Following on from last Saturday’s post regarding the changes being made to the M3/M4/Transition rides, it’s timely for us to refresh an article posted back in 2016 that would still appear to be current in its content and guidance.
As was communicated last week, there has been much conversation about particular aspects of some of our Saturday training rides, specifically the Main 3, 4 and Transition. The conversation generally revolves around expected speeds (average and cruising) as well as general cycle skills.
We have processed a range of contributions from people who regularly lead or participate in these rides with the aim of firming up a clearer view for all what is expected across this large cohort of the Club’s members.
Key Rationale for the Rides
Transition 2: “I’m just starting finding my way on this group ride thing, and excited about riding a bit further than I have been before. I’m still a bit nervous or unsure about what’s expected and about riding too close to anyone else.”
This ride is for people who have developed a base level of fitness and general cycle skills with the Development Group or may be returning from having a long spell off the bike. The group rides a shorter distance (approx. 40km) than the Main Rides and often at an average pace of between 22-24km/h. During the ride, the group may get up to a cruising speed of 28-30km/h if conditions like wind direction, traffic lights and roll through skills are favourable. It is expected that riders in this group will still be developing their group riding skills but will be able to undertake key manoeuvres like riding one handed while signalling or drinking, not surging off the front during a roll through, looking over both left and right shoulders whilst maintaining a straight line.
Transition 1: “I’m getting used to this group riding thing and am looking to take it to the next level; I think I need to start riding a bit faster to get my fitness up and really test myself. I’m getting comfortable riding in bigger groups near other people and feel I can contribute to the roll throughs confidently.”
This ride is for people who have developed a solid level of fitness and good cycle skills with the Development or Transition 2 Group or may be returning from having a long spell off the bike. The group rides a shorter distance (approx. 40km) than the Main Rides and often at an average pace of between 25-27km/h. During the ride, the group may get up to a cruising speed of 34-36km/h if conditions like wind direction, traffic lights and roll through skills are favourable. It is expected that riders in this group will have developed their individual riding skills and looking to firm up their group riding abilities at important times throughout the ride (eg: roll throughs; pace lines; hills/inclines).
Main 4: “I’m used to riding in groups and I want to ride for longer but not necessarily faster; I really want to focus on my endurance. I’m comfortable riding in bigger groups near to other people and feel I can contribute to the roll throughs confidently.”
This group formed out of the need to allow people to increase the distance they cycle, whilst maintaining the average and cruising speed of the Transition 2 ride. So, the key capability is endurance! As a rider in this group, you need to be able to rider further than the Transition rides but you don’t have to ride any faster. This ride is a great option for those wanting to step up their long range fitness while getting better at riding in a group situation. It must be noted that this is a “no drop ride” as there are no other groups going to be able to come along behind to sweep up any riders who fall off the back. This means that the whole group MUST show respect to the decisions made by the ride leader to either re-group and/or slow down the average/cruising speeds to match the ability of the slowest rider (see below on Choosing Your Ride).
Main 3: “This group riding thing rocks; I can contribute to the roll throughs confidently, I can hold the wheel tightly of my fellow riders and I can get up and over the little hills without getting spat out the back. My endurance is at a point where I can ride a bit faster and longer than I’ve been able to before”
Main 3 is about building endurance and riding faster. If you choose to ride with this group then you need to be able to maintain both the average speed (25-27km/h) and cruising speed (up to 34km/h) over a 50km distance. It is typically the last 15km that hurts the most and this is where we can run into problems if you have chosen the wrong group at the start. The other key difference with this ride is that it “may” be a “drop” ride where there is a Main 4 group following. If this is the case then the ride leader may make the decision that the majority of the group on the day can maintain a certain speed and that there is one, two or three riders that are struggling. In that instance, the ride leader will communicate to these riders that they are not able to maintain the pace of the group and that they may be dropped. The very strong suggestion will be that those riders “sit up” and wait for the Main 4 group to come along and then join that ride. If there is no Main 4 group following then the group will be a “no drop” ride and act as per Main 4.
We all have ‘good’ days and ‘bad’ days. So much depends on how we’re feeling and what we want to get out of our precious training time. Some people are after a social outing whilst others are up for a trip to Pain City. It’s important to keep this in mind when choosing your ride; you’ve come along to a GROUP ride and it’s expected that once you make your choice you conform to the expectations of the GROUP, not the other way around. If you’ve traded up too high too early, then it’s not really fair that you keep calling “Ease Up” and expect the ride leader to control the group to your pace if you’re the only one dropping out the back. Similarly, if you’re always on the front of the group and have the legs to maintain the average and cruising speeds ALL the time, then you’re probably ready to step up.
Above all, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE listen to the ride briefing so you know what the expectations of the GROUP are and respect the decisions and calls of the ride leader(s) on the day. It is not easy to control everyone all of the time. It may be that they have to slow the GROUP down to allow for the safety of a single rider as it may be unsafe or not in line with the group’s “no drop” practice. Ride leaders are trained to identify how the group is travelling as a whole, to pick up on any individuals who may be doing it tough (or riding unsafely), and to make decisions in the best interests of the GROUP on the day.
If you have any feedback or questions on this or any other aspect of riding in SPR’s group rides, please do drop your friendly training and development sub-committee an email at firstname.lastname@example.org