Looking for the historical roots of competitive road cycling I go no further than Europe. My cycling experiences in Europe have been in groups. This is because there are many benefits in group riding.
I want to outline ways in which it makes cycling a better experience.Firstly: safety in numbers has good relevance here. But conversely we must also be aware of the dangers inherent in larger groups. The safety comes from being more visible and motorists will usually be more considerate when having to slow down to pass a number of cyclists rather than just one or two. But we need to stay left in consideration of motorists, no more than two abreast at times, and only single file at others.
I also encourage the groups I take through town to bunch up close together when stopped at lights so as to use less space and time to move through intersections. It pays for the front riders to signal whether it is clear or if a car is coming; direction of turning; and to slow when leaving the intersection for those at the back to catch up.
These all make the group more cohesive as well as safer.In terms of the training effect of group riding – you can’t go past the benefits of the faster speed, riding in proximity to others, and social aspect. Training at a faster speed; next to, in front of and behind others will help you to be familiar with the experiences of race day. Whether you’re with cyclists faster or slower than you; you will benefit from either being pushed, being patient or just making your ride seem shorter on those days when motivation may ebb a little. And of course you’re more likely to enjoy a coffee afterwards too!