Constructive Solution to the Problem of Flyers in Rides

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.

  1. 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’.

  2. 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as a flyer, and the penalty for such (see below) is invoked, selecting this option states that the flyer penalty is rescinded upon returning to the group such that point 1 above is no longer true.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.

  3. 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).


This is a suggestion we definitely need, especially with lower power (sub 2) group rides. There is a high demand for social rides below 2.0 w/kg and flyers often disrupt those rides with their antics. For beginning riders, as well as riders doing rehab or recovery, lower power social rides are an important aspect of the overall Zwift experience.

Geoff’s suggestion would still allow group rides which include regularly placed sprint segments, as well as common regrouping points. As a ride leader and sweeper I have better things to focus my energy on that harshing on flyers not to disrupt to ride for others.


as a ride leader and founder of facebook group zwift beginner rides (ZBR),nearly 1000 members strong, this has my vote. two ride on thumbs up!

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As a noob I can’t agree more.  

It would also be nice to maybe have the group leader stay at the top of the rider list and the sweeper at the bottom.  I’m sure this has been mentioned before.

Easy, peasy… too far out at a certain marker and you lose the kit.  That way people can sprint and return if they really want to.

Ride ON!

Like everything in life, there’s always someone that delights in simply ruining it for everyone else - especially online - simply because they can. And group rides in Zwift are no exception.

Whist the impact on the rest of the group is minimal, it is counter to the spirit of the group, especially where impressionable new riders are concerned, and I would support the ability for group leaders to interactively eject riders from the event.

I don’t see anything unfair or unreasonable in Geoff’s suggestion and I would think that such a feature would go a long way towards eliminating this behaviour in Zwift altogether.

I would suggest however that the Zwift software provide some ‘checks and balances’ to ensure those marked as ‘flyers’ really are flyers, and not due to operator error or, unthinkable as it may be, vindictive leaders. It should also mitigate any complaints about being ejected unfairly.

As a ride leader I full support this suggestion, flyers make the zwift experience detrimental to other users and should be discouraged. This will enable ethical zwifting and minimise electronic doping.

For points 2 and 3 I think it would be much better if the flyers were just automatically dropped back behind the last rider in the ride when they got too far ahead.  I can think of a few cases (for example coming down the mountain in Watopia) where it might be difficult to keep a ride tight.  Moving flyers behind the last rider would serve to keep their egos in check, not require checks and balances, and not require any action on the part or ride leaders.  (There would also never be a shortage of sweeps :slight_smile: )

I’ve been guilty of being a flyer as well been frustrated by them.

I like these options and others that could have the similar effect.

It’s good to keep these as options to blend in with the spirit of a particular ride have the flexibility , depending who actually rides on any given event slot (rather than making them compulsory)

Hi Brenda! I appreciate you looking at these suggestions and thinking about them. Dropping flyers to the back of the ride is too punitive and might unfairly punish someone who just got mistakenly too far ahead, as from sprinting. It nullifies the Return to Group option that is meant to take this situation into account.

I’d like to encourage ZHQ to look at the chat transcripts for the two 1.0-1.3 w/kg rides I lead – ZBR’s Saturday Rehabilitation Ride and OCC’s Sunday Baby Steps Ride – and see how many people there are who are shut out of the higher paced rides, which often wind up turning into races all too often, because of the problem with flyers.

Each time I lead one of those two rides I ask a number of questions, and one of them is “Is this your first group ride?” and another is “Is this the first group ride you’ve completed?”

Flyers aren’t going to give up on Zwift, but the people who are hurt by flyers turning group rides into races are.

Great idea! As someone who is very much put off by those so much better, I would prefer they move up to a ride of a higher level (there is certainly no shortage of those) or follow the rules. For those of us who know we need to improve we need a space where we’re not made to feel inferior and can actually feel good about where we are and what we’ve already achieved.

I could not agree more with all the above recommendations. As an older rider I don’t always feel like participating in a race or being made to feel inferior if I can’t keep up with the group. The sub-2 rides fulfill my desire to ride socially in a group at a casual pace.

Steep is the learning curve for Zwift and starting out, it is all overwhelming.  Group rides are a simple game: stay as close to the leader as possible.  Flyers are unacceptable because they disregard the basic rule: in a group ride, you ride with the group.  In situations where new riders have trouble seeing the beacon or lose the beacon - due to information overload or their particular set up, they can end up chasing the flyers.  If newbies are chasing the flyers and staying with them, they may only wonder why the ride is above the advertised pace.  If they are struggling, they might get angry.  If they get angry, do the blame the flyers?  No, they blame the group that sponsored the ride!  In a world where anyone with a phone can express their opinion, there are still people who won’t comment or complain, they just won’t come back. 

My entire motivation for being a new ride leader (2 rides so far) in a new group is 1: group rides are more fun than solo rides; and 2: I want Zwift to continue to improve and thrive, which it cannot do on my $10-15 per month.  Geoff’s suggestion is a good one that can eliminate the problem with flyers and improve the Zwift experience for all but the flyers. 

Hi, I’ve experienced this problem with every group ride I have entered and that’s why now, I only enter either a Group Workout or a Race.  Question to ride organizers, is there any disadvantage to just organizing your ride as a Group Workout so that everyone stays together?

I do agree that a method to control Flyers would be nice. I have been dragged out ahead of the leader by these groups. Never with the very front and fastest group. I have finished some of the Sub2 rides more than a minute ahead of the leader. Am I a flyer? For some reason it is easier to stay just ahead of the leader than just behind. If I drop behind on any but the slowest groups, I am dropped. Any ride in the 1.5 to 1.8 range I can hold on to the leader. The 2.0 I am gone.

Love Zwift and the ability to pass along thoughts and ideas.

To answer Alex Pond, yes there is a very big disadvantage in organising the ride as a workout… if everyone is automatically stuck together then you lose the whole aspect of having to work to a certain level to keep up with the bunch which is pretty much the whole point of organised rides. When joining a ride that is perhaps slightly above your capabilities, the idea is to hold on as long as possible, and improve each week. If you were to be stuck to the bunch regardless, the motivation to push yourself is completely eliminated.

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As someone that does a reasonable amount of Sub 2 rides I would not be against this, however there are a couple of things to take into consideration.

  1. The 2 KM (or whatever the rider leader decides) to go sprint for the line where large gaps do open up.

  2. Issues like last nights 18:00 GMT Sub 2 where the rider leader had a mechanical :-)  and the rest of us formed or tried to form other groups.

Perhaps a “flyer” could have an additional drag placed upon them so that there is actually a good Chance the group would catch them in the long run.

Finally - until we can see more than 100 riders it is often difficult to even keep tabs of where the leader is even if they are close by. Saturdays ride had more than 550 riders if I remember correctly.


** Edited as the Pack in my name only reflected a group ride and the comments are my own and not as a representative of PACK.

Gary Monhan, those are fair points you bring up. I can think of possible solutions to each of the items.

For example, if the map of the course in upper right always showed leader position outside of the 100 rider limit for visibility that would alleviate the issue of not knowing where the leader was.

Another example for the case where a leader has to stop/frop out. This can be handled with backup leaders that have the beacon “passed” to them as happens for sweeps currently.

Thanks for looking and commenting! We are all just looking for an equitable solution to a not so equitable problem!

Hi Geoff, Agreed - there are definitely possible solutions and I was not advocating doing nothing just highlighting a couple of finer points to be worked through. Another is the age old group ride issue where you climb at your own speed an regroup at the top. Long may sub 2 groups continue to help fill the gap for those that don’t always want to race or where sub 2 is an achievement in itself. I certainly plan to continue to use them and hopefully in the coming months new features arrive to help discourage breakaways where this is not the goal of the ride.

Garry Monhan… we are in full agreement! Ride-On!