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Group ride competition

Old 06-06-14, 07:03 AM
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Group ride competition

I'm looking for ideas on how to incorporate safe/friendly competition into a group ride. I participate in a large group ride (15-25 riders) on Saturdays, average 22mph over 47 miles. There are 2 places where an informal sprint breaks out - at the halfway point and at the end. The problem is that this has gotten out of hand with sprinters ignoring traffic, riding 3 abreast at times, passing slower riders on both sides, etc etc. Last week 2 sprinters collided and one ended up in the hospital.

I'm looking for ideas on how to satisfy the urge for a little friendly competition, but keep things safe. Thinking of having a "chase group" start AFTER the main group, with the idea that they will work TOGETHER to catch the main group. All the sprinter/racer wannabees can go with the chase group.

Any ideas?
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Old 06-06-14, 07:13 AM
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Chasing and sprinting are two different things. You can't control the big T in cyclists. Guys who want to show their stuff will not be dissuaded. 22 mph for 47 miles is elite enough riding that you are not going to manage folks style. If that is the kind of riding you like to do with such a group, I am afraid you are stuck with the unattractive features.
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Old 06-06-14, 07:28 AM
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we do a little of that on our Friday easy ride... there is a sprint point, informal, of course. What happens is those who want to go, go. Those who don't, just sit back and let the others ride off. Regroup at the next stop sign and continue on to the finish.

Maybe find a regroup point shortly after the mid-ride sprint and the group comes back together? Then those who feel it is getting a bit squirrely can just hang back and don't feel the need to try to hang with the sprint.

I suspect the crash will serve the purpose to remind all on the ride of the dangers we face and will likely temper the rogue sprinters just a bit anyway.
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Old 06-06-14, 07:37 AM
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Start your competition going up a hill. People will separate pretty quickly and will be too whipped to sprint at the finish.
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Old 06-06-14, 07:42 AM
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I'd suggest formalizing the sprint zones, i.e. marking off the roadway with paint-- or maybe a roadside tree-- for the start/finish of each zone. In this way, *you* can select safe stretches of road and reduce things getting too aggro too early, and from staying aggro too late, to the point they happen in risky areas like approaching intersections and poor quality stretches of road.

Another inducement might be to have any rider who might want to contest a sprint bring a cycling related knick-knack to throw in a prize box, from which the winners of the sprints can choose every week. The idea there is that hitting that sprint finish line becomes all the more significant, rather than having the sprinting group start up/shut down at random.

We used to run a group like this when I was riding in a group up in the Lansing area back in the early '90s, and we'd pitch in stuff like tubes, cheap bar tape, unwanted saddles, Powerbars, tour T shirts, and stuff like that; anything, really, and just for fun.
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Old 06-06-14, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv
Start your competition going up a hill. People will separate pretty quickly and will be too whipped to sprint at the finish.
Uphill sprint zone finishes: very good!
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Old 06-06-14, 07:47 AM
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You can pass riders on any side you like. There is no rule about this.

Designate a sprint point and riders should be able to go whenever they see fit. Telling someone they can't jump from 800m out is just silly. Them doing it is another matter.

Pick your sprint points based on the safest location and let people know before hand. Also explain to them WHY.

If riders continue to ride in a reckless fashion sit up and let them ride away. Ride with those left with you. Problem solved.

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Old 06-06-14, 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina

Designate a sprint point and riders should be able to go whenever they see fit. Telling someone they can't jump from 800m out is just silly. Them doing it is another matter.
That's a good point of clarification. Yes, people can go as hard as they want whenever, but we used to set the zone start mark 3/4mi out from the finish, which gave those who didn't want to contest the finish the signal to drop back and get out of the way before things got too hot, which does increase safety.
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Old 06-06-14, 08:24 AM
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Thanks for the replies - good thoughts all. We do have natural starting spots for the sprints. I think the thing to do is ask anyone not sprinting to fall back just prior to those points. Then the sprinters can have at it. I still like the chase-group idea and will see if I can talk a few others into laying back with me, then chasing. That would be fun and still satisfy the testo itch.
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Old 06-06-14, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by mckeithen
The problem is that this has gotten out of hand with sprinters ignoring traffic, riding 3 abreast at times, passing slower riders on both sides, etc etc. Last week 2 sprinters collided and one ended up in the hospital.
Ignoring traffic. This is bad. Remind the group that you're on open roads, and traffic laws have to be obeyed. Pick the sprint points where traffic will be the least concern.

And as BDop said, just let the people that are unsafe in traffic go. When no one chases they'll get the message.

3 abreast. And the problem is? This is normal behavior. If you don't want to be in that mix, don't contest the sprint.

Passing on both sides. Again normal behavior. Most competitive group rides this is totally to be expected, an no one freaks about it.

One ended up in the hospital. Very unfortunate, but a known assumed risk. Again if you don't want to contest the sprint, don't.
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Old 06-06-14, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by chaadster
That's a good point of clarification. Yes, people can go as hard as they want whenever, but we used to set the zone start mark 3/4mi out from the finish, which gave those who didn't want to contest the finish the signal to drop back and get out of the way before things got too hot, which does increase safety.
Seems kind of useless to me to do that. With a known finish, riders are going to gauge their start based of that.

Don't want to contest the sprint? Just don't start ramping up your speed when the fight for position starts and let yourself fall off the back.
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Old 06-06-14, 01:04 PM
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Yep - safety is the issue. Thanks for the suggestions.
Originally Posted by chaadster
That's a good point of clarification. Yes, people can go as hard as they want whenever, but we used to set the zone start mark 3/4mi out from the finish, which gave those who didn't want to contest the finish the signal to drop back and get out of the way before things got too hot, which does increase safety.
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Old 06-06-14, 03:09 PM
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The local club used to have a once-a-month time trial on a convenient 7-mile loop out on the course. Ride out there, do the time trial, ride back.
Great if you can get any interest.
Main problem is if you have the same people participating, you may also have the same people winning all the time.
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Old 06-06-14, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by mckeithen
Thanks for the replies - good thoughts all. We do have natural starting spots for the sprints. I think the thing to do is ask anyone not sprinting to fall back just prior to those points. Then the sprinters can have at it. I still like the chase-group idea and will see if I can talk a few others into laying back with me, then chasing. That would be fun and still satisfy the testo itch.
This doesn't make any sense to me. The sprint zone is however far away someone thinks he can go. If I can catch folks flat footed by launching from 750m, then I'm going to try it. Some are going to wait until the last 50m.
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Old 06-06-14, 03:28 PM
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Maybe if you guys think of it like how they do those 1km markers in the Tour de France or Giro, it makes a little more sense? There's more than one way to skin a cat, that's for sure, but the concept of giving people a distance-to-go indicator shouldn't be that hard to get your mind around, I don't think.

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Old 06-06-14, 03:44 PM
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When the pace begins to get ramped up in the sprint zones many are anticipating the surge and begin to jockey for position. Most are good at holding their line and not doing anything unexpected, but when someone sees a wheel go by and needs to jump to go around someone to get on that wheel, things can go to sht very quickly. Some careless riders don't even bother to see if there's room to make the sudden shift, and this is where problems begin when things get bunched up. The main message should be to hold your line and don't do anything unexpected. If I see the final sprint getting too sketchy, I'm backing off. Let them have it. It's not worth a trip in the ambulance.
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Old 06-06-14, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by mckeithen
Thanks for the replies - good thoughts all. We do have natural starting spots for the sprints. I think the thing to do is ask anyone not sprinting to fall back just prior to those points. Then the sprinters can have at it. I still like the chase-group idea and will see if I can talk a few others into laying back with me, then chasing. That would be fun and still satisfy the testo itch.
Having a chase group will not fix your problems with the sprints, people will naturally still want to sprint at those areas, you'll probably make the problem worse because the chase group will be more gassed letting more people contest the sprint.
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Old 06-07-14, 04:38 AM
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Why not just join a club and participate in club racing?
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Old 06-07-14, 08:22 AM
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Originally Posted by mckeithen
Thanks for the replies - good thoughts all. We do have natural starting spots for the sprints. I think the thing to do is ask anyone not sprinting to fall back just prior to those points. Then the sprinters can have at it. I still like the chase-group idea and will see if I can talk a few others into laying back with me, then chasing. That would be fun and still satisfy the testo itch.
Sprinters have little to no interest in 'chasing'. Chasing is not fun in the sense of a final sprint where 100% of your focus is on hitting the finish line ahead of the guys around you. Chasing is just hard work that might be satisfying if you catch the group in front but don't expect it to mitigate the pavlovian response to a sprint line for some riders.
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Old 06-07-14, 06:21 PM
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Group ride competition

I'd say everyone pair up. Ride like bloody hell. Lead outs, hand slings, jamming tools, anything goes.
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Old 06-07-14, 09:38 PM
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3 abreast prior to the sprint or during the sprint? i dont see a problem with during.
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