Why are social rides like races?

I participated in a pride social ride this past Saturday. Are all social rides races? This was the first time participating in a social ride but there was nothing social about it. I could not identify a leader of the group and no one was reigning in those who were way above 1.5-2.0. I was expecting an easy paced ride but it was far from that. Being competitive as I am I stayed at the front of the pack most of the “social ride”. There must be a way for to keep a social group together no matter how hard some of these riders are pedaling.

One person is a bike ride. Two people is a bike race!!

I think you hit the nail on the head when you said, of yourself "being competitive as I am I stayed at the front of the pack’. And therein lies the issue. Had you just relaxed I am guessing you would have found that there was a nice pack of folks just cruising along at the advertised pace. Unfortunately, it sometimes only takes one or two people, and a bunch of other ‘competitive’ folks to just blow up an otherwise social ride.

Technically speaking, Zwift does offer a ‘fence’ for some rides (at the discretion of the ride leader, I think) to attempt to keep things in check. ‘Back in the day’, if the fence was used a rider who was beyond it for more than 30 seconds (at a time) would get booted out of the ride. Now, however, there is just a nagging ‘return to group’ message on the screen because there were all sorts of issues with the fence booting people who were actually behind the ride leader. (Zwift has tried, and failed, several times to remedy this but, alas, no progress.)

So, the best you can really do is to just go the advertised pace. There may always be fliers, but you don’t have to be one of them.


Next time I will try to reign myself in. I a strong ride and I have lead live social rides for beginners. Maybe I will start near the back of the group and work my way forward chatting along the way.

I find myself even on what are supposed to be easy days racing other riders on Zwift. It is hard for me to let my easy days be easy

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The question is was there a ride leader, many of these events by Zwift like pride and tour of x Don’t have leaders. people just settle in to their own pace.

I would suggest starting wit a group like the herd or dirt they hav nice easy group rides with good ride leaders.


The other problem with the ‘social’ rides is that you may join a nice mellow group of some 30 folks to start with. But as the ride progresses, the group starts going faster and faster and faster. Usually in the end theres only a few of us left, going ‘die or drop’ the last 5 minutes :frowning:


That is why it is important to find a good group to ride with a good group reader. They will keep the group engaged and if you stick to the leader you will have a good time.

I’m with you, I want a social ride to be social and not a race. I joined a Fun is Fast Ladies social ride today, advertised at 1.5 - 2.0 W/kg ride. I guess the clue was in the “Fun is Fast” name! If they want a fast ride then don’t advertise it for 1.5 - 2.0 W/kg. I started the ride, riding around 2.1 w/kg and the large front group just rode away. I was about to give up but found a slower group of 4 ladies. We lost sight of the yellow beacon within 10 minutes of the ride.
I tried another Ladies Only social ride a few months ago and the sweep “tried” to help me back to the group which again was going way above 2.0. I say “tried” as she kinda said I was too slow when I was riding at about 2.6 W/kg.
It’s demoralising for us lesser mortals!

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Hi @Kathy_Turner_Saffa

Welcome to the forum.

Looking at the ride it look like the leader was a fraction over 2w/kg but she is super light. Comparing your power you were in the same ball park. Were you on a TT bike because they can’t draft and will make the ride harder.

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Hi Gerrie
Thanks for your reply.
I was riding Canyon Aeroad 2021, not a TT bike.
I am bemused by Zwiftpower results. Unless the leader lost her yellow beacon I know I never passed her so how did she finish in a position lower than me? I don’t fully understand Zwiftpower.

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It was a timed event so the results are random. Everyone finished at the same time.


It’s also why I think Zwift needs to introduce the ability to rate ride leaders. There seems to be such a range in quality at the moment.

Some ride leaders stick to the advertised pace and handle fliers really well.

Others seem to speed up to catch the fliers, in doing so killing everyone off the back.

There appears to be a real art to being a good ride leader; if feels to me that the SAS riders are really good at it, but I won’t name and shame those that appear to be less good. It’s definitely very noticeable though when you join a group ride and find that the red sweeper is riding above average pace and ahead of the yellow beacon, trying to win the primes each lap and destroying any sense of group riding in the process.


A lot of the clubs organise regular social/paced rides, try a few and you may find some groups respect the pace (and leader) better than others.

Social rides list a W/Kg range but the two I have done (new to Zwift) I have to keep +.5 to +1 more than the high number in the range to stay with ride leader. I notice some riders around me, doing the same pace ( non TT bike and we are all drafting) are higher w/kg than me and some are significantly lower. Verified my personal data is correct and not sure how to check my trainer for accuracy.
What might cause this +/-3 w/kg variation in riders going the same pace?
Thanks in advance

Rider weight (and to a lesser extent height) make a difference. A light skinny rider has to do more w/kg to go at a given speed than a short heavy one. It’s one reason why using w/kg for categorising riders is such a poor idea.

I think however your estimates may be a bit exaggerated. If you look at the results on ZP most riders are usually within a few tenths of each other over a group ride.

The obvious explanation would be that the others are better at drafting than you. Try watching how your avatar sits higher up when it is drafting (just don’t use the Tron bike for this).

Another thing could be just instantaneous variation and you happened to glance at the numbers just at the wrong moment.

Anyway, what it definitely isn’t is your trainer accuracy, so don’t worry about that here.

I know this is an old post but I think the bots are great for a steady ride and often have a good number of riders. In fact the group rides without ride leaders should just have a bot at the correct power.