Geraint Thomas, a World Championship cyclist and Tour de France winner, wanted to raise money for the National Health Service for Great Britain. He decided he could “work” a 12-hour shift doing what he does—cycle. He posted a GoFundMe request, telling all that he would do three 12-hour rides on the indoor cycling platform, Zwift. He encouraged others on Zwift to join him for two-hour “shifts.”
The reception was immense. There were several thousand cyclists on my “ride” with Thomas, also known as “G,” at the helm. It was fun to have such a huge peloton, especially since Zwift simulates a draft on group rides.
I was riding along with different levels of cyclists, watching some of the faster ones zip by. The riders can “chat” within the group ride, and many showed their support for G and their excitement to ride with a professional.
G had announced at the start of the ride that he would ride the first 30 minutes at 100-120 watts, which is a light recovery for him. After that, he would punch it to about 160, which is rather strong for me, since my power-to-weight ratio is 2.7.
Apparently, that wasn’t enough for some.
One rider posted, “You can still get a workout on this ride. I’m using Trainer Road as well as Zwift.”
The point of this ride was about supporting G, not to pursue personal fitness goals. It’s not always about competition.
Working out in groups can be fun as long as everyone is seeking the same goal. That’s the key—not everyone’s goal is the same. The ride or workout leader should state the goal of the workout before it begins. That way, if some want decide it doesn’t fit their goals, they can find another group.
For instance, this morning I decided to do a very specific workout with a group. Zwift tailors the intensity markers according to your level of fitness, so I knew this was going to be a toughie.
What would be the reaction if I posted, “I’m just going to ride easy this morning because I’m just not feeling it”?
Yes, I would imagine the riders of the group would say, “Suck it.”
It would be the same for a recovery ride. If everyone agrees that the workout would be easy, it would be selfish if I said, “Let’s push it a little bit.”
Group workouts are great community-builders. You suffer with others when it’s time to suffer, but you also socialize when it’s a social workout. Even in virtual communities such as Zwift or Zoom, you honor the group.
Sometimes you have to sacrifice your own desires and goals for the sake of community. If this doesn’t suit you, then it’s best to go at it alone.