Group ride sweeping, on a bike.
On the bike rally, and on other large group social rides that I’ve done, sweeping means riding behind the last rider. You can mark the beginning of the ride with the ride leads and the end by the sweeps. On the bike rally you even get special decorations for your helmet so people know you’re the sweep.
When you arrive, people cheer. “The sweeps are in!”
Here’s an older post about my day Sweeping in the rain.
On Zwift social rides there’s both a leader marked by a yellow beacon over the rider’s avatar and a sweep, marked by a red beacon over the avatar. But on Zwift sweeping means something different than just riding at the end. On Zwift, ideally you drop back behind the main group, collecting slower riders who’ve been dropped, and let them draft you to get back on to the main bunch.
You need to be strong to do this. Once you’re more than a few seconds off the back of a big group on Zwift you need to work really hard to get back on. Often the people you’re trying to help aren’t strong enough and then your task is helping them clump together to organize a second group. This has been my experience more often than successfully getting people back to the main bunch.
When I first started doing group rides I’d hear ride leads say if you’re feeling strong and frisky, don’t go off the front. Instead drop back and help the sweeps. It’s true that it’s a really good workout and you can feel you’re contributing positively to the group ride ethos.
I’ve started volunteering to sweep on our team rides and sometimes when I’m riding with other groups like the Herd. Here’s me with Karl. He’s got the red beacon which identifies him as a sweep. I’m the secondary sweep that day. That day he ran people who could manage it back to the main group, and I gathered the others into a group at the back. We chatted by text in the Companion app and by voice in Discord.
I like sweeping. It’s good to feel useful and play a role in welcoming visitors to our TFC community.
However, I also like sprinting through the sprint segments (our team social ride sprints and regroup) and you can’t both sprint and sweep. Likely, I’ll do a bit of both moving forward.
Wish me luck!