QUESTION: I ride mostly alone due to my hectic schedule. When I join a group they start too fast. I expend so much energy trying to keep up in the first few miles that the rest of the ride is a struggle. Also, I seem to be a “tweener”– too fast for slow groups, but too slow for fast ones. How can I remedy these problems? — Jeffrey S.
COACH FRED: I know what you mean about group rides that start too fast. There ought to be a law that mandates easy spinning for 15-20 minutes at the start of every ride. But often someone charges out of the parking lot in the big ring, and things deteriorate from there.
Short of imposing an “easy start” law on your friends, the best solution is to start riding 15 minutes early so you can warm up before meeting the hammers.
Spin easily for five minutes, then gradually increase your cadence and gearing every minute until you’re making a “brisk” effort and starting to sweat. Back off for a minute, then do two short sprints at 90 percent effort with a minute or two of spinning between each.
Now you’ll roll up to the group with your blood flowing and your muscles warmed up. You’ll have a much better chance of sticking with the fast starters.
As for finding a compatible group, lots of riders seem to share your problem. It makes me wonder why so many “tweeners” don’t gravitate to their own group!
I think that if you solve the warm-up issue, the fast group won’t be too fast for you. Or, you might suggest that it split in two, with a mid-level pack leaving a few minutes after the folks with fire in their eyes.
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Alex Pline says
We have this problem in our “Tuesday Evening World Championships” and what we have done is to get the “tweeners” (aka the “B” or even “C” groups) to have a regroup spot after the first hill where things typically break up. Rather than having onesey/twosey groups scattered all over the course, plan a regroup spot where dropped riders can coalesce into a more sane group. Faster riders in that group can pull more and start attacking later to push the slower riders. But it’s important that riders in the group(s) keep pushing everyone in the group so people continue to get better, which is the point of these training rides. A nice tempo ride is not what these kinds of things are.