How to Lead a Group Ride
Since I started GirlRiders.net in 2006, I have lead approximately fifty rides, both girls only and co-ed. Here are some of the things that I like to do when leading a group ride.
Of course, you need to be prepared. Know your route or have it ready on GPS or your mobile phone. I like Google Maps, it is free, I can save custom routes, share with other riders and have my phone mounted to the bike to follow the directions. Before mobile, I would print the directions and tape to my gas tank, this still works great and you can bring extra copies for the group. Tip: Do a recon ride the week before, especially if it is a new route you created digitally, you don’t want to send a group of riders down a dirt road if that was not part of the plan.
Make it clear to those invited that safety is first, I usually post a link to the GR Ride Rules when I post a ride.
At the meet spot we spend about 15-20 minutes socializing and getting relaxed before starting the ride. It helps me feel comfortable knowing a little bit more about who’s riding behind me and that everyone brought the proper riding gear.
I do a pre-ride “speech”. Nothing too complicated, I just hit these few points:
- Ride your own ride, this is not the time to test your abilities. If the group is too fast or too slow, let the ride leader know at the next stop and we’ll figure out the best option.
- Pass in safe straight areas or while at stops. If you are far behind the person in front of you, consider waving on faster riders to keep a nice spacing in the line.
- Staggered formation in straights, single file in turns.
- Use hand signals – ( you establish and share what they are so everyone is on the same page)
- Signal debris for the rider behind you.
- Everyone is a leader, keep an eye out for the person behind you, if you don’t see them when you expect to, let the leader know at the next stop sign.
- Don’t follow close. Leave at least a bike length between you.
- Briefly describe today’s ride.
- Tell everyone to relax and have fun! That’s what its all about!
- Designate a sweeper. Someone willing to ride last in line so that you know when you see that person at the next stop sign that all is well. A hand signal such as a thumbs up works well.
- Make sure every one is gassed up and ready to go.
On the Ride
As the leader:
- Make sure you always see the person behind you.
- Stop at every turn until you see your sweeper.
- Judge the pace by the riders directly behind you AND how long it takes to the see the sweeper at a stop.
- Do not block traffic to get through a light or stop sign (tell the group this as well) if everyone does not make it through a light, find a safe place to pull to the side of the road and wait.
- If the ride is more than 100 miles, include a gas rest stop.
- If someone is not riding safely, speak to them at a stop and decide if they will continue safely, or if this group is not right for them.
Sometimes it is appropriate to do a sign in sheet with emergency information. For example, when we had one for a large group riding out of state.
What are some things that you like to do, or that you have seen other lead riders do that you would implement?