I wanted to test myself by riding with the ‘big boys’ I would enter a race and do it for real.
Group rides aren't a chance to seek validation from strangers, not sure where you're getting the idea that this is a primary motivator for group ride participants. For me, it's primarily about socializing and getting a better workout than I would on a normal solo ride. It's also a chance to test my fitness against much faster riders to gauge whether my solo training has helped me at all, because the people I typically ride with on a weekend group ride are the same people I'd be racing against in a local crit. They're also (mostly) all friends, so it's a win/win.

That said, my work schedule and weekend plans have gotten in the way of group riding and I haven't done very many at all this year, which makes me a bit sad and has definitely hurt my fitness.
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Old 09-11-18, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Zaskar View Post
It's really not that big of a deal. I don't think most riders doing the fast group riders are seeking validation from strangers. Races are expensive, time-consuming, not every Saturday, etc. The Saturday am rides are just a simple routine and a guaranteed great workout.
Sorry, I guess I read it differently. The first sentence in the OP stated ‘this is a thread about athletic performance’
Also went on to reference measuring one’s self.
Sounds like competition and to me the truest form of competition is racing.
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Old 09-11-18, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by colnago62 View Post
I am thinking on the velodrome. At JBV, they have a motor pacing program where riders learn to develop the skills needed to be safe. You definitely need to be able to control your bike
Originally Posted by colnago62 View Post
Best way to get fast, if you can find a qualified person, is motor pacing. If the person on the motor is good, he/she will keep you at the limit of what you possibly can do.
Spoken like a true trackie. However, road group rides with the right mix of riders are a great workout and fun.

I have done motor pacing on the indoor and outdoor track as well as on the road. My first coach was old school former Soviet Union National team who believed that one had to motor pace a couple of days before a race and he would motor pace me on my road bike on the road on a TT course 20 miles

When I was a track supervisor / instructor, we taught riders how to MP which meant bringing a qualified motor to the track and letting new riders go at a slower pace to get the feel of riding on the motor and doing motor exchanges. Riders pick up this technique very quickly and have a great time.

Riding behind the motor is good but IMO, drills are more effective which means riding with the motor when the rider is pushing the wind or doing execution drills.

Here is my wife at San Diego Velodrome doing a team pursuit drill. I think this was about 28 to 30 mph.


This is me at Velo Sports Center last year doing the same drill with 500 meter solo efforts 30 to 32 mph.


This is a chase the motor drill. The rider is a woman. I have done this drill many times. No matter how hard I pedal, the motor is always just ahead. It produces peak wattages / effort over the number of efforts done in a session. Definitely a big dog drill.


Rogers Session motor game at Velo Sports Center in Carson. This 40 lap motor burnout game comes after two 24 minute interval session. I would call it a big dog structured group ride. The guys off the back are practicing Madison exchanges. I sat out the motor game but my wife wanted to do it. She is on the motor when the video starts. She was with the last four riders and pulls off with two to go. I asked her why she pulled off and she thought there were more laps remaining. She could have stayed to the end. She makes this look easy but it is hard.


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Old 09-11-18, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by downhillmaster View Post
I have confidence in my abilities(whatever they may be)so don’t need validation from, or by, riding with strangers. Group riding in general is not that difficult.
I guess I am old fashioned because if I wanted to test myself by riding with the ‘big boys’ I would enter a race and do it for real.
Huh. The group rides I do are mostly filled with guys who race. That's what makes those rides so hard and so beneficial to my fitness.
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