Group riding vs alone - NP/AP question

Discussion in 'Power Training' started by giannip, Oct 20, 2009.

  1. giannip

    giannip New Member

    Jul 7, 2005
    Likes Received:
    I hope I am phrasing this correctly.

    If a person has to complete a workout @ a certain wattage, is it more beneficial to ride in a group or alone, taking into account that the NP will be similar?

    The reason I ask is that if riding alone, the AP would probably be higher than when riding in a group. Now mentally it's probably a good thing to go out with a group every now and then :D, but as a workout, would it be more advisable to go out on ones own ?

  2. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    Likes Received:
    Well if your goal is to get out and do SST/Threshold work then it's almost always better to ride alone at least in variable terrain. If your group rides have sustained climbs where you can set your own pace (but then they're not 'group rides' are they?) then you can settle in and pace your own long intervals. But on flat or variable terrain it's hard to ride with a group and also ride at your own best pace. Sure you can sit on the front if the group lets you or sometimes newer riders can get just what they're after by sitting in but in general you're letting others dictate the pace and in most group rides you'll get a lot of junk miles sitting in punctuated by really hard efforts along the way.

    OTOH, if you're using the group rides for bike handling or if the ride is a classic local hammerfest it can be a great way to get high end short interval work and sprints. But if you want to own your training and control the quality of your workouts you'd probably be better off riding alone much of the time.

    FWIW I do at least 80% of my training alone but show up for the group hammerfest ride when I want high end work or just want to catch up with friends. Sometimes I'll train with a team mate or two as long as we're on the same plan but in general I avoid long weekend group rides and the junk miles that typically come from them.

  3. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Active Member

    Oct 24, 2004
    Likes Received:
    I train alone except for one day a week. Training with a power meter has been an evolving thing for me. When I started cycling it was in groups and have struggled giving up riding in groups to ride solo. I am finding what these guys like Dave have planted in my mind about training consistently is now changing the way I cycle with my group. I am at a point of compromising and have found my solution for the moment.

    I pick an IF goal before the ride and I give a cue sheet and a digital file for the gps users in the group if they want to break away at their own pace. I watch my PM to keep within the zone goal. There have been times when I have dropped the group because they were chatting too much, but 98% of the time I get dropped because the hammerfest begin later in the ride. I am becoming more disciplined of staying in my zone. On the last couple of rides I have noticed more people staying with me rather than chasing.

    The benefit that I get is that I do get to have at least 30 miles riding with a group before the antics begin and someone knows that I am on the road so if I don't come in a few minutes after them hopefully they will come looking for me while back tracking the route.

    It seems to me that it would be near impossible to do a good SST work in a group because even if they are disciplined I have yet to be able to control my effort if I am in a pace line draft or at the end of the group where there is a rubber band effect. I know each group is a bit different, but I like the way things are working for me lately and that is to ride part of the ride in a group and ride solo when things get crazy. I just to have to keep saying to myself as I watch the break away, "don't chase, don't chase,........":)
  4. doctorSpoc

    doctorSpoc New Member

    Nov 18, 2005
    Likes Received:
    it depends of the ride and depend on your goals..

    and there are different type of what i'd call hammer fests.

    1) you can have 2-3hr long very jumpy, uneven type rides where it is very hard to do SST training in... but why would anyone in their right mind go to such a ride to do your SST training anyway? you do that ride to get your higher end stuff/race simulation in.. you need to be intelligent about it.. do your SST during the week or an appropriate group ride.. you can just ride on the front all the time or something that other don't think about it is ride at the back but in the wind... but you do stand the chance of getting dropped if the group really gets going.. you're going to be much more tired that everyone else.. but you need to be disciplined and selfish and stick to your goals and get the ride in that you want to get in.. but like i said.. why make life difficult for yourself.. pick the appropriate ride to get the appropriate workout in the first place and you don't have to then try to shoehorn a ride into what you want to make it...

    2)or you can have very fast long 5-6hr rides with steady pacelines.. usually you have everyone participating at first then people just start taking turns off and you end up with just 3-4 guys pulling.. that latter type are perfect for doing huge, HUGE volume of SST.. you would almost never be able to do that kind of volume of SST by yourself.. sometimes on a ride like this i'm not looking for threshold or SST work and am just looking for an endurance ride so i just sit in.. you have to be very disciplined to not fall into the trap of just following what the group is doing.. if you can't be disciplined then you're probably better to just not do the ride.

    i have both the above kinds of the above group rides at my disposal so i'm kind of lucky that way..

    but it's pretty simple if you can make a group ride into what you want, then do it.. if you can't, then don't or do that training on another day or forgo the group ride 'til you want what the group ride will provide..

    the thing is that you will realistically need to do the vast majority of your training alone.. you just need that control and you need to be efficient with your time. but group rides, if you are disciplined and use them appropriately can be great to simulate racing, do high end training or get huge volumes SST or endurance training in (if appropriate ride chosen and ridden appropriately) that would be very hard to do by yourself..
  5. eLTrain

    eLTrain New Member

    Sep 25, 2009
    Likes Received:
    +1 too everything above. well said.

    One thing to add: if I'm looking for SST work, what I'll do is start the GR, pull @ 93% for instance for 25', the peel off and turn around, riding home @ 87% for 30'. A solid SST session.... if not a very unsocial group ride. :/

  6. SolarEnergy

    SolarEnergy New Member

    Aug 15, 2005
    Likes Received:
    some group rides I participate in often feel more like unofficial races, with predefined sprints. The guys in the front are pretty strong riders (P12 level) and to tell you the truth, being in the first 5 riders when the pace is up is very challenging.

    I use these opportunities to see how much risk I can manage to take (referring to burning matches here). The post ride file analysis is always very fun, with bunch of efforts at all levels etc...

    For sure, when comes to working focussed SST or FTP etc, I prefer riding alone but for me, group rides are far, very far from being junk mileage.