Ride Leader Recommendations and Checklist

Ride leader

 Five keys to a good group ride (Bicycle Magazine)

  1. Standing day and time. Being able to block off a time slot is key to attracting regular riders and magic.
  2. A faithful leader. People need to know that if they show up there will be some to ride with.
  3. A hard start time because after you’ve rushed out of the office to make the ride, nothing is more irritating than waiting around for laggers.
  4. Rain or Shine Policy – Consistency promotes continuity, plus riding in crappy weather makes for good stories.
  5. Post Ride refreshments. They seal in the good vibes.

To these great ideas, a couple more:

  • The ride must be delivered as advertised at the expected speed and distance to respect everyone’s skills, fitness and time.
  • It is the ride leaders responsibility to facilitate introductions before the ride and to assure that all non-Wheeler members review and sign the MCW release of liability form.
    • You don’t need a new form for each ride. Just continue to use the form until it’s full or signatures and then download and print a new one.
    • Keep the signed forms until the end of the season and then submit to the club president or secretary.

Why do we ride as a group? Because it is more fun!

The same Bicycling article referenced a review in The Atlantic  that “Research has shown that shared experience (both positive & negative) are more intense than solo ones, and that participants who exercise in groups report feeling calmer and happier afterward than those who exercise alone.” AND there is Safety in numbers!

How to Ride Sweep?

Riding sweep means staying at the back of a group bicycle ride, to make sure no one is left behind and to be their to help in case of any problems. On most rides you won’t have much to do but keep the slower riders company.

The wikiHow article presents step-by-step procedures and recommendations for how to ride sweep that I hope doesn’t scare away potential sweeps.

As the article points out, “If you are an experienced, responsible bicycle rider and prepared to handle basic roadside repairs, consider riding sweep. If you’re not comfortable with the added responsibility, wait, or ride as a “co-sweep” with another experienced rider.” It does speak to the knowledge needed to effectively help “lead from the rear” for any active outdoor adventure.

We do have a designated sweep for each training ride in May and June. Other rides have a more informal sweep arrangement.

Wheeler Group Ride Leader Checklist 

  1. Safety is Job #1
  2. Attend Wheeler rides as a participant to get a sense of the general pre-ride processes and safety topics, as well as ride  pace, timing, and re-group locations.  
  3. Arrive at least 15 minutes early to greet the riders as they arrive and gauge their level of riding experience. 
  4. If they are a first-time rider, introduce them to someone they can partner with on the ride.
  5. If riders are not Wheeler members, have them sign the waiver of liability form. Please print and bring a copy to the ride and keep for our club records. 
  6. About 5 minutes before departure time: Introduce yourself (ride leader) and have the sweep do the same. Make sure that the leader and sweep have exchanged cell phone numbers
  7. Ask each rider to introduce themself
  8. Describe the ride distance, pace, regroup locations. Remember that these are no-drop rides. It may be possible to have multiple groups (and speeds) if there are additional ride leaders and sweeps. 
  9. Regroup locations are typically where the ride route changes direction. If possible, make riders aware of these regroup locations prior to departing. You are certainly not limited to prearranged regroup stops and must do what works best for all riders. 
  10. Question time?
  11. Training rides typically have a short bike safety talk (2 min. max) before departing as a lot of new riders are not familiar with simple mechanical checks or safe riding practices. It is an opportunity to make new riders more comfortable with their bike and group riding etiquette.  Following are some  of the basics topics.
    • The greatest danger is often riding in a group. Be aware of where others are located and communicate clearly any turns or change of line (single or double file).
    • Constitution Trail is shared between pedestrians and cyclists. Ride single file in the busy sections of the trail AND on busy or narrow roads.
    • Bicycles and cars are subject to the same rules of the road. Obey traffic laws. 
    • We are not the traffic police. Do not go into the intersection to direct traffic. Wait at crossings until it is safe to cross. It may take a couple of breaks in the traffic for the whole group to get across the intersection. That is okay. We will regroup on the other side.  
    • Wait for red lights to turn green. This is a PR opportunity to show motorists that we do indeed obey the traffic laws! 

If you have other good ride leader and sweep ideas, please E-mail MCW... to add to the list.