That's the same around here. We usually have 2 or 3 strong riders. The easy rides average 17MPH, we can keep the people that only do 12 - 13 alone in the group.
#1-pace maker in front, must have experience, don't accelerate fast, point out things. We ride single file unless on open road, then 2 breast, shoulder to shoulder, no gaps, very close and take no more that 1/2 the lane. Horn beeps the inside guy holds line and outside person pulls in behind until safe. The 2nd person up front is a weaker rider wanting to do some work, they are beat they fall back.
#2-protector or Shepard in rear, they keep the group together and stop any gaps from forming. Also keep the front from taking off, yell car back, mover over, etc. Also if they are strong enough to push slower people up hills.
Wait at some stops for group. Start together, warm up a few miles about 14 mph, will finish 22-25 miles with a 17-17.6 average. Picks up to 18-20 once all are work together. Slow down the last mile.
"I've ridden for about 10 years with a group of guys from my area (a handful live in my neighborhood; others live nearby -- we're all buddies). We all have different experience levels and have ridden with varying levels of "seriousness" during this time.
That means some of us are stronger than others. But when we ride together, we always wait for anybody who falls off the back -- and even if some of us go a little harder at times, we don't do so ALL the time, so that everybody sticks together for the majority of the ride. (And, if the slower guys know that you're going to push it now and then, I think they actually feel better -- they don't feel that they're "holding you back" for the entire ride.)
At other times, the less-strong guys self-select an alternate, less hard, route as part of the same ride. They'll start with the other guys, then turn off and do fewer miles, etc. Again, that gives us all the chance to ride together, and for each "sub-group" to train with our desired intensity and course.
On the flip side of this is another local group we know of. Their m.o. is "all out, all the time." They pretty much do not wait for anyone in their group -- so, of course, no one even a bit less strong wants to ride with them.
The key, I think, is agreeing up front to a "ride plan" (we'll wait at so-and-so spot, or at the top of each climb, etc.), and sticking to it. Once the guys get comfortable with that, they'll be more willing to ride together (hopefully!)."
"Keeping a group of riders with varying abilities together is difficult, at best. I've coached at cycling camps quite a bit, and it's always a problem. We want to work on pacelines or other techniques, but herding a group of riders on open highways isn't easy and can be dangerous.
So it's best to either designate several groups based on ability or to let a larger group self-select on the road. The latter only works if everyone knows that that's the plan and doesn't get upset when faster riders vanish up the road."
I thought it might be helpful for you folks to add your two cents...? What "works" for you when it comes to group rides?
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