problems with leading/riding in group rides

I lead a successful “metric century of the Americas” yesterday but after participating in a prior group ride and leading this one there were many subtle difficulties that could benefit from enhancements or changes to better facilitate group rides. Right now there are very few announced/organized group rides but over time I would expect this would be a major feature and additional things will encourage/facilitate them. I listed my thoughts on possible tweaks that would make things easier but perhaps others can chime in on which they like and/or their own different ideas to address these issues. I want to also emphasize that I absolutely love Zwift even if it never changed (though I know you will over time and it will be even more awesome)…you’ve already changed group riding forever. Of course we still want to gild the lily, so here I go:

  1. It’s very hard to get organized right at the start.

If you don’t pedal once you log in you can sit there but not all together. You can’t see everyone who intends to ride. Potential solutions include:
a) allowing you to move backward and forward and stop without brining up the pause screen so we can gather
b) making the pause screen much smaller so it doesn’t block the view and everyone else’s texts (this should be easy)…or have a “want to pause?” button that comes up instead
c) someone else suggested allowing a “corral” for a group ride…then we could just start there (e.g., instead of ride with friend, log on then enter “Corral A” or even corrals could be named for specific rides

  1. It’s hard to know who is actually in the ride.

We agreed on a certain color jersey but others can have that color too…also some in the ride couldn’t figure out or didn’t know to do the certain jersey (that’s correctable over time). Others jump in and out of the ride as we go, so you’re riding behind someone then a huge gap opens as they stop trying to be in the ride. Even with lots of views it’s also hard to see the whole ride to stay organized especially with others around. Some ideas that could make this better:
a) be able to make a list of people in a ride then have us highlighted to each other (e.g., we glow to each others view so easy to spot who is in the ride) both visually in the game, and in the list on the right side.
b) unique jerseys just to use for group rides
c) ability to create your own unique jersey to share with others for group rides (this could also allow clubs to make their own sort of club jerseys)
d) ability to change your name easily…so could make the group ride flag part of your name (e.g, for our “Green Blob Ride” I could make my name (D. Linkin) turn into “D. Linkin_GBR” (I also want to be able to change my name in general, I know you are working on that).
3) I saw someone else request and you respond that “private” group ride may be possible…e.g., you make a list of people and can only see each other…this would be great too at times.

  1. Hard to see both in front and behind you in views; hard to see yourself in “9” aerial view.

a) could have an option that you are highlighted but only to yourself in aerial view since that gives the widest view
b) split screen options for both forward and rear-ward or aerial views
c) another view that is 1/2 way up to aerial view, back a bit, pointed forward

  1. Hard to keep track of the group leader.

I (the group leader) was intentionally not surging to stay on wheels on our long/endurance ride to not drop those behind me (later I couldn’t since I was fried! :-0 …but others would lose track of me and had to work harder to realize the group had split at times.
a) Have some kind of special highlight for the group leader or special group leader jersey
b) Be able to highlight yourself as group leader (e.g., color on the column of names for your ride like there are jersey colors?) so in a big group others can see if they’ve lost you off their screen (what I realized was otherwise you had to look down/up the list and if it wasn’t all “0” seconds you were off the back or front).

Lots of good ideas in here, but one approach that might fold together a lot of these would be if the rider list on the side were adjusted for groups. Suppose if a group of riders showed up slightly indented (left or right) on the name display. This would help cue solo riders if they wanted to join in and it would help members of the group easily see if they are surging or lagging.

This all begs the question about what constitutes a group though. A month ago I might have just defined a group as any people within 25 meters of each other for more than 60 seconds, but the island is getting pretty crowded these days. Automatic grouping like this seems flexible. The corrals make sense for getting people organized and could also be used to define the group (coffee shop, TNW, etc) a bit more so people know what sort of group is coming along.

Heck, if this is done well enough I can see clubs hosting virtual rides. Lots of potential here.

When you enter the course maybe there should be an option to enter at the start / finish line.

Lots of potential here on this subject… Great observations being discussed.  I hope ZWIFT is looking into improving group rides .  My Club (150+ riders) about 70 active during the week would be very interested. Especially when the weather gets bad.  However we only a few members as ZWIFT members and could see more members with this type of service for group rides.

I will mention I don’t get the idea of randomly placing people on the side of the road.  It would be better to start anyone/everyone at the same spot regardless if a solo ride or scheduled group ride. Or as the above mentioned more than one corral like a coffee shop or bike shop or cafe or liquor store(jk)