Smartly dealing with level differences

There may be considerable strength differences in cycling groups. That can cause problems. The strongest can ride comfortably in a tour mode, while the weakest are already in a full-fledged survival mode. Being in survival mode and using your brains effectively is very hard to do. As a consequence, the weakest riders sometimes unwittingly take extra risks in order to keep up.
See also: Mindset and group dynamics

Help out
The fittest and strongest can lend a helping hand in these situations. Sometimes literally. And of course by keeping others on their lee side.



Smartly dealing with level differences
        the strongest touring; the weakest surviving:)

Help can take many forms, and is very personal. Some like to be pushed for some time, others do not. Some find it helpful to be encouraged (“Don’t you worry, you’ll make it!”), others hate it. You have to judge by the reactions what works and what not.


You can as a group help the weak by not letting them ride at the rear (where they are bound to wind up if you let them :)), but by positioning them at the front of the group. On the third, fourth row, for instance. They then suffer far less from the speed differences, and they are less prone to take the full brunt of the wind.

In any case, you help the weak by not entice them to do dangerous things. Stop for example as a strong rider when you yourself could still cross the road, but not the one behind you. Especially in larger groups (say, more than 50 riders) should this be kept in mind, as it is often impossible to cross a busy road as a complete group.

Sometimes different, sometimes together
Play with the power differences. If the stronger riders stay with the weaker riders,  it is sometimes too slow for the strong and too fast for the weak. No one will be happy at the end of the ride. Of course you could split the group in two, but the point was to have a group ride, as in, “single group”, right?


In mountainous or hilly terrain, it is common to wait at the summit. On the flat, you can let the group split up into two for a few kilometers, and have the stronger group wait for or cycle back to the weaker group. Or the stronger group takes a detour at the halfway point and catch up with the weaker group on the way back. Another possibility is to let the stronger execute a number of intervals at maximum effort, and have them join in recovery mode for the remainder of the ride. You can of course combine a detour of the stronger with interval training for the weaker, as intervals are also beneficial to them. The key point here is to find ways to keep it agreeable for all.
See also: Mindset and group dynamics

Even if you ride in an echelon, you have to deal smartly with the differences in strength.
See also: Echelons