Which group would you ride?

would you ride in a slower group to gain skill be in the middle of the pack with people slower than you/newbies or would you ride in a slightly stronger group where you will most likely at the back… always on the edge trying not to get dropped?
just polling for opinions i feel that if you ride with a stronger group you may get fitter because you are out of your conform zone. but may it be counterproductive to be always on catch-up mode?

I think the second option is one of the reasons why a lot of people complain about group rides not mixing with their structured training.

I’d say mostly the slower group where you can spend time on the front as desired and jump in with the fast group every now and again as it aligns with your training.


the slower one for my easy z2 rides
the faster one to work on my intervals

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I’d ride in the middle one. It’s incredibly frustrating to be in the back of a pack with the constant yo-yo effect. When you feel strong, ride in the front and pull. Once you’re strong enough that you’re pulling more than you’d like, move up to the stronger group and sit in the middle

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A lot depends on you. I like to be challenged. I ride with a harder group during the summer (most riders 20-30years younger than me) and always get dropped but its on a circuit and its usually just on the last lap, that may be frustrating for some though. I also ride with an intermediate group who are my age and also ride comfortably hard. I also ride with a 3rd group which is variable and I’d get bored of my t1ts with a group that I was having to hold back for all the time. Sometimes I have to hold back for the latter group but they are a great social crowd so I don’t really mind, especially having already had my intensity and if I really want a workout I’ll just do more on the front.

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My opinion…The most important aspect of group rides, whether a true group ride or drop ride, is knowing how to ride around others safely and predictably. This takes some experience. Some take to it quickly and others never seem to get it. Swallow your pride and ride with a slower group and learn how to ride around others first. After some experience use faster group rides to test yourself and your fitness.


One pint not mentioned (leaving the fitness benefit aside) is that there is a difference between bike handling skills required in a slower group than in a faster group.

Trying to hang on a wheel in a group when it is balls-out and your tongue is in your spokes is WAY different than comfortably riding in a group (even if you are doing the work). Knowing how and where to position yourself, anticipate efforts, climbs, corners, changes in wind direction, etc. when you are on the verge of cracking are valuable skills.

IMO, you need both.


I believe that if you can stay in the fast group for at least part of the ride, you are going to gain more fitness and probably more bike-handling skills from that ride. Yes, you’ll gain some pack skills in the slower group, but when the speeds are slower and you aren’t on the rivet, it’s much easier to navigate the group and thus perhaps less relevant to a competitive environment.

I do both types regularly, but on the slower rides I particularly value the camaraderie.

On the other hand, if getting dropped is demotivating to you, then by all means look for an occasional ego boost of being the fast rider in the slower group.

When I was new to group rides I started with the no drop/easy ride to get used to things, then once I was comfortable I started spending a lot of time pulling the group so it would be more of a workout, then I switched the the faster group.

There is another aggressive/fast group ride near me but I usually don’t ride with them the whole time because it doesn’t feel safe and I’ve seen multiple accidents in the group, one that ended up with a broken collar bone.

I’m not a social person, so neither.

Back when I was social, I only rode with slow groups. Fast groups always tended to be full of sketchy people with egos.

Do both depending what you’re looking to get out of it. I personally find that many skills like cornering or working smoothly in a rotating paceline are best worked on when you’re not on your physical limit and struggling just to hold on. Also good to have group riding options for when you’re due for a steadier ride or on a recovery week. But there is also skill in just learning to survive with stronger riders - how to do a short turn and get off the front quickly before you blow, sag climbing a hill, where the best draft in a group is depending on where the wind’s coming from, learning how to smooth your power out when the pace is high by anticipating rather than having to react, etc. Plus of course the fitness benefits of going harder (assuming it’s an appropriate dose as part of a plan).

Also depends what kind of riding the groups are doing and what the etiquette is? I.e. If it’s a flat out drop ride vs a steady ride that stays mostly together, or one which is steady on the flats, attack the hills, regroup on the descents, etc.

Ride with the fast group until you get dropped, then roll with the slower group when they catch up to you.

It all depends on your goal of the session. If I want to do some pulls to get some “training” in. I’ll roll with the slower group. Sometimes I’ll do what I said above, try to roll with the fast guys until I get dropped. Then enjoy the rest of the ride with the slower group. The slow group doesn’t help handling when going fast but can get you accustomed to being surrounded by people while cycling.

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If you get to a point where drafting at the back of the fast group is easier then I would go with the fast for safety reasons.

What skills do you want to work on? Pack riding skills and being able to read other riders, or do you need to focus on high intensity efforts? Riding one ride this week doesn’t preclude you from riding the other ride next week,

Mine isn’t quite either/ or, but I generally don’t go with the race group, for whom a lot of them it’s a key workout. Personally, I prefer to do my work during the week and a slightly easier overall pace at the weekends. The top social group has generally more interesting routes, and still the opportunity to push on some hills if you want.