The problem of flyers on social group rides is not new and has certainly been discussed almost to death. At the end of the day everyone just says to ignore the flyers but if people were really doing that it wouldn’t be the active topic it constantly seems to be. I do agree that ignoring them is the best thing to do… under the current framework provided by Zwift. However, I’ve thought about the problem and believe that I have a constructive solution to the flyers issue that applies a policy that is non-discriminatory and might finally allow the whole thing to be put to rest. If you don’t agree I am sure the response will be merciless, but I will put myself out there anyway with my ideas.
To my mind, it seems the flyers join a ride that is stated to be at a particular range for w/kg, lets say 1.5-1.7 w/kg for a typical Cat D ride, and have no intention of restricting themselves to that range. They obviously feel their egos stroked by behaving in that manner… basically big fish in a little pond syndrome. Let’s take away the validation they get from these antics. Here is what I propose:
A ride, when submitted, should have new options available for ride organizers to select from, according to their choices on how they want their ride conducted.
Declare flyers via distance or time : Allows the ride to declare that if a rider is more than a specified distance from the leader in space or time or both, then that rider is a ‘flyer’.
Return to Group Option : Allows the ride to apply leniency to a flyer. Basically, if flagged as a flyer, and the penalty for such (see below) is invoked, selecting this option states that the flyer penalty is rescinded upon returning to the group such that point 1 above is no longer true. If the option is not selected for the ride then once a flyer forever a flyer for the purposes of the ride.
Flyer Penalty : Once flagged as a flyer a penalty is invoked. I suggest that the penalty is that the flyer loses the ride kit, reverting back to whatever the rider’s normal kit is. In addition, the rider is no longer considered part of the ride, as though they had never joined, unless the Return to Group Option is selected for the ride in which case they can redeem themselves and become part of the ride group again (with full kit privileges). Additionally, the penalty should include removal from any zwiftpower rider lists for the ride, which is irrevocable unless the Return to Group Option is selected and the flyer finishes the ride in the ‘redeemed’ state.
That is everything. It is not terribly complicated and is a fair set of rules to play by. The burden is shifted to the rider, when they read the ride description and decide to join the ride, as to whether or not they will be good citizens in full knowledge of what the consequences will be for not behaving in a socially acceptable manner. Ride leaders no longer have to repeat “flyers up front please slow down and return to the group” and everyone can be happy once more (except perhaps the now stymied flyers).