Customisable Virtual Group Ride - on demand 24/7

Really loving the group rides - but a lot of times during the week, even with late join, it can be hard to find a group ride of the right category/distance/course type that suits.

An amazing feature would be to have a virtual group ride that could be selected 24/7.
As it would be computer controlled, i’m imagining you could just pick the route you want to do, plus choose your w/kg to set the pace and off you go (maybe an option of choosing group size?).

Obviously you wouldn’t get the same social interaction as you you do with the proper group rides, but it would be something to fill the gaps for the times a live group ride doesn’t suit - which I’m finding is quite often for me these days trying to manage work, a 1 year old and fit some riding in too!

You mean with computer controlled fake riders?

Hi Daren,

Yes I guess so. You would enter your desired pace and amount of riders and the Zwift would bring you to the start pen ready to go like a normal group ride - only difference being the riders are all computer generated. There would have to be some tweaking perhaps to allow pace to vary a little bit up/down to keep some realism.

Another idea would be to actually somehow ‘save’ an actual group ride (lets say SAS 40km C Ride on a Thursday evening) and then re-ride it whenever you want, which would include the dynamics from that particular ride. There would be no need for Zwift generated ‘fake riders’ as the riders that took part in that ride would all be there virtually.

Just a couple of ideas - anything that could give a group ride feel ‘on demand’ as such.

Some of this kind of existed in the early days of Zwift. There were fewer real people using it, and the world was populated by “blue riders”:

So it’s probably the case that some of the code that could make this work already exists.

Your idea about “saving” a group ride would seem to line up with the feature request for “personal best bots”. I dare say Zwift would have to implement that before widening the system out into entire groups of ghost riders.

Do you not enjoy just joining the world and riding around with people in general?

Ahhhh, thats very interesting, thanks for the info Daren.

I guess that would mean, much of the underlying code is actually there, although I recognise there would be a lot of work needed on the interface side for setting this all up too…but much better than starting from a blank slate!

Yes, I’m not a big fan of riding around on my own or trying to find other riders to ride with.
Its one of the reasons i’m not part of a club anymore - I could never meet the times that they were heading out.

Getting time to ride is a big pressure with little feet running around these days, I find the group rides to be very motivating and I like the structure of them. There are a lot on there, don’t get me wrong, but with such specific time windows available I still find myself missing out on them and getting stressed trying to make the starts (even with late join).

The fact that the riders might be bots wouldn’t bother me at all as long as they stick to the prescribed pace! :stuck_out_tongue:

It also creates an interesting training idea as I could easily for example set up my own 2.0w/kg group ride today, but if I felt like it tomorrow, try a shorter but faster 2.8w/kg ride.

Maybe this goes against the whole Zwift ethos as it seems to push the social side of things and I may be an outlier with a very specific request, but it would be interesting to hear if anyone else thought it would be useful.

Just had a quick read and the PB bot would also be very useful and maybe easier/quicker to implement as a starting point!

I’ve got a two-year-old myself, so definitely get that about time constraints. Indeed, it’s one of the reasons Zwift’s precursor was created in the first place. (See https://zwift.com/news/102-the-early-days for example).

I believe Zwift have more community-orientated tools in the works that should help people set up events. That being the case, I’d expect the choice of group rides to increase over time, so this might be a relatively short term requirement. (Hopefully!)

Other options might be to join a team (like DIRT, which I’m a member of) or other Zwift group, and set up “Meetups” with other riders at times that work for you. Meetups enable you to create an ad-hoc group ride with other people:

They even have an option to keep everyone together, so you can create meetups with people who are stronger or weaker than you, but still ride alongside them:

Thanks for taking the time to post all that Daren - very interesting and looks like Zwift are certainly doing their best to give us as many opportunities as possible to ride together.

I think what I like about the virtual riders, is that they are available 24/7 with no prior notice needed.
My erratic schedule means I could be 30 mins late myself, maybe have to miss an evening altogether, maybe want to do a bit longer on a certain day if it works out - I would never be able to schedule my rides along with someone else - they would get too annoyed and just find someone else!

Thanks for all the replies, fingers crossed something will be available in the coming year. In the meantime, ill just keep trying my best to join in with group rides as and when I can.

I like the idea of a 24/7 group ride, but I would like to see the ride leader be a bot that holds the advertised w/kg. Real-life riders could join the group ride at any time and stay for as long as they like, but the only virtual rider is the leader. When riders join the group ride, they’d be placed in the world wherever the group happened to be at that moment (similar to the current ‘late join’ feature).

Hi Wade,
This sounds like a good way to implement - there would only need to be 1 virtual ride for each race category, which runs 24/7 with a bot leader at the advertised pace. As you say, anyone can then join or leave at any stage - you just stay as long as fits in with your plans.
Perhaps the course could change weekly or something like that?

Hey Ryan,

I like your idea of having the course change weekly, which could provide some variety in the 24/7 group ride.

This feature seems like it should be easy for Zwift to implement. They could have a couple of bots at different paces that ride around a different course each week. It could be as simple as ‘friending’ the bot and selecting the option to join the bot just as one selects to join a real-life friend. Based on the large number of people that are on Zwift at any given time, there’s bound to be a small or medium group riding with the bot at all times.

Excellent idea about just being able to friend the bot and off you go Wade - sounds like the easiest and quickest way for it to be implemented as well which would be a benefit.

One thing I was just thinking regarding the bots - it would be nice for them to have a slight variance in pace to humanise it a bit and also maybe offer a sprint effort on the course each lap, much like a normal group ride on Zwift, slowing down for 1 minute afterwards to allow anyone who doesn’t want to sprint to catch up - just helps keep it interesting - these are group rides, not training plans after all, so a bit of variance keeps it fun and engaging.