Ride leaders off the front

The past few group rides I’ve been on, myself and several others have commented that the ride leader is miles off the front of the group.

I assume that they are not, but that some update from Zwift means we’re not seeing all the riders.

The issue is that if a ride leader is 100m ahead of the group and announces ‘please bunch up around me’, it causes a surge from the pack who think they are behind and about to be dropped, which then kick-starts the tumble-dryer effect.

It’s also weird because if they also say ‘flyers, stop going ahead’ (which this ride particularly did) then it’s nonsensical, because they are the ones flying ahead of the pack!

Is anyone else experiencing this problem? One minute the ride leader is next to you, the next they are 100m off the front of the pack with no change in watts or w/kg during that time.

It’s really making group rides a really poor user experience, as the pacing is all over the place. Going from 180 watts to 310 watts just to keep pace with a group that’s supposedly travelling on the flat at a steady speed.

I´ve seen this, but it was always due to technical difficulties. Most of the time the ride leader lost his connection briefly, and when he reappeared he was in a totally different position. I remember one group ride where the yellow beacon constantly switched from one rider to another which caused great confusion, of course.

I remember my first group rides very well. I was totally overwhelmed by the mass of people and things to care about - ride leader, sweeper, fence, group chat, leader announcements, checking my position and my w/kg, keeping the draft etc. etc., and on top having to read instructions in a foreign language. It took several rides to get used to it, now I feel very confident in group rides and know what to do in unexpected situations. But I´m sure many of those flyers etc. are just inexperienced and don´t really understand what´s going on.

When I experience a group ride where the ride leader doesn´t stick to the announced pace (which happens from time to time) I avoid those group rides in the future. I remember a group ride that was announced with 1,5w/kg; right after the start the ride leader announced: “Okay, we´ll start with an easy 1,7w/kg and will then continually increase to 2w/kg” :woozy_face:

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I have a few regular rides that I do. C Class. I usually get ahead of the leader but by about 45 min, he will pass and I can never catch up. Seemingly no matter what I do. Leader says he’s pacing at 2.5.

I have been on another ride where the leader insists on being at the front. Then lots of messages and chit chat when he’s in 60th place or whatever. I’m never quite clear on what the ettiquite is and/or if the system is out of whack to begin with.

Bear in mind that you can only see the nearest 100 riders around you. Depending on the size of the pack, it may appear to you that the yellow beacon is way ahead of the pack on their own. Or, in my case, that the sweeper’s red beacon has been dropped when they’re sitting at the back.

That said, there are some ride leaders that are inconsistent, especially on undulating terrain. It could also be that riders at the front of the pack are pushing the pace and dragging the leader, stretching the group to breaking point. It can also depend on type of drafting enabled.


This was my assumption, if it was a really big group you could still be in one pack, but not be able to see those around the leader. It would just appear as a gap between your nearest 100 riders and the leader.

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Hey @MRBaldi_T-ZHR I rode with your group on Saturday…good ride!

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I had assumed that this was the most likely scenario.

The problem with this in general though is that in group rides, people tend to ride by reference to their position relative to the group leader and the sweep. This works fine if you only have 10 riders, but in a bigger ride it just creates chaos.

In a group ride with 300 riders, for example (which many will have!) if it looks like the yellow or red beacon is well ahead of you, you get the impression that you are being dropped and so you (and others) will put in a surge to catch up.

To others - who see a different group of 100 riders, but which you might be a member of - it looks like someone is surging ahead, so they then end up putting their foot down.

It all ends up creating a tumble-dryer effect.

Some rides are worse for this than others. As I said, I don’t want to name names as it’s not appropriate, but there is a regular ride I join (because there are no others are the timeslot I’m free) where I end up going from 1.8 w/kg to 3.4 w/kg just to keep up with what’s on screen, even though it’s supposedly a steady 2.6 w/kg pace. Once the tumble-dryer gets going, it’s really hard to stop and ruins it for those who can’t hang on.

This is why I think the role of the sweep is absolutely crucial and where I’m finding it a pain. If you’re a sweep then you should be at the back. If you have 300 riders in the event, you should be sufficiently far back to allow 300 riders between you and the yellow beacon. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many riders you can see; if you’re between the yellow and red beacons then you’re fine.

Too many times the red beacon/sweep riders right up alongwith the yellow beacon and this means that people surge because it looks as though they are being dropped.