Poor Yellow Beacon Pace Compliance

Many group rides are lead by Yellow beacons that ride over the advertised watts per kg. If a rider loses the draft of the group around the Yellow they are dropped quickly. Today I completed an advertised 1.8-2.0 watts per kg at 1.9 watts per kg a full 5 minutes behind the yellow beacon.
Zwift should require the Yellow beacon to ride time a trial bike so their effort would represent riding on the front of the group because they would get no draft benefit making it easier for those dropped to catch back on. Group rides will become things of the past if they don’t deliver as advertised. Pace partners are far more reliable for a ride if you had planned to be a recovery ride.

Had you stayed in the group do you think you would have finished the ride with the same average power?
The advertised pace usually works as long as you’re in the draft. It’s normal to have to dig very deep to get back into a group if you get dropped out the back.
If the beacon was using a TT bike the overall pace of the group would be far lower than what the beacon would be showing.
The only way for what you’re suggesting to work would be for the wind resistance completely removed for everyone. Or for there to be no draft for anyone for the whole ride… even then you run into issues of power to weight for various rider shapes and sizes.
I hear you though, it does suck to get dropped out of a group.


I can ride at the pace the yellow beacon was riding. In fact I caught up to the yellow to see that she was riding around 2.5 watts per kg. She explained that she needed to ride at that level because she was replacing the 85 kg man who usually lead the ride. Her higher wattage paired with his weight put her in the proper advertised pace.

Speed in zwift is a calculated number so slowing the group down is not an issue. Wattage output determines level of effort. When you have a workout plan you ride at a targeted wattage. Group rides make that ride a social event. Otherwise a pace partner or a workout is ideal but a bit boring. I have ridden zwift since it was in beta testing and I found that ride leaders used to ride at the advertised watts per kg. I have found that is no longer always the case.

Similar to hostile group leaders, a rating system could help.

It’s true that if a leader is not respecting the pace, it’s difficult for everyone. Nevertheless, it’s still possible to lose the pack for some reason even though the leader is perfectly at the advertised pace. Then, if you don’t have anyone dropping to bring you back, staying on your own at the proper pace will never bring you back. So you would for sure have people pushing over, but also some staying perfectly at the pace.
If staying at the numbers, the leader can’t be blamed if people are dropping.

It makes no sense for the leader to be on a TT bike. The leader is a human who gets tired like other riders in the pack and is also happy to have the draft helping. It’s like in real world. You ride with a big group, for some it’s too easy, for others it’s too hard, but everyone has hills, wind and holes on the road the same.

In group rides even with fence on you still have often flyers… And dropped people. Leading is a tough job! But I’m with you that a leader needs to lead which means check the numbers. While not forgetting that if it’s not fully flat, the pace will go higher during climbs and lower during downhills, but the average will be correct even though the pack won’t be much packed anymore and will require regrouping…

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Falling out of the group means losing the draft effect. Without the draft, you have to put in more watts to keep the speed up. Losing five minutes is not wrong in this case. If you close a gap, the wattage increases. I would ride with a slower pace partner. The yellow :yellow_heart: beacon isn’t the ride leader - that’s a human being.

Some of the best group rides have the leader asking people to be careful uphill and not push the pace on hills, and the majority of people respect it.

Then look at the Trek rides which I think are run by a group from a bike shop in Victoria, Australia, they call a complete stop to get the group back together at a particular point in the ride. This works extremely well. And doesn’t need people to smash themselves to get back to the main group.

But they break the rule from one person in another thread “too much nonsensical banter” and “clickety talk” from people who’ve known each other for ages, proving no matter how much you try you can never please everyone.

So far I haven’t been able to complete one of those trek rides because of my injuries at the moment, but they have a great friendly atmosphere.

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I think it is not fair to generalize from just a single group ride experience. As a frequent group ride leader I can tell that most leaders try very hard to keep the advertised pace. But I also know, that it is an unpleasent experience to get dropped though.

You need to always keep in mind the following:
If you lose draft of just a single rider in front of you you need to push 25 % (!) more just to keep pace. If you lose the draft of a larger group you need to push up to 33 % more just to keep pace with the group and even more to catch up. This makes quite a difference and some dropped Zwifters might think that the leader is riding above the advertised pace when he/she/they actually isn’t.

I understood that in your case this was not the only problem since the leader actually was a bit faster than advertised, but the draft issue should not be underestimated.



Is there a means of organizing the ride with draft turned off, or putting everyone on a TT bike? I’m guessing someone has tried this experiment.

TT bikes now draft off other TT bikes… or is that only in TTT events and not out in the free ride world?

I believe only in TTT events, or other events that specifically have draft enabled such as the Torturefest 100K

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The only option a ride organizer has regarding drafting is to turn double draft on, but that would make everything worse I guess.


As a organizer you can put every one on a TT bike but no one does it because it is a horrible experience.

I think more people should sign up to be a group leader for a month or two just to realize what am unthankful job it is.


Group ride leaders just complain much less often about poor participants compliance than vice versa. :wink: I am sure all leaders could tell stories…

There was this guy, complaining about too much “gay talk” … during a Pride ride. :upside_down_face:


I have to correct myself. I just found out that it actually seems to be possible to disable draft for a group ride. Just to be correct.


Interesting. I would have to agree with Gerrie, that it would (to put it mildly) make for a weird ride. But on the flip side, it might help solve for some types of issues that lead to a disbanded group. It might be an interesting experiment to try once. A look at filtered Zwifthacks events, there are no rides with the “No Drafting” rule set, and only a couple Non-TT races (ID#s 3367868 and 3369673 as examples). So obviously not something tried all that often, especially within a more casual group ride format.

You have to try it once to know it does not work, we have been leading rides for many years.

The fence solved many many issues.

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I don’t doubt it, but haven’t seen it. The fence though doesn’t address the previous mention of those falling off the back and out of the draft and then unable to power back to the pack.

There is also evidently a somewhat vocal contingent out there that does wish there were non-dynamic Pace Partner options (I’m not one of them fwiw). This could perhaps be a means of offering something at a fixed wkg pace, with neither terrain nor draft-induced dynamics, and led by a human instead of a bot.

Have you tried loosing the draft IRL behind a big bunch, you need super power to get back and most of the time you are not getting back if the pack does not have to slow for a turn or they sit up.

I have been on human-led group rides where the leader controlled their trainer in ERG mode from a Garmin and announced as they made changes ramping up from the start, and then shut off ERG mode on the finishing climb. The predictability of it was nice.