Group Ride Hostility Needs To Stop

I’ve been doing a lot of endurance rides using group events over the last several weeks, and they have spanned the gamut in terms of execution and mood. From years on this platform, I also know that group rides are not an exact science. Posted pace (W/kg) is not always translated to a rider’s experience on virtual roads. As a female on the left tail of the bell curve of rider weight in the overall Zwift community, I am often trending 0.2 - 0.5 w/kg higher than the group (unless the beacon is female or of similar size). Pack dynamics are yet another interesting wrinkle, especially when the terrain is a bit lumpy. The larger the group, the more likely it is that breaks will form.

A good ride leader can generally transcend these limitations by engaging the group and/or strategic use of the fence apparatus (scaled appropriately to group size). I also contend that group ride descriptions should be as comprehensive about the rules and pace as possible, e.g., fence/no fence, anticipated wattage (both raw and w/kg)/speed, drop vs no drop, etc. With that in mind, I have seen my fair share of great ride leaders and pretty terrible ones. Not that I believe that striking such a balance as a ride leader is an easy task by any means, but I do feel that if one signs up for that role, one must be a steward of both the group and the greater community.

I have observed a disconcerting lack of decorum and general respect of late on some group rides. Often, hostility is observed directed at other members of the community over pace, fences, etc. Today I was absolutely floored by a ride where some pretty substantial shaming took place on a non-fence 100K ride that I feel I should share as it demonstrates a growing trend on the platform.

The ride included 280 people, so for those familiar with groups that large, you know it’s damn near impossible to keep the entire group together on anything other than pan-flat roads. But it wasn’t a complete disaster, at first, the group settled in within a few moments as one VERY long blob. The advertised pace was 2.0-2.5 w/kg on the Tick Tock Route. I personally was hovering between 2.5-2.7 (which, from what I mentioned above, is ultimately holding the group pace), and the beacon was about 20m behind me. Things continued pretty steadily for 15 minutes or so until we hit some undulations in the road and the large group started to fracture.

My average wattage remained the same (minus some surges from dropouts to catch back on - another annoyance altogether), and over the course of a few minutes, I noticed the beacon was 1-2 tenths of a kilometer back from the very large group I was in. My position at the time was in the 120s, so definitely not at the “front” by any stretch of the imagination. I eased up to about 2.3 w/kg and figured I would slowly drop back solo or end up in a smaller bunch that the beacon group would swallow up.

I saw some chat about turning on the fence, mind you, approaching 20 minutes in with “zap em all” type comments and other disparaging remarks toward people who were in the pieces of the group that broke off in front (for reference, the beacon was at position 240/280 so make of that what you will). For whatever reason, I decided to appeal to people’s reason and say, “hey, just let people ride their own ride :).” Oh boy, was that a mistake.

I was met with lecturing about why people join group rides and what people “should” be doing. I said it doesn’t harm anyone that riders are out front and was met with comments like, “@ Sarah where’s your pro contract?” At that point, I was at position 161 and dropping back at an average of 2.4 w/kg for the ride. Then, the coup de grace when the ride leader decided to pile on and say, “hey, don’t worry, Sarah likes to join sub 2.5 rides and go 3.5 WKG.” To be clear, my average wattage was below 130 watts!! I couldn’t believe that a ride leader would call me out to the entire group because I deigned t suggest we all just live and let live.

I was dumbfounded that instead of diffusing the situation and reminding the group that it was a no-fence ride and that 100K rides over 250 riders might cause some breaks, the ride leader decided to pile on with some shaming of her own. My response was, “I’m at position 161 and holding posted pace, but Happy Holidays to you too.” I continued to see berating comments and be lectured and tried again to appeal to reason by noting that this type of discourse is not constructive, but to no avail.

I decided to round out an hour and find another ride, not the hill I was going to die on, mind you, being absorbed back into the beacon group within 4-5 minutes of this exchange. My ride was incidentally cut short by a phone call for a family matter, but not before I was left with a terrible taste in my mouth for this group.

I’m a big girl and not planning to cry real tears in my oatmeal because someone was mean to me on Zwift, but I do think this type of behavior on Zwift is unnecessary. People join this platform every day, especially this time of year. The last thing we need is gatekeeping, lecturing, and demoralizing on a platform dedicated to riding your bike, being healthy, and enjoying the COMMUNITY. This isn’t Twitter…

I know the subject of group rides and fences is often a polarizing one. I am not here to debate the best practices of group ride management. Rather, this post is an appeal to people who are on the platform: It really is not that difficult to be kind. Celebrating kicking people out of rides, calling people out for “Zwift crimes,” or browbeating other members of the community isn’t kind. Save the dog fights for somewhere else on the internet. I know there are some GREAT group hosts and ride leaders out there, and to those groups, I say a heartfelt thank you for adding value to this platform and community. Please keep doing what you’re doing!

I don’t understand why letting people go off the front of the advertised pace is such a big deal. there will always be people that want to ride fast or flex on the group, I say let them go, what harm does it do to let them go off the front. If people want to ride at the advertised pace then they should ride with the beacon. Why do we need to police things so stringently? I’m genuinely curious why this is such an issue so please educate me why we can’t just let those people ride off the front at whatever pace they want to ride?


Valid question… why get angry with riders who go a couple minutes off the front, but if they fall off the back by the same amount, it’s perfectly fine? … even though both groups maybe misjudged the ride description guidance on effort etc


We need to be able to rate group rides and their leaders (using the end of ride survey that you sometimes get with pace partners), and then publish the rating on the companion app/events website, etc… do you think that would help in these situations?


I honestly think that is a great idea. My biggest concern is who would be responding to the feedback? Zwift doesn’t control the group rides other than at a macro level for egregious concerns. Would that feedback go to a designee for the larger group? The leader themself? I think it’s a viable path; the logistics/response mechanism would just need to be worked out.

Think of it like a yelp review I guess, the feedback goes to whomever sets up the events (not necessarily the ride leader). It’s in their best interest to follow up with the ride leaders/sweepers or risk having a poor rating.

Zwift HQ could then monitor overall ratings and remove events from the calendar if they go below a certain level.

There are of course some downsides to this, mob rule… spamming low ratings to retaliate against a team, etc…

I have my suspicions on some group ride leaders who hold a particular power level very accurately and for long periods of time.

I just don’t join that event anymore.

Not to say rating is a bad idea, but a concern for implementation is to try to encourage the ‘it was fine but these aren’t my best friends’ riders to rate. Ratings that only collect “I love all these people like my children” and “I hate these people like I hate Putin” ratings often aren’t so useful :slight_smile: The unhinged rider (def not OP here) being able to flame a ride leader he doesn’t like might keep some people from wanting to do it.

But OP, your experience makes me hope I never come across that group. Yuk.

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I can definitely see people rating rides horribly as a joke… Overall, if Zwift could figure out how to do this, it would help the events calendar.

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I received this email and am quite distressed that my name is somehow being associated with negative comments during Zwift rides. I am NOT the Sarah being referred to in this forum. I very rarely participate in group rides and only occasionally post comments such as “hello from …” and “thanks for the ride”. I would appreciate a correction in whatever way is available.

Thank you,


I think the OP just accidentally tagged you in the original post when she was giving an example of in-game messages directed at her.

No one is associating you with the post. The forum does not handle the quotations well, and considering my name is Sarah, there is no confusion for anyone reading this.

Please allow me to weigh in to on this…

First and foremost of all, hostility in the ride (chat) should never happen. Live and let live, have fun and ride on! I will never advocate harassing anyone for doing what we all love best: riding our bike.

That being said, there ARE reasons to try and stick your group together during Group Rides. It’s kinda in the name already: a group ride. For me that suggest your personal needs/wishes are subordinate to those of the group. If you don’t want to hold back for a while to keep the group together, just ride alone our stick to a Pace Partner at more exactly your desired pace…

The problem with riders flying off front, is the group getting smaller, draft getting less and motivation for the few barely being able to hang on drops significantly. As a Sweeper during quite a few rides (and occasionally Yellow) I try to keep the group together. For ne thats what a groupride is about: riding together.

On this forum i read just as many topics about people questioning why they are being dropped during grouprides while riding the advertised pace. I think it is greatly demoralising (especially in the lower’end rides) for starters to get dropped frequently on rides you think you should be able to hang on to. In order to keep those fellow riders part of our community, support them by slowing down, help them out and NOT ride away out front, just because you can.

So: nobody should revert to foul language or discouraging chats, but neither should anyone fly off during social grouprides.


On some of the group rides even out of the starting area you see a huge sprint by the front third of the group then usually followed by ride leaders asking them to slow it down and drift back to keep everyone together.

It’s just nice manners to keep everyone together and not have people dropped off the back, that’s demoralising for those people.

I ride with a group that does it’s own rides which are never official events, we just meet up at the same time and off we go. Nobody gets dropped. Some of them have done 365 of these rides as of today. 365x ADZ in a year.


Because if you sign up for a “group ride” with certain pace parameters, and then you go off the front.above that pace, then clearly you’re doing your own ride and are not part of the group ride - so you deserve to be kicked out back to the regular world to do your own free ride.


Ok good. I don’t participate in the forums so I don’t know how they work. I wouldn’t want anyone I know to think I behave badly in Zwift World.


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I’d agree with group ride reviews - and, indeed, we pushed them in the beta days - but only if we can review the abusers we get as leaders.

For every bad ride leader there are dozens of abusive riders.


How is this different to just letting them ride off into the distance?


The difference is if they get told somehow they’ve “done it wrong”.

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I think there’s a benefit to the group dynamic if others are discouraged from chasing flyers. I’m also glad that there is a choice of both fenced and non-fenced rides.