Criterium Workout of the Week: Group Ride

group ride

The group ride is a training term that can span the breadth of the cycling realm.  On one hand it can be a t-shirt and shorts fun ride down to the beach.  On the other hand it can be a "fake race" that takes place on open city streets (empty) with no bib number but the vibe of a state championship.  Or it can be something in between.  We are going to reference the hard group ride for this workout of the week.

What makes a hard group ride a great training tool for a real criterium? Oh.... lots of things:

  • Drafting and peloton practice: Group rides provide an opportunity to practice drafting.  Drafting provides a significant advantage and is the fundamental basis on which all cycling strategy and tactics are based.
  • Peloton placement: Learning how to position yourself within a group, anticipate movements, and navigate through the peloton can be crucial race skills.
  • Speed and intensity: Group rides often involve riding at higher speeds and intensities than athletes choose to do solo. It's harder, faster and generally more fun to go fast.
  • Strategy and Tactics: Group rides allow you to practice various race tactics and strategies. You can try new things with little penalty for failure.
  • You can observe friends and frenemies alike, learning about their decision-making when under duress.  This can help you develop a better 'scouting report' for riders helping you to decide when to attack, how to respond to attacks, when to conserve energy, how to work with teammates and how to manipulate a group of riders.
  • Motivation and camaraderie: Group rides offer a social and motivational aspect to training. Riding with others can boost your morale, provide support, and make training more enjoyable.

However, it's important to note that not all group rides are the same. Some group rides may be more casual and recreational, while others may be faster and more focused on training. Choose group rides that align with your training goals and race objectives. Additionally, always prioritize safety during group rides by adhering to traffic rules, communicating effectively, and being aware of your surroundings.