Sometimes I pootle, when with some mates it's all about trying to break/kill/destroy each other over any given part of the ride.
Personally I ride most of the time with mates who enjoy dishing out the pain some of the time, but some of the time we'll have a break or a natter on a bit of trail or road or whatever - generally finished off with an impromptu sprint for some unknown finish point.
When I started riding I was a touch on the tubby side and most excellently unfit, my mates would basically race each other up a climb, wait for me to arrive and do one straight away with me blowing out of my bum hole. Wind the clock forwards and I can do it to them now, which is nice & all down to downright basic competitiveness.
That's how our riding group sees it and we all enjoy it.
On one specific LBS group ride there tends to be a faster group and a slower group, everyone enjoys the group they choose to ride in, if its faster expect faster, if its slower don't expect it to be fast. Only one lad has thrown up in the last 12months