How best to prioritize weekly group rides without structure and consistency of my indoor plan?

I am currently (supposed to be) on the turbo 5 days a week in the evening after work, training for my A-Race at the end of October. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

Now the weather is cooling down here in Arizona, the group rides are back on. The primary problem is each group ride has its purpose (Hill drills on Sunday, Chill group ride on Tuesday (sometimes crit practice), Spirited group on Wednesday etc.) that doesn’t really align with anything that Adaptive Training recommends in terms of structure, and even will throw off my ability to complete a scheduled workout leading to skipped days, and inconsistent “Trainer Road approved” training schedule.

My concern is that if I slip into one or two of the group rides a week, that I will not see as much of improvement in my progression levels as I would if I stuck to the prescribed workouts.

For context, in just over six weeks, my FTP was brought up from 221 to 235 (6 foot, 3.05w/kg) with a third of those workouts being unstructured outdoor events.

  • How important is it to have a consistent m-f schedule?

  • Does it matter what day of the week workouts are completed?

  • How do you decide it is ok to replace a structured indoor ride with a non-focused group ride and maintain progression and outside skills as they pertain to my intended Crit racing discipline?

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I find the main thing is to manage fatigue. So you want to be consistent m-f in as far as you want to balance your hard rides through the week. And which day of the week workouts are on is important as far as how much fatigue you carry into each one. So if you have Sunday off, Monday is a good day for a key intensity day. But if you had a hard Monday, you probably don’t want to move another hard day to Tuesday.

I think it’s fine to swap out a structured ride for a group ride, but it’s probably good if they are vaguely similar. Swap long intervals for a day with long climbs for example. Again, watch your fatigue, don’t swap one hour easy on the trainer for a hard day in the hills and expect to do the next day’s planned hard interval day.

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You might want to scan through the indexes of the old podcasts. They’ve talked about it in depth a few times. My main take-aways were:

  • It’s okay to add an unstructured group ride to your training plan as long as it doesn’t prevent you from successfully completing your scheduled workouts.
  • It’s usually better to do a lower volume plan + unstructured rides than to do a higher volume plan and replace plan rides with unstructured rides.
  • Most of the weeks in the plan will have hard days and light days. If you’re going to replace structured rides, make sure you hit your planned hard days.

Your mileage may vary, and there was a lot more discussion, but it seemed to me like these were the key points.


Figure out what you can handle. I do crit practice or a punchy group ride on thursday (vo2-ish). I do 4-5 hour hard group ride saturday. That leaves me 1 or 2 days I can add structured intervals and the rest is endurance or recovery or off. If I add a third hard group ride it means I’m skipping intervals that week. I can’t do more than 3 hard days a week unless I have a plan to be dead for a while after. Fitness still improving. But I’m only ~1 year in and haven’t hit my ceiling yet, so ymmv.

P.s. Arizona, you say? Sign up for the BR crit. And Avondale.

Are you supposed to be? You can’t be doing intervals 5 days per week. At some point you just have to decide what you want to do.

You can probably follow a progression of a couple of workouts per week, do a group ride and then an endurance ride or two thrown into the mix. The Chill group ride could maybe sub in for an endurance ride. If you wanted to do the Spirited ride, you might have to sub out a hard trainer workout.

Balancing group rides with structured workouts can be tough to balance but definitely doable!

How important is it to have a consistent m-f schedule/Does it matter what day of the week workouts are completed?

Consistency is key! Consistency over time is what will get you the best results.

We generally recommend having about 3 hard days per week – more than that, and you’re likely to experience excess fatigue.

In your Medium Volume plan you have loaded up at the moment, that typically looks like 2 hard days during the week with a low-intensity ride slotted between, then a 3rd hard workout on Saturday with a moderate session on Sunday (which we encourage replacing with a longer low-intensity ride if you have the time).

It doesn’t necessarily matter which days of the week you do your workouts, but it’s often a good idea to space out your harder sessions so you have recovery between them, allowing you to hit them as hard as required.

How do you decide it is ok to replace a structured indoor ride with a non-focused group ride and maintain progression and outside skills as they pertain to my intended Crit racing discipline?

If the group ride/race you’re doing in a given week is hard, we’d advise replacing one of your hard workouts for the week with that ride/race.

The hard reality here is that you’ll have to prioritize what matters more to you – the fitness you may gain from your structured workouts, or the skills/socialization/fun that come with group rides/races. As you approach your A race, your training sessions focus more and more on the power you’ll need to sharpen for your goal event coming up, so we’d recommend really focusing in on the workouts that will reflect the fitness you’ll need to hone for that.

At the same time, skills and confidence is a huge part of crit racing, so you can certainly still benefit from group rides and races! The training stimulus you’ll get may be less than if you did a structured workout, but depending on the course, the other riders, and how you yourself ride, you can still get a solid workout in. Cleaning up your technical/bunch riding skills is a good idea before you get to your A race as well. I think it would be a good move to get some of those rides/races in, but don’t replace 100% of your structured work with them.

Hopefully that’s helpful info for you! Feel free to let me know if you have any other questions.


TR Mid Volume has 5 days booked. I can’t see what effort level it has me doing each day, but it seems to be Difficult, Easy, Difficult, rest, Difficult, Moderate, Rest.

I’ve already signed up for Avondale (its my A race lol) and Kino at the end of the month. Whats the BR ride?

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You should make a bot that posts this to every “group ride vs. structured workout” post. :grin:

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The truth is, if you prioritize workouts rather than social rides, you might miss the latter in the future, and it’s a ideal lead in for burning out.

I changed country 2 years ago, and I remembering focusing in training schedule while missing fun rides with some friends, guess what? Yes, I regret!

Do your workouts, focus in your event, but above all remember, riding a bike must be fun and pleasant, being stuck on a indoor trainer following blue bars aren’t exactly enticing.

I understand that performing well is nice, and I’m also want to. So, as you said, there are some good options to replace a workout for a group ride. Swap a workout with something vaguely close is fine.

I have half of my best numbers (and sustained power) from rides we do on Wednesdays.


Good! (BR = Bicycle Ranch – which is the one at Kino.) See you there.

FWIW, with mid volume, I find long threshold intervals to be the hardest to repeat outside so I do those on the trainer. Vo2 I will do on the trainer if I have to, or sub a (hills) group ride. Sweet Spot I do outside or sub a group ride (unless the weather sucks), and all endurance I do outside, usually for much longer than TR recommends. Just because you have a TR workout scheduled doesn’t mean you are “supposed to be” on the turbo… especially for endurance when (if?) the temps start staying under 100. Trainers are torture.

Just replace a TR workout with a group ride, 1 to 1. It’s better to have fun on your bike than train indoors. You wont be any better or worse for your ride in a month if you do this, so don’t stress about it


On my side after doing 2 blocks of a HV plan only on the trainer, I started to miss my Sunday group ride a lot and decided to give a shot to a MV master plan. That way I’ll have 2 hard interval sessions (Sweet Spot / Threshold or Vo2 max / Threshold), 1 easy and 2 endurance ride, and my 4h+ group ride on Sunday where it’s a mix of endurance/sprint/climbing with sustained power.

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This! Burnout is real. It needs to stay fun