When do you decide to ‘upgrade’ to the next Robopacer? At the moment, Miguel is just a tiny bit too easy for me, but Maria is too hard. I have managed to stick with Maria for about 6 miles, and then I just start dropping back.
Should I stick with Miguel but do longer rides? I haven’t actually done his longer hilly ride yet, just the flatter one. Or just go with Maria and try to hang on for a bit longer each time? I found it quite demotivating that I couldn’t keep up with her for very long.
If you’re goal is to get more fit, as opposed to just put in miles, one option could be to stick with Miguell, but switch to a gravel bike. This would provide a bit more rolling resistance and, effectively, slow you down a bit. Then, when that starts to feel comfortable, switch back to a road bike and join Maria.
You could also try some structured training and follow a training plan
Or maybe a mountain bike first if Maria’s still a bit too much. The difference in rolling resistance isn’t a big from gravel to MTB as it is from road to gravel I think, but it’s there.
For some numbers @Ulrika_Mcleod here’s an article from ZwiftInsider:
As you will see in the table partway down, for a 75kg rider at 40kph, on normal roads 36 Watts are going to overcome rolling resistance. If you’re on a gravel bike, that’s 72W (so will feel a little harder), and an MTB is 89W. (Baseline numbers, all other factors being equal and stable.)
You could so some unstructured workouts with Miguel. Ride with them for a bit, then up the pace and ride off the front, then when you start to tire ease up until you’re back in the Miguel pack. Do that a few times a ride until you find it easy to ride off the front.
You could do both–use the suggestions above to sometimes ride with Miguel but making it harder. But then also challenge yourself to see if you can keep increasing the time you can hang with Maria Use previous workouts as your mark, and set a distance PR before you have to pull the plug. And then use Miguel with some self-handicaps for longer rides. Or do things like ride off the front of the Miguel group and see how long you can stay away, drop off the back and see how long it takes you to catch back up, etc.
EDIT: I like to jersey hunt, sprints and (short) KOMs. So often when I ride with a PP, I’ll go bonkers for a sprint segment, and then let the PP bunch catch back up and jump back in the bunch. I lose the drops multiplier, meh. But it doesn’t take too many full-out sprints to make hanging with my ‘normal range’ PPs much harder.
If you’re not already doing so, you might also try warming up with a slower RP for a while (Taylor maybe) before ending that ride and joining a Maria ride.
And remember not to let the RP group pull away from you - ever - or you’ll have a bugger of a job trying to catch it again. It really does reward you to pay attention to the group dynamics, especially when there are hills involved.
Trick with Maria group when it is very large is to always stay in the middle in the draft. If you fall away it will be very difficult to return back.
Maria was on Tempus route recently and they were going pretty quickly.
You can also try joining the faster pace partner that doesn’t have too many people in the group, this will make things a bit slower and slightly easier.