riding in mixed ability groups (i.e., most winter groups)

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mfarnham
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riding in mixed ability groups (i.e., most winter groups)

Post by mfarnham » Fri Nov 02, 2018 9:04 am

With rough weather, group sizes get small and the spread of ability/strength/speed within any group tends to widen.

Ditch the rotating paceline when you have a group with a wide spread of abilities. It makes *zero* sense to ask for equal pulls from everyone when strength varies widely. Instead, ride two-up paired roughly by ability, have the strongest pairs do long steady pulls on the front, and have the weakest pairs skip their pulls. This will make for the fastest, smoothest possible ride. The rotating paceline is a spectacularly dumb formation for riding with a wide mix of abilities.

Everyone has a role to play in keeping the group together and keeping the ride smooth. And everyone will play each of these roles at some point, so understand and practice each of the roles.

1) Slower riders (relative to the group you’re in): *Don’t burn yourself out*; call steady before it’s too late (while you still have enough breath to yell); rest on the back as needed (if the group is silly enough to be rotating, then take breaks from the rotation by playing “doorman” on the back—call out “UP UP {name}!” to the riders continuing to rotate to let them know when it’s their turn to pull from the slow line into the fast line.).

2) Faster riders (relative to the group you’re in): Ride to the pace of the slowest rider. Don’t ride to the pace you personally feel like riding at in the moment, unless it happens to match the pace of the slowest rider. It’s called a “group ride” and “no drop” for a reason. If you want an extra workout, ride up a group, announce your departure from the group and go for a TT ride, or help tow riders off the back to reconnect them to the group. Look back to make sure the whole group is there--regularly. If someone’s missing, ride back, pick them up, and tow them back. You’ll get a huge workout this way and extra citizenship kudos. Put a foot down at the top of hills and let the last rider catch their breath before forging on. If you ride your own ride without riding to the pace of others, you’re screwing the slower riders and the group as a whole. Ask yourself if that’s really how you want to start your day and everyone else’s.

3) Riders in the middle: You all are the critical link and the potential heroes of the ride. You have enough breath to yell “steady” at riders pushing the pace, repeatedly if necessary. You should be checking up on the slower riders to see how the pace is for them (look back regularly, talk to them, look for blood coming from their eyeballs, etc.). You also have enough oxygen reaching your brain to make decisions and take command of a group that’s at risk of falling apart. If faster riders refuse to slow down, make a deliberate decision to *let them go*. Let them sit out in the wind and tire themselves out or ride off on their own. Communicate clearly to the rest of the group that *no one is to chase them*. If you find yourself chasing fast wheels in the front, you’re guaranteed to be gapping or gassing the slower riders in the group and this will—sooner or later—cause the group to fracture. So your job is to recognize when you’re working hard enough that the pace must be hurting someone else, and then do what it takes to bring that pace down to something sustainable for the whole group. Some faster riders will never learn, so it will often be up to you to hold the group together by clearly communicating to let the faster riders go.

It’s a good idea to keep a head count in mind and periodically check that the group size matches the headcount. Everyone should be in the habit of doing this on rides.

Contributing to a smooth ride is everyone’s job. It shouldn’t be the responsibility of a small handful of people in the club to have to yell constantly about this stuff. Do your part to hold mixed groups together. Thanks.

Martin

Scott Davis
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Re: riding in mixed ability groups (i.e., most winter groups)

Post by Scott Davis » Fri Nov 02, 2018 9:37 am

Well said Martin! My nomination for post of the year.......or at least post of the fall/winter.

Steven
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Re: riding in mixed ability groups (i.e., most winter groups)

Post by Steven » Fri Nov 02, 2018 8:47 pm

Awesome post.

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Stéphane Tran
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Re: riding in mixed ability groups (i.e., most winter groups)

Post by Stéphane Tran » Fri Nov 02, 2018 11:55 pm

I agree in principal with much of what you are saying Martin. However, a rotating paceline can work *in certain situations* (e.g. certain stretches on Wallace) when the stronger riders rotate through, but the slower riders just don't rotate through at all. I have seen this many times on the OBB ride where a group of 5-8 riders have a steady rotation going with a longish line of non-rotating riders behind. I agree with everything else you said though, and I hope your post gets a lot of views.

mfarnham
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Re: riding in mixed ability groups (i.e., most winter groups)

Post by mfarnham » Sat Nov 03, 2018 7:28 am

Agreed Stéphane, though it generally requires a high degree of coordination and/or an experienced group. If people use this approach, I'd add that it's often useful to put a semi-strong rider in between the rotating riders and the resting riders (or a pair of semi-strong riders if the resters are 2x2) , as the draft can be a bit patchy right on the back of the rotation, with a gap opening and closing constantly. Also a semi-strong person will have enough breath to do whatever calling out is necessary to coordinate the rotation in front, while keeping an eye on the resting riders at the back to call steady if necessary.

However your group is being run, communication is key. Talk to each other in the parking lot and on the road.

Martin

p.s. And just to clarify, I see no problem with the A groups using a rotating paceline when the ability range is high, so long as conditions are safe. Everyone there is likely to have enough experience to implement what Stéphane proposes on the fly and it's less of a problem if struggling riders get dropped.

Louise Wallace
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Re: riding in mixed ability groups (i.e., most winter groups)

Post by Louise Wallace » Sat Nov 03, 2018 12:25 pm

Well said Martin! I do like the rotating pacelines but the last few winters the B group would ride 2 up dropping to the back when conditions became dark and wet. I think on Sundays we have a chance to discuss weather everyone is happy with a pacelines in certain areas. Most importantly we need to pay better attention to what's happening in the group and make the rides work for everyone. The one thing I am love about tripleshot is the strong riders who have no problem riding at a slower pace to help others in the group who need it. I could throw a few names out but they know who they are. 😀

rduncan
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Re: riding in mixed ability groups (i.e., most winter groups)

Post by rduncan » Sat Nov 03, 2018 2:00 pm

Removed due to being inappropriate.
Last edited by rduncan on Sat Nov 03, 2018 2:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Rob Duncan

Scott Davis
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Re: riding in mixed ability groups (i.e., most winter groups)

Post by Scott Davis » Sat Nov 03, 2018 2:22 pm

Louise hits the nail on the head about what I think Martin is getting at...."Most importantly we need to pay better attention to what's happening in the group and make the rides work for everyone. The one thing I love about tripleshot is the strong riders who have no problem riding at a slower pace to help others in the group who need it."

It's simple. In the winter when it's dark and rainy, ride nicely. If you're a fast rider with slower riders, be nice and look out for them. If you want to go faster, show up in the parking lot before the ride and go with a faster group.

PDavis
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Re: riding in mixed ability groups (i.e., most winter groups)

Post by PDavis » Sat Nov 03, 2018 2:49 pm

I always read all the posts but don't usually chime in but this time I think I will! From the perspective of one of the slower riders on Friday's ride I just wanted to say that I have no problem with a rotating paceline in the winter. I have learned to just not join in with the paceline if I am starting to hurt. That way I still have enough gas in the tank to stay at the back and call people through.

The problem with Friday's ride was at the top of Caddy Bay Hill when the group didn't regroup properly. Neil was doing the good Samaritan act of stopping to clear a branch off the road. I assumed the group would soft-pedal until we were all back together but it never happened. Neil dragged four of us all the way to KGT only to get within 50 feet of the group and have most of them take off again. Ouch!

As a slower rider, I love the challenge of riding through the winter but don't want to spoil the ride for others. If I'm obviously completely done, I will be the first to tell the group to go ahead and take a shortcut to work. I really don't have a problem doing this! I just don't think the rotating paceline was what caused Friday's ride to fall apart, it was the failure to regroup at the top of a hill and communicate effectively.

Penny

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Rolf
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Re: riding in mixed ability groups (i.e., most winter groups)

Post by Rolf » Mon Nov 05, 2018 8:38 am

mfarnham wrote:
Fri Nov 02, 2018 9:04 am
2) Faster riders (relative to the group you’re in): Ride to the pace of the slowest rider. Don’t ride to the pace you personally feel like riding at in the moment, unless it happens to match the pace of the slowest rider. It’s called a “group ride” and “no drop” for a reason. ... Look back to make sure the whole group is there--regularly. ... If you ride your own ride without riding to the pace of others, you’re screwing the slower riders and the group as a whole.
Important words worthy of regular repetition as we attract new members and as some frisky riders forget what this Club’s all about.

I continue to admire the line you stroll, Martin: between diplomacy and direction. Long may you reign. 8)

AJ Neale
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Re: riding in mixed ability groups (i.e., most winter groups)

Post by AJ Neale » Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:36 am

Bobby Orr, in a recent interview by Cathal Kelly in the Globe and Mail, stated that he would like sports to be more fun and less driven by results.

When he talks about what it all means, he returns repeatedly to the values of hockey, which, at their best, are indistinguishable from those of any prosperous community. ( Kelly )

In the words of Bobby Orr:

“Being a good teammate, being dedicated, being nice. People are nice to me and I try to be nice to them. That’s supposed to be how it works right?”.
“You have a level. I have a level. We all have a level. The level doesn’t matter. What’s important is that we go out every day and play at it.”

Just substitute the word cycling for hockey

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