THE IMPORTANCE OF A GROUP RIDE IN A TRAINING PLAN

The core of every cyclists technique, skill & efficiency are built on a good functioning group ride. When I began cycling I was immediately thrown in to Saturday & Sunday group rides with riders well above my standard at the time. For my first 2/3 years cycling and each weekend I went out there was at least 3 or 4 riders out with the club training that were racing with the Irish national team or at A1 level in Ireland. In that sense I was very lucky to be surrounded by riders of such a high standard right from the beginning and part of clubs (Donamon & Shannonside) in my early days with great group riding etiquette. Is this NECESSARY? Do you need riders of such a level to achieve such a good group ride? Well, NO, definitely not.

The most important part of a good group ride that has a positive influence on a training plan, is the functionality of the group. Not just the standard of each rider in the group (that comes last) but the etiquette, experience & respect of the group as a whole. Every club in the country can have a good functioning group ride. What matters most is unity within the group and leaving measuring tapes in your back pocket until at least 1/2 way through the ride, e.g. after the coffee stop.


From my experience of coaching over the last few years, completing coaching courses and both training/racing with different clubs and teams both at home and abroad. I have found that sweetspot for a good functioning group ride but also the tipping point that can piss people off and make cyclists ride harder/slower etc. The last thing a leisure cyclist wants when you go out for a big Sunday ride with your club is to be put under constant pressure from one of the racing guys right from the first 5km because he/she has 'efforts to do'. No one cares whether you get your efforts done or not, same as in a racing team. Everyone should be singing from the same hymn sheet. This should be done in a quick 2 minute briefing right before the ride starts. Any riders I coach, (leisure or racing) I always have a Sunday club ride scheduled in as part of their training each week. In my eyes it is vital, more so in the winter when there is no sportives/racing on a Sunday.


Let's have a look at how a club ride can be run so that leisure riders and racers can mix together and find a happy medium....


THE PUNCTURE

Here's me getting a puncture on tubs 100km from home on a 230km ride #luvely

We've all been in this situation or seen someone have a puncture on a group ride. What happens in this situation in a poorly organised/experienced group ride?

Number 1, someone screams the house down and most riders in the club listen up. The rider with the puncture stops, another 2 or 3 riders will 'give a hand' and the majority will pull up about 100 metres down the road in the land of nowhere. While some will continue to ride on. Now, let's think of how much of a mess this can be. A puncture takes 5 minutes to get, fix and be back on the bike again. But it can ruin a ride for a poorly functioning group and cyclists with no respect for the punctured rider. What way does a good club or pro team (without support vehicles) on a training ride deal with this ?

Simple, the rider still shouts 'puncture' and stops, if the person at the front of the group didn't hear that then another rider in the group goes to the front of the group and explains that. The WHOLE GROUP stops. What's 5 minutes ? You're not going to freeze to death, you're not in a race and for the love of god you don't need to leave the cyclist behind and split the group for the rest of the ride.


HALF WHEELING


The face on the lad in blue and yellow is anyone being half wheeled

You know the story. We've all complained about it at some stage behind the other riders back. Yet.. we've all done it and we bloody love doing it when we feel good, isn't that right!? In all seriousness this is one of the most annoying things on a group ride. So, who's right ? The rider who is half a wheel ahead and holding strong or the rider who is fit to kill half a wheel lengths back? I think the only time the rider who is half a wheel ahead is right is when there is a crosswind. Also 99% of the time that rider isn't thinking about a crosswind. They're thinking about pure hardship. The best thing to do in that situation is to ease of slightly and let the cyclist continue to ride on, they will quickly see that they may be going too hard and will back off. I think it takes a bit of common sense, I mean riding a bike isn't too complicated. Go on any good club ride and you will instantly see how it is so smooth and no one gets dropped for the majority of the ride, because no one half wheels and that is a big factor in riders getting dropped on sunday club rides.


THE SUNDAY CLUB RIDE DEFINES YOUR LOCAL CLUB


Behind every good club is a great club ride. Of course there are more elements to a great cycling club, but ultimately it will show on a Saturday or Sunday when you go out for a club ride. The good clubs will look out for their members. Small things are noticed on a good club ride. The leader(s) of the ride will pick a suitable route for the level of riders out on that particular day. They will ensure no one gets dropped so far back that everyone has to slow up, but rather ensure the group slows up before it gets too late. Everyone will stop when someone get's a puncture. The main thing of a good group ride? .. The craic will be ninety and each cyclist will go home knowing they had a 'good ride'. Jesus.


Anyway that's another blog post wrapped up, I'm always up for a chat about cycling and the craic that goes with it. If you have any questions just send them on and I'd be happy to answer them.

Otherwise if you're interested in coaching you're in the right place. Check out the packages available on this website in the Plans & Pricing section. I'm currently doing a 'Winter Training Plan' that covers all areas from strength training both on and off bike to nutrition.

Join our Strava club ZNDcoaching below for tips, training & more.

Cheers, G



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