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Group riding average speed/effort compared to solo.

Im Bald OkIm Bald Ok Posts: 146
edited March 2011 in Road beginners
I know the question i'm going to ask has a lot of variables to consider and there is no definitive answer... however i will ask anyway in hope of accurate guess work and previous experience (maybe you've ridden the same route in the same conditions solo and in a group?)...

What's the difference in average speed and/or rider effort when riding solo compared to riding in a small group of say, 6 people?

Take for example this route i've recently done (solo) and the situation above. http://connect.garmin.com/activity/72119182

Posts

  • markos1963markos1963 Posts: 3,724
    Usually about 30% less effort needed when riding on someones wheel, as long as you are well tucked up(less than a foot away) Even better if it's a larger group and you're a few rows back.
  • alcystalcyst Posts: 10
    The simple answer is, it varies. The faster you go, the more important aerodynamics are and aerodynamics is what happens when a rider in front of you clears the way. Probably not much at 20 km/h, and an increasing impact over 30km/h. Factors such as wind direction effect the result. Sometimes riding in a group it is really obvious, cycling into a strong headwind there might be a heart rate zone difference being on the front vs being in the group. Or you are up front working hard, and THEY are chatting behind you, though you know they are no stronger than you. Cycling with a tailwind it can have no effect.

    I am more impressed by the fact that you did an 80k cycle through a populated area without having to stop (at lights) more than once or twice.

    On food, it is good idea to bring plenty. For 80km you could bring 2 bottles of energy drinks, and eat a bar or 2. Though everybody is different. For an 80km ride it often doesn't cost any time to stop and have something at the side of the road or in a convenient shop.
  • kevin69kevin69 Posts: 87
    on climbs and descents, i don't think being in a group has much impact.

    On the flat, i'd guess 2-5kph.

    I'm quite slow compared to the other people i ride with, so wanting to stay
    with the group gives me motivation to push myself a bit harder and go a bit faster.

    If you are the strongest rider in a group, it might actually slow you down slightly
    if you don't want to be at the front all the time.
  • Im Bald OkIm Bald Ok Posts: 146
    I would imagine climbing doesn't have any substantial advantage. Especially at the rate I climb at the moment :oops:
    I only ask because i'm interested in joining a club and some of the averages on the rides I'm interested in are 17/17.5 mph while I'm doing 16's. Can I get 1/1.5mph just from riding in a group?
    I've only been riding since late last year so go easy on me!
  • Omar LittleOmar Little Posts: 2,010
    Im Bald Ok wrote:
    I only ask because i'm interested in joining a club and some of the averages on the rides I'm interested in are 17/17.5 mph while I'm doing 16's. Can I get 1/1.5mph just from riding in a group?
    I've only been riding since late last year so go easy on me!

    In short - yes you should be ok.

    16 mph for a solo ride of about 50 miles after only taking up cycling a few months ago is pretty good going.
  • rc856rc856 Posts: 1,144
    I was in the same situation as you mate.
    I knew which club I wanted to join and their website said they had 3 groups with the middle 'club pace' group averaging 16-18mph.
    I went for a run with the slower of the groups to start with before going with the club pace group.
    My first ride was over 55miles in a group of about 20-25 and it was no problem at
    all even though the pace was 18-19 on the flat for long periods.
    There was no pressure on me to do a turn at the front so I could stay sheltered.
    When out on my own, depending on the terrain, my average would be between
    about 14.5-16.
  • Wheelie BinWheelie Bin Posts: 162
    markos1963 wrote:
    Usually about 30% less effort needed when riding on someones wheel...

    30%???!!! Do you often go cycling with Bradley Wiggins?
    I'm at that difficult age... somewhere between birth and death.
  • mattsawmattsaw Posts: 907
    markos1963 wrote:
    Usually about 30% less effort needed when riding on someones wheel...

    30%???!!! Do you often go cycling with Bradley Wiggins?

    It could be a lot more than that. I read a study a while ago that showed that peloton leaders or riders on a breakaway were producing somewhere in the region of 4-500 watts, whereas riders ticked into the peloton were only haveing to generate around 200 watts.

    Thte figures are for pro riders granted, but they'll still be proportional.
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  • VelonutterVelonutter Posts: 2,437 Lives Here
    If my mate and I go out for ride and I draught him, my heart beat drops by about 10.

    I'm told that one back from the peloton requires about 10% less effort and in the middle of the peloton it can require 40% less effort.

    Groups rides you can normally guarantee 1-2 mph faster, some from draughting and some from enthusiasm. :lol: 8)
  • furragfurrag Posts: 481
    I raced yesterday and sat in the bunch. 25mph was the average speed over 45 minutes, my AHR was 80%. Spent about 90 seconds above 85% MHR.

    While I could hold 22-23mph for 45 minutes, If I tried doing 25mph on my own, and I'd be up around 92% MHR and only able to last 5 minutes or so. I've found out the hard way from training rides that efficiently holding a wheel makes a huge difference - usually between staying with them, or being dropped!
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    I don't think 30% is too wide of the Mark. Wouldn't work with wiggins though - he's far too skinny to get any draught off. Now chris hoy
    - that would be a good wheel to ride.
  • colsoopcolsoop Posts: 217
    I think you will be able to do the club rides assuming you can do the distances they do at your current average speed.

    You will find riding in a bunch will allow you to exceed your average speed without putting so much effort in to it depending on how discliplined the bunch are.

    As a rough example i was riding with a couple of mates today and looking down at the data on my polar.

    Following the other 2 guys at 22 mph heart rate was 130

    Leading at 22mph heart rate was 160.
  • danowatdanowat Posts: 2,877
    colsoop wrote:

    Following the other 2 guys at 22 mph heart rate was 130

    Leading at 22mph heart rate was 160.

    that'll be around 30% then!

    It is alot, you can really feel it when you go from sitting in, to leading.
  • carl_pcarl_p Posts: 989
    Im Bald Ok wrote:
    I would imagine climbing doesn't have any substantial advantage. Especially at the rate I climb at the moment :oops:
    I only ask because i'm interested in joining a club and some of the averages on the rides I'm interested in are 17/17.5 mph while I'm doing 16's. Can I get 1/1.5mph just from riding in a group?
    I've only been riding since late last year so go easy on me!

    I was in a very similar position to you about a year ago. You'll be fine in the slower group.
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  • jibberjimjibberjim Posts: 2,810
    Whilst the 30% less power required to ride behind is indeed relevant. It doesn't really answer the question of different speeds in a group vs solo.

    Since it doesn't quite work out like that - firstly it's really tough to ride totally safely that close to a groups wheels on the open road, so most people will be further back saving less time and regularly leave much larger gaps whenever there's a hazard and then close them up after. Also of course the speed requires the person on the front to be able to fast enough to actually tow you along all day. And every time you change the leader you cost extra energy.

    My solo vs group rides are generally only worth about 1mph more at most. Even a well drilled 2-up 10mile TT that's all I saw, larger groups on the open road about the same but could certainly be faster if speed was the only goal.

    In reality if you're asking if you're fast enough to join a local group - just go do it and find out. Tell them you're prepared to be dropped and they don't need to wait and they likely won't be bothered at all.
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  • nakita222nakita222 Posts: 341
    It depends, I can go the same speed solo as I can in a group ride. It depends on the route and the groups aims and speed. If it is hilly, the group will break up, so you will not have an advantage plu you're going uphill, so there really is no advantage. If your the strongest in the group you will spend a lot of time at the front pulling, meaning no speed upgrade. If you're one of the slowest it will be easier to keep up though. so you will gain an advantage
  • kevin69kevin69 Posts: 87
    i joined a group 6 months or so ago: they all rode much faster than me.
    I can now hold on to the group on the flat, but they still drop me on long climbs
    or descents. A decent club will regroup after climbs and let you catch up and
    get your breath back.

    Everyone has to start somewhere.


    >I would imagine climbing doesn't have any substantial advantage.

    Being in a group gives you extra motivation.
    You'll try a bit harder to stay on someones wheel then you would
    on your own.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 65,425 Lives Here
    Don't underestimate the motivation that a fight to hold someone's wheel can produce. I've gone deeper than I thought possible trying to hold onto the back of a group that was patently too fast for me.
  • hammeritehammerite Posts: 3,408
    Don't underestimate the motivation that a fight to hold someone's wheel can produce. I've gone deeper than I thought possible trying to hold onto the back of a group that was patently too fast for me.

    same as Rick.

    One thing to be aware of IBO when riding in a group are the changes in pace. When you ride by yourself you are likely to keep a steady constant pace that you can manage, few surges, less slowing down in places, not as much accelerating out of bends.

    Whilst you do get the drafting benefit of group riding, the changes in pace can really have an effect, and at times it can feel like it's harder work.

    If you're feeling a bit more tired it's also a good idea to be sat in the middle of the group, not on the back, as you may end up fighting all the time just to hold on.
  • markos1963markos1963 Posts: 3,724
    Don't underestimate the motivation that a fight to hold someone's wheel can produce. I've gone deeper than I thought possible trying to hold onto the back of a group that was patently too fast for me.

    Agree
    Plenty of so called fast guys in our club who hang on for dear life at the back of the group during the ride(always seem to be taking on food or drink when it's their turn on the front :evil: ) Funnily enough their TT times are useless.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 65,425 Lives Here
    markos1963 wrote:
    Don't underestimate the motivation that a fight to hold someone's wheel can produce. I've gone deeper than I thought possible trying to hold onto the back of a group that was patently too fast for me.

    Agree
    Plenty of so called fast guys in our club who hang on for dear life at the back of the group during the ride(always seem to be taking on food or drink when it's their turn on the front :evil: ) Funnily enough their TT times are useless.

    Hey, I was never a 'so-called fast guy'. I was just a guy who figured I'd get more out of hanging on for dear life with riders who only had JUST enoguh sympathy to keep me turning away at the pedals.

    It worked.
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