I have been on the fence about writing this article for some time now. The thing about the fence is that people seem to love it or hate with little room in between.
I don’t really care to address specific use of the fence but rather the overall pros and cons and maybe, just maybe why if you are not currently a fan of the fence why you might change your mind. Here we go….the fence.
From my perspective, the fence exists to make group rides into…well…group rides.
It is an issue that new Zwifters get off the front with the people (aka fliers) that are not riding with the ride leader (aka yellow beacon) and then feel like they have been misled regarding the ride pace. Their fun quotient goes down, frustration arises and complaints follow mostly because new Zwifters don’t understand that the people off the front are NOT the ride leaders.
It is an issue that groups like the HERD go to great lengths to promote a sense of community, helpfulness and inclusiveness only to have it challenged by Zwifters wanting to do their own thing on a group ride. It seems almost silly the need to explain that group rides mean riding as a group. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to ride at your own pace. I just don’t know how that fits into a group/Herd mentality.
The HERD of all groups goes to great lengths to help people ride as a group. If you have any doubt about that, just allow yourself to fall off the back a little and you will discover not just one sweep (the red beacon) offering to assist you back to the main group (yellow beacon) but a HERD of sweeps, working in coordination and as a team to help you back to the main group. I think this alone sets Herd rides apart from all others. I have seen rides where there have been ten to twelve riders assisting the red beacon sweeping. There is nothing that compares to getting in the draft of five or six strong riders if you are trying to get back to the main group.
And by the way, if you are looking for a great workout on a group ride, come back and join the sweeps! We are constantly doing intervals that far exceed the average ride pace as we help others get back to the main (yellow beacon) group. You will get into great shape. That is a promise.
The sweeps are also awesome people. We joke, laugh, have lots of fun as we get our interval workouts and help and encourage others. Sometimes the best party is the back! We are team and we ride like one.
The Herd also provides Zwifters with opportunity. The Herd is always looking for people willing to assist as ride leaders and sweeps. The more the merrier. They allow you to get involved as much or as little as you like. I have been an assistant sweep for months which is a role I enjoy. To each his own.
So the fence might be your thing and it might not be. But the fence does serve a useful purpose.