A note from Eric: I recently published a post about the best slow group rides on Zwift. Steve Clogg’s PAC rides were at the top of the list, so I decided to interview him and learn more about himself and the rides.
First, a little about yourself. Where are you from, and how would you describe yourself as a cyclist?
I’m based in the UK and have always lived around the Surrey area. I ride MTB bikes and don’t own a single road machine so my pedals will always be flat and skid lids will always have a visor.
Tell me about the slow rides you lead. When do they happen, how long are they, what sort of pace do you hold, etc.
PAC currently runs 4 easy-paced social rides covering the 1.5 to 2.3 w/kg range. Each ride is about 1 hour long and the only feature that varies is the pace. We also set a maximum flat pace on each ride where possible to control the group draft so the sweeper teams can operate successfully and help bring riders back to the group.
- PAC 1.5w/kg (1.4-1.6w/kg) – Great introduction to group riding.
Wednesday @ 18:30 GMT
- PAC SUB2 (1.6-1.9w/kg) – A true sub2 ride that matches its description.
Tuesday @ 19:00 GMT
- PAC Social (1.9-2.3w/kg) – Next step up but still at a comfortable social pace.
Thursday @ 18:45 GMT, Saturday 16:00 GMT
- PAC SUB2 v The Mountain (1.6-1.9w/kg) – Our longest ride at 90 minutes and the most popular. Why should all the faster riders have all the fun!
Every 2/3 weeks – Day / time can vary
How many riders have you been seeing on your rides lately?
We are hitting 300+ on some rides now, numbers have really picked up over the northern hemisphere winter months.
Some group rides on Zwift have been around for quite a while, while others are relatively new. How long have your rides being going? What was the inspiration behind starting them?
I joined Zwift back in December 2015 and soon realised the social side of the platform was its greatest feature. I started doing some group rides with PAC, SUB2, WSR and ZZRC and soon ended up helping ZZRC as a ride leader and admin. Then work got super busy and I had to back out for a few months.
Finally, work eased off again and I was looking for a new challenge that fitted my schedule. The PAC Saturday ride was one of Zwift’s longest running rides founded by Jonathon Lemon way back in the beta days. Bob MacKnew then took over the ride in April 2016 and created the PAC Facebook group. I then came aboard to help with the admin side. After a look at the schedule, we added a 2nd ride on Thursdays as there was not a single easy-paced ride for the community on that day.
A few months later we asked Joachim Taelman if he wanted to bring his popular sub2 ride into the PAC family, which he did, growing our group size again.
Next with Christmas approaching I noticed no one was offering mountain rides for the slower riders, so SUB2 v The Mountain was created as a Christmas special on Boxing day. It was a massive success so we have now added it as an event every few weeks.
Finally, Bob introduced a 1.5w/kg ride to the schedule as no other group was offering a well organised weekly event inside the ride module. Again, it was a huge success and several other groups have now added similar rides, so the Zwift community at large is the better for it. So well done to Bob, great idea.
Many group rides are run by a team–sweepers helping those off the back, different leaders rotating responsibilities, even others helping to advertise the ride, etc. Who helps make your ride happen?
We believe having set leaders for each ride adds consistency to the events and it makes it easier to run to a schedule. We do help cover each other and have a 4th ride leader in Tony Richardson to ensure we always have someone available. We also have a very large sweeper team, too many to name here and they do a fantastic job helping at the back and are the real secret to our success.
I handle all the marketing and Bob looks after the Strava Club as running a large group is a lot of work especially when you have over 2300 members.
Do you have problems with “flyers” zooming off the front of your rides? How do you handle that situation?
That situation has actually improved over the last few weeks due to the ride leader finally being removed from the performance filter Zwift employs. I noticed this problem months ago when our group sizes increased past 100 riders and the leader beacon would vanish if you were off the front or back. Also, messaging only travelled to the 100 closest riders, so anyone outside that could not see the leader’s messages. Recently I managed to talk to Jon Mayfield about the issue along with the other ride leaders. Once he realised what had happened, the issue was fixed within 24 hours. So now anyone off the front is not really interested in group rides, so I just ignore them.
Does your ride use Discord for audio communication? If so, how can folks get in on that?
We use Discord as it adds to the whole social side of the ride and it’s great for communication between the ride leader and the sweeps. It’s super simple to install the app on the platform of your choice and click the server join link. All our ride leaders have admin powers to mute members if they have open mics and are flooding the channel, so hopefully new users will get a great experience when connected to the PAC channel. We also encourage new riders to the platform to ask questions as it’s much easier to answer via audio as we ride along.
As you know, we’ve got lots of new folks joining the Zwift community. What would you recommend to anyone who wants to try your ride, but has never done a Zwift group ride before?
Join our Facebook group and ask any question you have there, we will be glad to help. Also there is this website called Zwift Insider that might have a few tips 😉
Zwift has come a long way in the last year with the event module, leader beacon, etc. What other upgrades could Zwift roll out to make your group rides even better?
There are still a few big issues Zwift needs to fix in the event module. First, is to display the event description when you join a ride, so riders know exactly what is expected on the event. Second is to remove the 100 rider filtering from the overlay so everyone can see where all the riders are in the event. The third one relates to messaging. Zwift did a great job removing the leader from the filtering so everyone can see the leader messages again. But this only works one way, so any riders out the back or front in events can’t message back, this needs to change.
Anything else you’d like to add?
It’s the Zwift community that makes our rides great and without their support sweeping, answering questions and providing feedback, we would struggle to run these huge events. Finally, thanks to Eric, Jon, Charlie and the whole Zwift team for providing us with this great platform and I look forward to see what is coming in the future.