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 thousands 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 structure in your training, but you have more fun in group rides, try the Team CLS This ‘n’ That Training Camp.
This event blends the structure of a training plan with the motivation and camaraderie of a group ride. It’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that!
“We run through a strict Training Program over several months, where we run through workouts that focus on the key phases of Pre-Base through to Peak,” says John Hodgson, one of the ride’s leaders. He explains that this allows riders “to get stronger and fitter, and hopefully progress up through the categories, as they complete these grueling but supportive workouts week after week.”
This ‘n’ That Training Camp is designed to help riders follow a progressive training plan in the company of attentive ride leaders and an encouraging group. Anyone is welcome to join at any time, though! You can jump in for some of the rides and not others, start in the middle, or follow the entire plan from start to finish.
- Schedule: Tuesdays at 18:50 UTC
- Length: Time-based, according to a planned workout.
- Pace: Depends on the workout. Riders pick category B, C, or D based on their ability level.
- Routes: Mostly flat to allow for a controlled workout, but sometimes hilly routes so people can test their improvements.
Team CLS takes a unique approach to structured training as a group. At This ‘n’ That Training Camp, everyone in the group follows a specific workout session for the week, tailored to different power levels for B, C, and D-level riders.
It doesn’t use Zwift’s group workout mode – you’re not tethered to the group or just focusing on a power number. Instead, CLS takes the normal group ride format and turns it into community-led training.
The workout format can be downloaded in advance from the CLS website. This lets riders know what to expect and follow along on the ride. You can also just follow the leader’s instructions. If you’re not sure what category to join, take a look at the three workouts to see what fits you best, or check the event description beforehand.
John and fellow leader Cristian Vuta write the workouts as part of a phased training program that helps riders build on their progress each week.
“We follow a set of phases as we move through the Training Program and go from Pre-Base through to Peak over several months,” says John. “Of course, you can join the programme at any time and still see improvements in your fitness and ability.”
There are no sweepers on this ride, but the leaders strictly follow each workout’s rest periods, so you’ll have time to recover between efforts and deliver your best for the next one.
“How often does a leader call for a 2.0 rest only to see the front still driving at 2.5 to 3.0,” John says. “This does not happen on our rides. If they push, we just let them go and focus on the team. We do not even moan about them, we focus on our job of delivering and executing the plan.”
This ‘n’ That Training Camp gears its workouts toward climbing and sustained power. (Another workout-based group, High ‘n’ Low Training Camp, is held at the same time on Thursdays and focuses on intervals.) Training rides usually take place on flat routes, but the final event in the peak phase is a long climb up one of Zwift’s big mountains! If you’re ahead at the end of the climb, it’s time to move up a category next time to get the best workout.
The next big mountain test is coming up on November 24, 2020, and the next training program starts December 1.
If you’ve joined a category that seems like it’s too much for you, don’t worry – you can always drop back to the one behind. These rides can see between 150 and 300 people each week, so chances are you’ll have plenty of company.
“Workouts will always be tough and must be structured, but it is the leader and the regulars that make our workouts special,” says John. “The support from everyone involved with the team comes across week after week, and newbies as we call them are welcomed with open arms. The more you give Team CLS, the more it gives back.”
“The leaders listen, not only during the event, but in everything that we do behind the scenes,” John says. “Our team’s ‘no big ego’ approach teaches people there will always be someone faster and fitter than you, often ones you may never expect. It is your focus and understanding of what is happening at the rear of the group that really matters, and what makes you a real leader.”
How It All Began
John Hodgson says the CLS This ‘n’ That ride has evolved a little over time, but its main purpose is still the same:
“The idea around This ‘n’ That was to deliver a leader-led workout, but also one that worked across multiple categories, so that riders could try and join a tougher group knowing they could slip back if it got too much and join the group behind.
It started with a B and C group only, but we now run a D category as well which has proved very popular not only for people new to structured workouts, but also those returning from injury. Many of our own regulars who have had surgery or an injury or even just some time out are using this as a route back on the ladder where they are amongst friends instantly. We always recommend you seek medical advice if returning from injury.”
(left to right) ride leaders John Hodgson, Cristian, and Gregor Nicodemus
CLS This ‘n’ That started with John “The Ferret” Hodgson, John “Blakey” Musumeci, Cristian “Shooter Vuta, Gregor “Saggy” Nicodemus, Davy “Chucky” Van Bossuyt, and Tony Brugliera. John Hodgson, Cristian, and Nicodemus still help lead the event today, along with many other CLS ride leaders. John says:
“Workouts are never easy, but the leaders would always be looking out for riders dropping off the back and squeezing every last bit of effort from them to hold the group’s wheel. This approach has not changed and has resulted in a wonderful pool of over 30 leaders who have progressed through the ranks you could say, who help support this workout week after week. All our leaders are committed to delivering consistency time and time again and many ride/lead categories below their ability to share our passion. Delivering consistency is key to any success but it is hard to achieve. Yes, we have structured workouts that we plan and issue out in advance, but that is only one small part of the process. The leader has to really want to deliver these with absolute precision to get the best from the riders, and the knack to flex these efforts depending on the group only comes with experience.”
Learn More and Get The Workouts
To learn more about CLS and its other events, and to download the workouts for the next This ‘n’ That ride, go to www.teamclscc.co.uk.