Clarification needed on Group Ride pace

I’ve recently participated in several group rides in the 2.0 - 3.0 w/kg spectrum. It appears that we need some clarification and agreement on what that pace of “2.0 - 3.0 w/kg” means.

Is that a range? Or is it an average?

I look at it as range. As in: The ride leader will ride at a pace between 2.0 and 3.0 w/kg.

But the majority of ride leaders treat it as an average. As in: At the end of the ride, the ride leader’s average power output will be between 2.0 and 3.0 w/kg.

In nearly every event in which I’ve participated over the last month or so, the following scenario takes place…

  • At the first hill, the ride leader (along with some of the stronger riders) powers up to 4.3 w/kg, which stretches out the group.
  • After the summit, the ride leader resumes 2.9 w/kg, but the group is already stretched and as the speed increases the group now permanently fractures.
  • Somebody who got dropped complains that the ride leader rode up the hill way over the stated pace for the ride.
  • The ride leader responds: My average power so far is 2.8 w/kg. So sorry you got dropped.

So, which is it? Average or Range?

I would say that most ride leaders use more of an average pace and the good ones try to stay under the cap on the hills.

For example, some DIRT group rides will have a advertised pace of 2.5 - 3.2, the ride leader will hold the 2.5 and then surge to 3.2 on the hills.


I would say it is a range where the leader will stay between those limits all the time. (sprint sections is different but the leader should wait to regroup)

When I lead I take it as a range and I know I an heavy so I stay at the bottom of the range on the flats and in the middle on the climbs.

Some ride leaders like to flex their power and should not lead group rides.


Never sure why group rides focus so much on w/kg considering it means a different thing to everyone and the majority of the time the ride is on the flat. They should advise a combination of w/kg and what that translates to in raw watts for the Lead. During the ride they should also be giving target speeds.

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I have never understood why ERG mode can’t be used by the leader and the group in group rides so that the power stays constant for the entire ride. Maybe I don’t full under stand how ERG mode works but for me, group rides are the most disappointing part of Zwift.


Then riding with the pace partners is exactly what you want, constant power the whole time.

I have led rides where I set my trainer to a set power and most riders did not like it. they commented with out knowing what I did, that the ride felt unnatural.

A good ride leader will keep a relative constant pace and naturally slow on the climbs and speed on the flat.


And if the pace partners did that, we’d all be happy.

Even if the w/kg description was accurate, if you are significantly lighter or heavier than the ride leader, the speeds are going to be significantly different.

I feel like we’re expecting ride leaders to be everything to everyone, when they’re just people too and may not be enthusiastic about perfectly adhering to someone’s specific interpretation of the rules. Getting dropped isn’t the end of the world. If there are a lot of people with the same wrong expectations, it seems like there would be a group of people off the back at the same time.

I like how just in this thread, one person thinks the ride leader should slow on the hills, another wants them to speed up, and another wants constant power.

I’m an experienced group rider, AND pace 'bot groupie. However, the so-called “game-physics” throw a monkey-wrench into your hypothesis. Here’s how I know: I ride in workout mode all the time. With the companion app, I’m able to target a power range for extended periods of time without varying more than 10 watts up or down. Of course my speed changes depending on terrain/surface etc. However, when riding with a pace partner, I often need to vary my power through a range of 100 watts in order to keep within the “zone”. The experience is starkly different. I’ve watched live-streams of riders much more experienced than I expressing the same sentiment. The interaction between the 'bot and the riders around it when mixed into the “game physics” causes a very stochastic power output. I managed to cycle through 3 sets of 2.0x progressions today with Coco Cadence, and the ride was anything but consistent on power. That said, I’ve found that I’m developing some very positive physiological adaptations as a result of these pace partner pairings. I hated the rubber-banding at first. I still find it annoying. But the skill can be developed and there are benefits.

PS: all the pace partners slow on the climbs and speed on the flats, and even more so on the descents! Of course.