Bunch Rides vs. Structured Training

I’m focused on Road Racing and with today being the 1st day of summer the local bunch rides are starting on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

Was a couple of weeks into Build but was already substituting in a Saturday Bunch Ride which was approx. 3 and 1/2 hours of which most of it was endurance / tempo with a bit of threshold and VO2 Max.

My question is what are the views on the benefits of riding bunches Tuesday and/or Thursday (and Saturday?) which will be mostly tempo, threshold and VO2 instead of (or complementary to) a structured plan. Can you try to mix / match? If so, what characteristics do you need to consider to choose sessions?



The two key things I’d be looking at are:

Does the bunch ride mirror the structured workout in any meaningful way? Time at intensity etc?

Will the bunch rides aid towards your goals? Are there any additional skill benefits?

If you’re road racing, I’d say that drop rides or pacelines might be useful. Longer rides like the one you’ve mentioned are definitely great for building endurance but I think you’d be missing out on the time at intensity aspect.

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What’s a ‘drop ride’? Not heard that term.

If you can’t hold the pace and get spat out the back, you’re on your own. Hopefully there’s a B group following up that you’d be able to latch onto.

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Cool - yeah understand.

Thu Bunch (hour approx.) is a paceline which becomes more a race simulation in the final third and there are groups coming behind.

Tuesday (90 mins approx.) is more race less structured paceline.

Saturday is 60-90 mins at tempo / endurance, then 45 mins ‘drop ride’…then an hour endurance to get home.

In truth, they don’t really resemble the sessions…they more resemble racing :slight_smile:

If that’s the case, I’d say crack on. Sounds like you’ll get plenty of threshold work done whilst having to recover reasonably quickly :+1:

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Generally most build plans will have the shorter more anaerobic/VO2max oriented workouts early in the week followed by longer less intense intervals later in the week. So while I believe the right kind of group rides offer unparalleled benefits that help with racing that you can’t get on a trainer, your Tuesday workout looks like it will cause needless fatigue without gaining the adaptation of really important HIIT. If you can do a TR workout prior to and the ride and recover for Wednesday and Thursday then yes.

Thursday looks like a maybe but, I’d probably do a -TR workout prior to the ride.

Saturday looks like it has enough stress across the spectrum to be helpful.

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I have a similar conundrum. I bunch ride Wednesday and Friday mornings, and sometimes my Sunday endurance ride is also with the group. As a full time work from home employee I find I really need the social aspects of bunch rides more than anything else, so I find it pretty hard to drop them in favour of TrainerRoad.

We have a Wednesday morning ride which is mostly paceline at threshold or slightly above on the front, so quite easy on the back, with a couple of decent climbs included (regroups at the top).

Then Fridays alternate as either an all out paceline for an hour or a 45 min crit simulation at the local crit course (except we swap turns the whole way, no hiding).

I struggle to work any of the TR plans around these rides and my Sunday mental health endurance ride, especially since the only time I can get onto the trainer is late night.

Nothing really to add, just venting :slight_smile:

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It’s a good point you make…I’m an independent worker too and definitely enjoy the social side of bunches even if there is no talking.

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There are 2 main group rides I like to do - one is a hard pace 2 hour / 40 miles right at my limit that I find really rewarding. It mimics closest to a race simulation effort - and I have found the SPB plan to be great for it - mostly SS/TH with short surges of high power, then back to SS or TH. Social and bike handling benefits are fantastic.

The other ride is more social, no drop, gather points, with coffee after. On these days I usually do a shorter version of the indoor workout prior and/or ride to/from meeting point (30 min each way) with power targets.

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