Great Group Rides: PACK Social Ride

Great Group Rides: PACK Social Ride

ON January 3, 2020 by Zwift
About The “Great Group Rides” Series

Zwift has always been about connecting cyclists from around the world, and since early beta days volunteers from the Zwift community have helped make that vision a reality by leading group rides on the platform.

Nowadays, the calendar contains hundreds of weekly events, but we still rely on community leaders to organize and lead most of the social rides.

One way to show our admiration for these tireless leaders is to highlight the great work they’re doing, week in and week out. And that’s what the Great Group Rides series is all about! Each post focuses on a popular, long-running group ride led by community volunteers. We hope you enjoy this glimpse into the stories and people behind the rides.

If you want a steady social ride with support for beginners – but also some bite at the end – you’re invited to join the PACK.

Originally created as a morning weekend social ride for the USA’s West Coast, the PACK Social Ride now runs multiple times a week in the UK/Europe evenings.

According to ride leader Steve Clogg, the goal of the ride is “to have fun and provide the best beginner-focused, social-paced group ride on Zwift. The PACK is then released at the end and the party starts.”

Steve told us more about what to expect from the PACK Social Ride and its tight-knit community.

Quick Details
  • Schedule: every Thursday at 18:45 (UK time) and Monday at 19:15 (UK time), plus some Sundays over the winter
  • Length: around 60 minutes for most rides but uses a set distance due to the optional fun after-party at the end
  • Pace: about 2-2.1w/kg on the flats and 2.2w/kg on climbs, until the after-party which riders take at their own pace. Leader uses a mixture of w/kg, speed, and power targets to control the group. Sweepers help to bring struggling riders back to the group or keep them company.
  • Routes: typically the event-only after-party routes (flat courses with a climb at the end)

Ride Feel

“The pacing on our rides is always as advertised; when you join a PACK event you know it will be a good repeatable experience every time,” Steve says.

PACK prides itself on its predictable pace and its sense of community. Faster riders serve as sweepers, helping riders who are having trouble keeping up with the group.

Then, near the end of the event, the ride transitions into an optional after-party, where the group hits a final climb and tries to beat their personal best times. The after-party is not a race and it doesn’t have results. It’s just you against the clock, with some company for motivation!

If you join this ride, you’re highly encouraged to use Discord for voice chat. (See the Facebook group or ride descriptions for a link.) The group has been using Discord since it began, and the PACK channel now has nearly 6500 registered users. Regular riders have built a tight-knit community, forming friendships more easily through voice chat than they can through text.

Steve says, “We are always helping riders and the stories we hear on Discord make organising the ride each week worthwhile. Take Karen. She joined our 1.5 beginners ride one day and managed a lap or two on Watopia flat, dropped off the back then stopped, saying, ‘don’t wait for me.’ Our amazing sweep team picked up on this, and the next time it happened, they stopped as well and said they were not moving until she did. Pedals moved again, and with their support, she got further each ride until she completed the whole hour and finished with the leader. Karen then had a health scare, but new friendships made from the group helped her get through some tough times and out the other side. She now leads one of the PACK events and helps others and is a great inspiration showing what can be achieved with dedication and determination.”

Several members of the group recently met and rode together outdoors in the Peak District in the UK. Reportedly, as social riders, they really enjoyed the cafe stops!

Photo by Alison Jane

How It All Began

Steve tells PACK’s story this way:

“PACK Social, or the PAC Social as it was known, has its roots all the way back to the beta days when it was started by Jonathan Lemon as a US west coast early morning ride. Most events at the time had poor pacing, no communication, etc. (this was all before the event module even existed). We wanted to provide events that always kept to the advertised pace and were targeted for beginner riders, those coming back from injury or just a recovery ride at an easy pace.”

“I was lucky to be asked to help design all of the current after-party courses, working with Jordan Rapp from Zwift to stop the need to have to make manual turns at the end of PACK events to head up any optional climbs. This also provided courses for races that could finish at the top of a KOM, a feature which was missing before they were introduced.”

“The social rides have grown over the years to be the largest group rides on the platform and we nearly hit 1000 riders over Christmas.”

Ride Leaders

The PACK Social Ride has several leaders, but the primary one is Steve Clogg.

“I have the pleasure of leading the social rides for PACK and joined just after Richmond was released,” Steve says. “It was the first course I rode and I loved every pedal stroke of the full UCI course. I even got a cramp on the final climb as I was pushing too hard trying to keep up with all the riders around me (lol). I signed up in my late forties to help recover from a knee issue (which I still have, but is now under control thanks to Zwift).”

Steve doesn’t own a road bike. He uses flat pedals and spends all his time on mountain bikes.

“What I can do is hold a pace within seconds each lap, which comes in very handy when you have the yellow beacon,” says Steve. “Plus I never chase a wheel.”

Here’s what the PACK leaders say motivates them to guide a group ride:

  • Steve Clogg: “The community 100% and our extended PACK family. Without the social side of Zwift, I would have probably given up years ago. Leading, sweeping, providing advice and support and watching riders get stronger and fitter each week keeps me motivated every day.”
  • Tony Richardson: “It’s been great to help others develop from their first beginner group rides to established and strong PACK members who regularly ride with us and help others. Being part of a regular team who provide regular rides which stick to the advertised pace and focus on the group.”
  • Bob MacKnew: “Being part of a Leader team that not only provides consistent, on-pace ride leadership and encouragement to a wide skill range of riders, but also coordinates and covers for each other as if we lived in the same town.”
  • Joachim Taelman: “Knowing I have backup and support from the team when real life gets in the way (or a hill lol).”
  • Karen Jackson: “I was a PACKer in the 1.5 ride and loved it. I then became unwell and riding with the PACK got me through a particularly tricky time. Steve organised a ride for me to lead on when I was well again and I loved it, even though I was pretty rubbish!!!! (she was fantastic – Steve) However now I love leading the Saturday beginner breakfast ride. It gives me the opportunity to give something back to PACK for everything they did for me and I get to cycle with a great group of people.”
  • Stuart Offer: “I see leading and sweeping as giving something back to the group. PACK is a great community and is a privilege to lead.”
Learn More About PACK

For more information about PACK, visit the PACK Facebook group or join one of their events in Zwift.

Photo by Alison Jane