Zwift group ride pacing

I’m relatively new to zwift and group riding, but I’ve just come off a sub2 group ride described as a social ride between 1.5 to 2w/kg. From the get go the power output was ridiculous with everyone including the ride lead surging ahead with power in the upper 2s and some at 3. I ended up dropping out after 15 mins as I was left behind with no chance of catching up. There were no sweeps despite the description saying so and they clearly didn’t run the fence despite them saying they did. I dropped out to ride watopia as at least there I could ride with others.

Is this something that happens a lot with social rides? Is it a glitch or is it just like this :man_shrugging:. Won’t waste my time next time!

Not sure if it was an issue in this case, but one of the problems of w/kg-defined rides is that if the leader is, say, 90kg, and you are 60kg, then to keep pace with their 2w/kg you have to put out 3w/kg. I have this exact problem with doing 2.5-3 rides even though I can maintain somewhere around 2.7-3 depending on ride length, because I’m 68kg.

For sure, some leaders also do a better job than others keeping the advertised pace, and using chat to shame people into keeping the proper pace at the front. You just get to know from experience which rides work better for you, so I wouldn’t stop doing them, just try different ones.

Some are definitely run better than others! I’ve done a few pack and herd rides, they’re usually good.

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Just as in real life, there are those who call themselves leaders who are anything but.

Sadly, it’s a hit-and-miss affair: even normally good rides can be awry if, as has happened to me, the leader decides he’s “changed the rules” and rides at 3w/kg on a 2.0-2.5 ride. Others will surge uphill at much higher power, ripping apart an otherwise cohesive group. Similarly, be wary of any ride that talks about “average” power for the ride - interval training and a steady tempo ride may have the same average but cause very different stresses. Some may have a beacon on their head but they just follow the flyers because it suits them, rather than consider those who joined the ride expecting it to be run as advertised.

In my ZHR Weekend Group Ride on Saturdays, we start at 2.0w/kg (~160W) to group up and then I keep a steady 2.3-2.5w/kg (~190-200W) regardless of terrain. Despite what many will say, w/kg is still the best indicator of pace but allow some extra if you’re lightweight. For that reason, the event description should also include the leader’s expected power; not many do that and, after six years of Zwift, is an indictment on their “leadership”

Still, ride leaders are not machines, and the leader may have been pushing higher watts for a number of valid reasons, like moving ahead inside the group, or just getting their posterior out of the saddle for a while.

I guess chat is still broken/unreliable (the whole group does not necessarily see all messages, and on the other hand messages from different events leak across each other) so it does not work all that well for herding riders at the moment.

Also, Zwift physics seems to play some tricks occasionally. For instance, on a ride I led earlier this week, I was doing something like 1.7 W/kg comfortably (it’s a sprint ride so it varies between ~2.0 W/kg and full gas) and someone riding next to me was struggling to hang on at 3.0 W/kg.

You’re not the only one. I wish for more “group social rides” than off the start you’re gone! I can’t keep up that high energy pace, I’m certainly no pro racer cyclist and travelling upwards of 50km/hr constantly is something I will never do in my life! So, I agree, could we have a more relaxed socially paced ride? I still get my exercise that way, just a bit slower. Ok, maybe one or two short sprints, followed by catch up time, just to add to the mix and fun, but really not more than that. Watch the scenery, the birds, the bees, and catch that wonderful beach breeze or the fresh air of the forest. Thank you

The PACK, Herd and BMTR rides are all notable in their adherence to the advertised pace as well as a stellar group of sweeps. If they say Sub2, it’s gonna be Sub2.

Also, if you late start, you may find yourself with the miscreants who have blown through the fence and are riding well beyond 2.0w/kg (don’t ask how I know about those miscreants). It that happens, ride your pace and the blob will catch you.

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The Dan Diesel Pace Partner is an option for those wanting to ride around 1.5 w/kg, and sub-2.0 almost all the time.

As you and others wrote, some of the groups led by humans also stick to their advertised pace. Overall, it’s a matter of trying groups that look interesting, and exiting from those whose behavior doesn’t match what you want.

Hi Lauren,
Sorry to hear you have had some unfortunate experiences on group rides lately. As others have said, group rides vary tremendously depending on the club and the leader. I have found that Ascenders and BMTR ride leaders are very diligent about making sure their cat D and cat C rides hold the advertised pace.

Additionally I do find that as a lighter rider, I always have to be prepared to do a bit more work on group rides to keep up. Generally, I find that I have to do .5 to 1 w/kg more depending on the weight of the leader. This can make things particularly hard if the ride leader is much heavier than I am and is already riding at the top of the advertised watts per kg range as that often will result in my doing work in a zone that doesn’t align with my training program for that day. However, with trial and error I have found rides that match my expectations and my needs.

One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is that the start of group rides can also be tough depending on how large the group is. If the group is more than 100 riders and the beacon is at the front of the pen and you join shortly before the ride starts and are at the back of the pen, you may find that in the first 5 minutes you need to go much faster to catch up to the beacon; but once you’ve caught them you can settle down into a comfortable pace. This problem with the start of rides is now more true than ever given that often the yellow beacon is missing from view for most riders at the start of the ride due to a glitch with the recent software updates. So the beacon will be at the front and half of the back can’t even see them and everyone just chases wildly trying to catch the beacon.

I hope that you’re not too disheartened and keep joining group rides until you find a good fit.