Thursday, September 27, 2007

Group Rides... help or hinderance?

This is a question I have struggled with for a long time. I have a structured training plan, but I enjoy my 3 group rides every week. I have a hard time getting in the workouts I am supposed to riding these 3 group rides every week. I am a coach so I know what I am supposed to do, but that doesn't mean I always do what I should. As my parents used to say "Don't do as I do; do as I say." :-)

The problem with group rides is that the are unstructured and impossible to accomplish the specific tasks that your training plan calls for. Of course, there are some exceptions like when the group ride is a recovery ride and you need that. Also, there are "training" rides where a group of riders get together and agree on a specific purpose for the ride that agrees with their training plans. Training rides have structure while group rides do not.

For me, I need to make a change next year. While I will continue to do my 70 mile Saturday Club Ride, I will need to think about what I will do on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I really want next year to be a break through season for me, so I need to make some changes.

You may ask, why I am thinking about this at the end of the season. I read an article on Pez Cycling News that talked about this very subject. That article can be found here:

Let me know what you think about this topic.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a topic that I regularly contemplate. Here are my conclusions after thinking this over the past few years. Group rides serve many purposes but the main one is that once a rider gets to a certain level( many times to 17-18.5 mph solo and ride lengths of 25-40 miles) they are used to get to the next level. They provide for that person ride consistency, regular mileage, motivation to ride when the weather is iffy, pack experience, a way to see your progress as you go from being pulled to pulling, etc.... then people get to the point where they may feel that they out grow the group workouts. I think we should realize that the group rides usually have a purpose ie.. one long ride, one hills and one w/ break aways/ speed play etc... This is where I think we can use the group rides to our advantage as we become better riders rather than loosing them. Some examples are: if you find your-self (like I have) sitting behind a large group of riders doing 25-30 mph and a low hr due to the draft.(when your pre-ride goals are to ride solid w/ a good HR. and be fairly taxed after the ride) Try leading a smaller group of riders to go off the back and you pull them everyone gets a better workout. Or put in some harder mileage before or after the group ride to accomplish your goals. I regularly show up for part to all of a group ride and still accomplish my goals by modifiying my approach. Another example is pull the group before you hit the hills or lay back and brake going down the hills (pass on your knowledge to newer riders) then try to catch the lead riders or at least those in the middle to back of the lead pack.

The main message is please think twice about not riding w/ the group. Most riders start there and I think it is important for us to make an effort to continue the tradition along w/ continuing our riding evolution. I think the other risk is (if we solo ride our specific workouts) eventually we will miss the important things that the club rides provided us. The exact things that got us to this level will be missing and we may start to slip backwards or even stop riding.

I encourage more experienced riders to use there newly aquired cycling knowledge to there advantage and incorporate it w/ the group rides. If you have specific questions on how to do this please ask and in many cases we can find a way that achieves both goals.

Tom Dvoratchek