I’ve just recently joined the Swift community and today I was very excited to participate in my first group ride, the Aussie Richmond Ride (ARR) organised by Jill.
Many kudos to Jill for setting up what on paper was supposed to be a well designed ride with clear rules (2-2.5 w/Kg on flat and 3-3.5 w/Kg uphill for 2.5 laps then total freedom to go flat out to the finish line). It was clearly stated it was not a race but a social event to get to ride together and possibly to get to know each other.
As usual, despite clear rules, there were riders with the ARR tag beside their names pushing hard since the start and that’s common (unfortunately) but I don’t think it represents the real problem. What in my opinion ruined the group ride experience was the reaction of the others trying madly to catch up and remain close to the front despite travelling at an average of 4-5 w/Kg (I know because I was one of them for the first 10 Km then I decided to stick to the rules we all agreed waiting to regroup but it never happened). The fast pace of course caused a lot of breakaways turning what was initially a beautiful group of 40-50 riders into small groups and solo riders so here are my thoughts:
Swift offers total freedom to ride like you want so if you want to push hard why to join a group ride that has been set with clear rules conceived to make it a social event rather than a race? After all the last few kilometres were left free for anyone to push as much as they can
I definitely appreciated all the attempts done via text messaging by Jill and other riders to slow down the pace and regroup but maybe it would have been more effective if the group leader instead of messaging from the breakaway would have acted as the “example to follow” sticking with the pace we agreed. In this case maybe more riders would have chosen to slow down and ride along with Jill making the breakaway a minority or riders rather than the bulk of the ARR peloton
Lastly I’m curious to hear your thoughts/suggestions regarding how to prevent this to happen again in the future because people could be put off from joining a group ride if not following the rules becomes the norm.
The way I see it is that choosing to participate in a group ride in a way makes you part of the same team, you can do sprints and show off your fitness but you always have the chance to regroup and get recognition from other riders but maybe what I’m envisioning here is just utopia… ehm Watopia!