Chaingang / Training Ride / Fast Club Run group

Posted on
  • Over the last three years or so the club runs have got more popular and instead of having just one group, there tends to be three groups setting off. Depending on their availability, Edward usually leads the most beginner-friendly group on a relatively short and easy-paced ride (I think about 30 miles at 12-13mph?) and John the Pres usually leads a longer ride at a slightly higher pace (maybe 60-70 miles at 14mph?) which goes out, has a social cafe stop, and then returns. The ethos of both of these groups is that no one gets left behind. Then there has been the emergence of the 'fast group'. At first this was somewhat sporadic, as it depended on people not actually racing on that weekend, but as numbers have swelled this has become a more or less weekly occurrence. There is a 'LVCC Race Squad' group on Facebook where race plans etc. are discussed and some of the fast group rides are planned (to some extent) on there, but nothing terribly organised, just ad hoc. A discussion has started up about whether plans for the fast group rides should be more formalised. More to follow in the next post...

  • The fast group rides differ from the other groups in that:
    a) they rarely go via High Beach to do a second pick up at 9:45am
    b) there's hardly ever a 'cake stop', it's normally just three hours or so of continuous riding
    c) there isn't a 'no one gets left behind' rule
    The main reason for (b) (and to a lesser extent (a)) is that many of the people on the fast group rides are 'time poor' people with family duties, so they need to cram as many miles in as they can before getting home for lunchtime. In a perfect world, I would be happy to 80 miles with a lengthy coffee break somewhere, but it tends to be 55 miles with a brief roadside banana while someone changes an inner tube.
    Another reason for (a) is that it restricts you in terms of route. We often choose to go out to Navestock via Chigwell Row instead. We have been known to do a second pick up at The Castle in Woodford, though. Perhaps this could be formalised?
    The most problematic thing is (c), because there are invariably newcomers coming on their first group ride who want to try out the faster group. If those people start dropping off the back, you're in a bit of a quandary - do they know where they are? Can they get back OK? So then no one is quite sure what to do, things can get very stop-start, or the group fragments into sub-groups.
    The other question is 'how fast is fast?' There's a huge difference between 17mph and 20mph, but the group often ends up trying to accommodate people who want anything between these. The last couple of times I've been out on the group rides there has been talk of setting up a fourth group - a kind of 'faster than John's and no coffee stop, but not actually spending the whole ride in the red desperately clinging to someone's wheel' group. The other Sunday I ended up leading a de facto fourth group which detached itself from the back of the fast group at Navestock (via the cunning ruse of turning left instead of right) - this might be one solution? i.e. to suffer on the back of the fast guys for an hour and then break off?
    Another issue is choosing the routes. No one likes hanging around in the cold outside the Town Hall trying to agree who is going where. For this reason Ed has started to organise a meet up in the Wynwood Art District Cafe (just round the corner from the town hall) from 8:30 so that people can work out the plans over a warm drink. I must confess, I've never made it to the cafe, I struggle even to get to town hall by 9:00, so I've no idea how well this is working out.
    (more to follow...)

  • Here is the recent discussion on the Facebook group:
    "In the weekly debate at the town hall about what groups are going where and at what speed, do you think its possible to be a bit more organised?
    I was thinking we could perhaps formalise Jamie's club run routes thread on the forum in a table with reference, description, length, RideWithGPS link etc, and then have some kind of rota (maybe done a month in advance?). We could then could see where we're going and download the route.
    As to different speed groups, I don't know what the solution is to this. Maybe there isn't a problem, but we always seem to fracture.
    If we do start out together on a general 'fast ride', perhaps we point out a few LVCC people with the route that people can stick to, and maybe a broom wagon rider? If more people have the route on their Garmins, this would be a bit easier

    "how many people are going out at the weekends? I can certainly add some routes. Having seen other clubs they are quite specific about what sort of ride it is. We're not a massive club. So a slow one will wait for everyone newcomers etc, medium 28/29km/h will wait for people then 31-32km/h not waiting? These are just suggestions thrown out there. I think you're right it does need to be organized a bit better especially for newer members of the club or people wanting to join"

    "As to group speeds, it's already sorted informally isn't it? There's already a long and short ride and now there's the faster group going regularly, we have a fast group. Could just call them A, B and C groups and assign a ride leader for each."

    "Agreed, create a few routes first. have a rota (obviously things come up last minute). We used to ride at the pace of the slowest rider but people have got faster and slower. maybe have a Training ride and a fast group. fast group waits training ride stops for no man..."

  • My thoughts on these points:

    1) I'm very happy for more people to add their routes to the thread I started last summer to build up a bank of possible rides (in fact, I've been a bit surprised that nobody has added to it already)

    2) I don't know how feasible it is to organise a rota with routes and ride leaders decided a whole month in advance, not least because of the vagaries of the English weather, but it would be good to get things settled by Thursday or Friday each week so that this can be publicised via the main Facebook page. At the moment, Steve M posts the default message each week with the same reference to 'a chaingang', but there's no guarantee that it's happening or indication of the route / distance / pace - it would be much better if we could put this info out there.

    3) There may well be a case for two fast groups. A moderately brisk one (say 17-18mph) and brutal training one (say 19-20mph). Obviously this depends on numbers. It also depends on time of year - are people getting ready for the racing season or winding down for Christmas? All kinds of other factors kick in as well - some people might have race on the Saturday and just want a recovery ride on the Sunday, some people might be preparing for a lengthy sportive / Ride London and want to do a longer ride than just 55 miles, some people might specifically want to do lots of climbing or lots of sprints or through and off.... If this can be discussed and sorted out midweek, it would definitely be an improvement.

    Anyway, let's move the discussion here so that more people can take part...

  • Let me know how to add routes jamie
    I agree if we can add organize something by Thursday/friday and publicise it then that's the best way - we have a route etc. i think it should also be clear what are the responsibilities of a ride leader in different circumstances

  • Hey folks

    If it's useful, this is how Glasgow Green CC organise the club runs.
    Basically, 4 groups of varying pace, all riding the same route with only the slowest group having a no-drop policy.
    It IS very prescriptive and maybe too much so for some but it does work pretty well.
    Note though

    From the website:
    "We will split into STEADY, CHALLENGE, CHEEKY CHALLENGE and RACE PACE at defined and agreed points along the route, and we will aim to minimize the stops.

    Groups should contain between 8 and 10 riders.
    Steady is steady and usually sit between 14 – 16 mph average.
    Challenge should push your ability and sits about 16 - 18 mph average.
    Cheeky Challenge is slightly faster and is around 18 - 20 mph.
    Race Pace should be regularly and consistently over 20+mph

    **these are the averages you should expect over the course of the ride in the above groups and there will be sections ridden faster and some slower depending on road profile and conditions

    **Please remember to communicate within your group. If you get split due to junctions, traffic, roundabouts then get back together. If you get split as someone is dropping off the pace then that rider steps down a group, (or steps up if going through to hard)

    **If you need to ask the group to slow up, we would suggest you step down as you may be in the wrong group

    Please pick your group carefully and remember that all groups work together to promote group riding but steady is the only group that rides at the pace of the slowest rider and the other groups don't wait for dropped riders unless agreed amongst the group and riders on the night"*

  • Thanks Martin. I don't think that would work because our slowest group will always do a shorter route, plus John's group will always be heading to a cafe (while the faster groups don't have that restriction on their route planning).
    A variant on that - a looooooooooooong time ago (1989) when I was a teenager I was briefly a member of Bishop's Stortford CC. At that time they had a lot of active riders including some decent racers. There might have 30-odd riders out for the club runs and they split into three groups. All three groups rode different routes but (unless my memory is playing tricks on me) all aimed to arrive at the same cafe stop at approximately the same time. So, say they all set off around 9am, and all aimed to meet up at the same cafe around 11am, the fast group might have done 38 miles to get there, whereas the slow group might only have done 25 miles.
    Another club, Horsham Cycling (down in Sussex), has no less than SEVEN different groups with distinct roles and name ride leades - see the details here:­/index.php?option=com_content&view=artic­le&id=47&Itemid=65 I went out with them once a few years ago and it was well-organised, but they probably have 50-100 riders heading out each Sunday so it's easier for them to have so many groups.

  • Thanks for raising this Jamie. As you know , organising club runs is one of the things that keeps me awake at night.
    In theory we have 3 groups. The fast, 18mph+ group, John's group 15mphish and a breakfast stop, and my slow, new starters group which aims to be back in e17 by 1pm..
    Our problem is that we have too many routes and not enough leaders. We also have a fluctuating group of riders. Mind you , that's not always a problem as we can design rides around the needs and capabilties of the riders. So we are not as inflexible as some other clubs and we can take on beginners.

    So lets keep this debate going .

    One last thing, the idea of the club meeting @ the Wynwood Cafe on Sunday before the rides was to sort out the runs in the warm and the dry over a cup of tea of coffee. I think that's working but it would be great if more of us met up there first.

  • I think the bank of club run routes would help - probably only need maybe 6-8? 50-60 miles covering a few different areas and elevation profiles. All the gps files could be made available in a zip file pack, with matching short reference names that you can actually read on your Garmin. You could then just drop the lot on your gps to have ready, opening whichever one is needed at the start of the ride. Could always post specials on the Facebook page for something different.

    On the multiple 'fast rides':
    If both did the same route setting off with 2 ride leaders at the appropriate pace (one race/training, one 'brisk'), you could have a brief regroup point about 5-10 miles in where riders could swap between groups having seen what the pace was like for a bit?

  • This is a first - an actual discussion on the forum!

    David, am I right in thinking you've got some kind of premium membership of ridewithgps? You might find it easier to sort out the 'short reference names' than I did - I think I got there in the end, but it took me hours to sort out and I can't remember what I did now. If you're able to collect together the various routes and give them recognisable names, that would be really handy.
    Re: two fast groups on the same route at the same time - that might work. Or, alternatively, the faster of the two groups sets off a couple of minutes later - by the time they catch the slower fast group there may be some people who will be happy to take that opportunity to switch groups?

  • Yes Jamie, I'm happy to have a go at collating routes in the next few days.

    I suppose the main outcome of this discussion would be to try and produce a document similar to what Martin posted but for LVCC which people would hopefully see beforehand to give them an idea of how things work?

    We can have a few ideas to try out for the faster ride to see what works? All sound good in theory but the fundamental issue will be when numbers are low but people have different agendas. Can't win all the time!

  • Here are the San Fairy Ann leader guides...­/club-runs/leaders-guide-notes/15-club-r­uns/83-everyone-is-a-leader

    I thought they rather match the "LVCC" style.

  • Having had a poke about on the SFCC site it seems there's a wealth of good ideas and practice there...­/club-runs/the-groups

    Have a look and see what you think. They don't use maps but do use Audax style directions. They tend towards the analogue.

  • Jamie, As you know I am not out that often due to family commitments and am one of the slower guys in the fast group so I think sharing the route beforehand is a great idea and would take the stress out of the possibility of being dropped in no mans land. It may also not be too difficult to organise beforehand via fb or forum who is out and who fancies what speed and this be included in the FB weekly message. The idea of the fast group starting out together with an option to split could work well. Just needs the options to be discussed and possible leaders to be agreed upfront. Personally I enjoy the challenge of riding with the fast group and don't expect the group to wait (although you and others have kindly done so in the past) hence my recent purchase of a garmin :)
    David, I am not sure 10miles is enough for people to decide which group to be in. Maintaining a fast pace over 10miles with fresh legs is not always the issue. It's maintaining that pace after 40 or so miles which catches people out (me included). That's why I think a clearer understanding of the expectations of the ride i.e who is happy to wait (fast social) and who doesn't (training ride) is a good idea and it still allows us to set off together and gives us slower guys a chance to improve and get faster. Therefore in summary I think we should start by :

    1. Sharing a route, as per DV suggestions.
    2. Based on who is out decide what speed/type of ride people want.
      Just doing this will help align people's expectations and hopefully avoid confusion while out. This can then be relayed to any new comers who want to join the fast group on the day.
  • Good points, Huw.

    I agree with David that once we have worked out what the 'rules' are, we should have a permanent page on our website (which can be linked to each week from Facebook) outlining the etiquette/expectations of the faster group rides, then we don't need to spell it out every week outside the town hall.
    Also, settling on a route by, say Thurs/Fri, and then uploading it and publicising it will mean that (hopefully) most of the people on the ride will know exactly where they are going.
    As for the two fast groups thing - there are several different ways we could do this and a lot of it is going to depend on who is actually out on any given weekend. Another option I thought of (though this may just overcomplicate things) is to give the 'faster fast' group and extra 2 or 3 mile loop to do at the mid-point of the ride, so that the 'slower fast' group can overtake them - then we might all see each other again.

  • First attempt at collating club run routes here:­-Rides

    • I've tried to group them regarding their general direction.
    • There's a few that are pretty similar - namely NorthEast2&3 and the two Epping Hill ones (one is the 'All the Hills' route with the other a device of torture devised by Pedro)
    • Some are more flowing than others e.g. the west route through Hertford I included for variety is good once it gets going but is a bit slow and congested at the start.
    • Some are a bit more specialist (Dunmow for fast time trialling, Epping Hills for um..hills)
    • We could effectively have endless permutations, especially of the NorthEast ones. How many do you think we need? I would have thought 5-6 general rolling plus the specials (epping hills and dunmow time trial).

    All the routes are probably slightly messy regarding their start and end points. Once we pick a few, I can start to tidy them up.

  • Cheers, David. Barnaby (or User62031 as he prefers to be called) put a couple of his up on the routes thread yesterday as well - can these be added? He has his own route out of London which I've only done once, but I liked it. You know your Herts ride route (or 'West' as you've called it)? The only bit I didn't like about that was the bit in the town of Hertford itself, especially the roundabout where you join the A414 - is there any way of avoiding that?
    I don't think we need to restrict ourselves to rides all in the 50-55 mile range. There will be times when some people want to go further and I know various people have done rides out to the Blue Egg and back.
    On another note - if John is poorly and off the bike indefinitely, that will have an impact on club runs as there will be quite a gap between Ed's group and the fast group.

  • I've added Barnaby's. One was all the hills, one practically the same as ne1 (kept his cut through past Roding valley and Chigwell though), and the other is ne3 (which is very similar to ne2). All depends how many variations you want....

    I pulled the Hertford/west ride back down through Broxbourne as an alternative to Hertford itself. Don't know if it's any better but we can try it sometime?

    Also added my blue egg route and the one you suggested on Facebook for this week (NEast+Hills)

  • Thanks again, David. Yeah - I've gone that way through Broxbourne myself two or three times, it's the best way of avoiding major roads (you go over a bridge to avoid the A10). It's annoying how Enfield spills out into Cheshunt / Broxbourne /Hoddesdon - it makes it always feel like a pain to get into the Hertfordshire countryside, but you don't want to go to Essex every single weekend.

  • Post a reply
    • Bold
    • Italics
    • Link
    • Image
    • List
    • Quote
    • code
    • Preview

Chaingang / Training Ride / Fast Club Run group

Posted by Avatar for JamieF @JamieF