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Old 08-13-11, 06:19 PM   #1
chefisaac
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Opinions Welcome: What makes a good ride leader?

We did a ride today and I was the ride leader. Learned a lot.... things I should have done and not should have done.

So I wanted to ask.... what makes a good ride leader to you?

Last edited by chefisaac; 08-13-11 at 07:24 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 08-13-11, 06:31 PM   #2
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We did a ride today and I was the ride leader. Learned a lot.... things I should have done and not should have done.

So I wanted to ask.... what makes a good ride leader to you?
I think you did fine.

A good ride leader sees that the people on the ride have a good time. That means planning an interesting ride and keeping problems under control as they arise.
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Old 08-13-11, 06:38 PM   #3
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One who makes sure everyone is on the same page as far as goals, planning, etc, and who makes sure his followers are safe & enjoying the ride.

One who does not look down on anyone in the group.
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Old 08-13-11, 06:40 PM   #4
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What do you feel should not have been done or could have been done better? I personally think you did a great job, Everybody had fun, Everybody stayed safe, and noone got dropped.

Oh wait, that's right don't let my GPS figure the route!! lol
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Old 08-13-11, 06:46 PM   #5
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Things I would have done different:

-Have a solid plan of where to eat and add that to the que sheet
-Would have wanted to make sure everyone was together. I know it might not have seemed liek a big deal but when I think about it, it was a big deal to me.
- Would have a better idea of where to go after the ride (ice cream place)

What I did:
-brought gaterade for all just in case
-brought que sheets.

just some thoughts.

I also should have got some sort of emergency contact info just in case something happened.
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Old 08-13-11, 07:27 PM   #6
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I don't think you're givng yourself eough credit.
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Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
-Have a solid plan of where to eat and add that to the que sheet
If you think about it, we ate at pretty much the only option we had. Most of the food was passed during the first loop, which would have been way too soon to stop to eat. There's no way we would have eaten, then rode back to the cars and then went to the second loop on full bellies. Could it have been done a bit differently? Sure, but IMO it was a non factor because the pizza place was only a half mile out of the way.

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Would have wanted to make sure everyone was together. I know it might not have seemed liek a big deal but when I think about it, it was a big deal to me.
Keeping a ride together isn't as easy as it seems, you have different rider experiences, rider fitness levels, terrain, weather, even different types of bikes (mtb, touring, hybrid, full on road bikes) that will play a part in stretching a group out. But the one thing you can control is the regroups, and you did that well. You called for regroups often(in the shade too! thankyou) and made sure that the group was always together after turns and stop lights. Yes we got stretched a bit on places but everytime we did you called for a regroup.
There's ride leaders that have been doing this for years that can't even figure that basic concept out. At the end of the day noone got dropped and noone had to find their own way back to the car. T
The only thing we could have possibly done different is had a stated ride speed that everyone was comfortable from the beginning and stuck to it, but even that doesn't work because once you hit the first hill, or the wind kicks up the groupd gets stretached, so regroups are necessary, and as I said you did that well.

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-Would have a better idea of where to go after the ride (ice cream place)
That was not your fault but mine. If I had looked it up on my car GPS versus my phone we would have known that the place we were headed was not open anymore and have saved ourselves the 10+ minutes we wasted looking for it.

Again I thnk we all had fun, everyone stayed safe and we ate pizza and ice cream. What more ould you ask?

Last edited by paisan; 08-13-11 at 07:32 PM. Reason: hit enter too soon
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Old 08-13-11, 07:53 PM   #7
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Iron Chef, for a ride like this in a populated area, you don't need to note a food stop unless it's the focus of the ride. When I led the Clyde Ride on the Thun Trail in June 2010, I did plan on a specific food stop because I wanted everyone to experience Scoupe DeVille. If this were an extended ride in sparsely populated place (like PA's Pine Creek Gorge, or some of the areas in western PA and MD), then planning lunch stops is important. (For instance, you have nothing between Wellsboro Junction and Waterville on the Pine Creek Rail Trail except a couple general stores at Cedar Run and Slate Run.) Here, we were riding through towns. Food was all over the place.

I think you should stop beating yourself up for leading a wonderful ride.
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Old 08-13-11, 09:35 PM   #8
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We had a great ride

I will definitely make the trip again!
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Old 08-13-11, 09:45 PM   #9
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We had a great ride

I will definitely make the trip again!
And we need to get our posse out to here:

http://www.atatrail.org/tmi/map1.cfm

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Old 08-14-11, 04:20 AM   #10
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Common sense, courtesy, patience, communication and above all, an eye toward safety.
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Old 08-14-11, 05:38 AM   #11
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These guys look like they had a good time:


Except me, of course, since I always look like a Gloomy Gus in photos.
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Old 08-14-11, 06:15 AM   #12
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I don't think you need to plan food stops unless it's a very long ride. On my Saturday morning group rides we do a loop of about 35 miles starting and finishing at a restaurant where we all have breakfast together. It's a fun way to socialize and refuel after the ride Other things I see good ride leaders do:-

- Clearly communicate the route, distance and pace of the ride a day or two beforehand.
- Make sure riders are properly equipped for the ride (we've had people show up for 50 mile rides in 95+ deg heat without a water bottle!! They were told they could not ride with us)
- During the ride, stick to the communicated pace.
- Be clear about where to regroup, especially after climbs. Long climbs will string out the group, everybody, even the pros, climb at their own speed so regrouping after long climbs is almost always required.
- If it is a big group, appoint a sweeper, this is a competent rider who is willing to hang at the back and help the slowest riders or anyone who gets into trouble as necessary.
- Always consider the whole group's safety, especially on busy roads and at intersection/lights.
_ Have fun!!!!

Last edited by 1855Cru; 08-14-11 at 06:45 AM. Reason: added info
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Old 08-14-11, 07:48 AM   #13
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And we need to get our posse out to here:

http://www.atatrail.org/tmi/map1.cfm
Count me in!
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Old 08-21-11, 12:38 PM   #14
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We did a ride today and I was the ride leader. Learned a lot.... things I should have done and not should have done.

So I wanted to ask.... what makes a good ride leader to you?
Well, we had an example of a bad ride leader yesterday. Advertising a no-drop 12MPH ride and then dropping people at 15 - 16 MPH is a problem. Failing to regroup or allow other riders to catch up is another. And getting in your car and leaving before all your riders are back is a third failing.
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Old 08-21-11, 02:03 PM   #15
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Well, we had an example of a bad ride leader yesterday. Advertising a no-drop 12MPH ride and then dropping people at 15 - 16 MPH is a problem. Failing to regroup or allow other riders to catch up is another. And getting in your car and leaving before all your riders are back is a third failing.
And this is why I don't do group rides with a "ride leader". If I am doing a ride, I want to enjoy the ride and not have to rely on anyone else for me to finish the ride, or if I am too slow to make the group wait for me.

Honestly, riding alone is not a bad thing. And a casual ride with friends is one thing, an organized paced ride is not for me whatsoever.
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Old 08-21-11, 04:02 PM   #16
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I was not on your ride, but I had just thought about this in a recent blog post (and here I go, quoting myself. Bleah!)
This ride, BTW, was a casual ride for casual bicyclists. So I didn't deal with route sheets or things like that. Some of these folks may only ride their bikes 6 times a year.

So how does one successfully lead a ride? Here are my thoughts.
Know your riders. Have a vague clue of their abilities and the kind of ride they'd enjoy. This is kind of self-selecting for the rides I lead, which are fairly well described and the riders choose the rides which interest them.
I have had to only once discourage a rider from one section of a two part ride, since I was pretty sure he was not physically fit. He found the second, easier half "just right" so that worked out OK. AND he got to hang out in a coffee place while waiting for the second half to begin.

Mother-hen them just a little bit, but don't get crazy with the rules. I routinely ask folks before we set out if they've locked their cars and if they've got water bottles, since water is a safety issue and worrying about your car sucks all the fun out of a ride.
Helmets are required on our rides, but that's an easy visual check. It is there or it is not.
If there is an epidemic of mal-adjusted helmets, I'll mention briefly how helmets are supposed to fit, and see who wants help fixing theirs. Here's a good resource for that.

Let the group know what's expected of them. Explain the rules of the trail, mention rest stops. Use rest stops to talk about what's coming up, don't try to pile all the information on at the beginning of the ride. Although it can be fun to watch their eyes glaze over.

Check on your riders every once in a while. I like to buzz by up the line of people (I'm usually in the back, sweeping unless there's a tricky-to-follow part coming up) and ask them how they are doing. If someone for instance (as happened today) is stuck in one gear for the whole ride but can handle it, don't worry about it.
If someone is looking like the heat or exertion is getting to be too much, get them to take a break and recover for a while. Make them drink water and eat something (I've had to do this). Sometimes you have to hassle them into taking it a little easy, but it beats calling for the EMTs down the road (which I have not had to do).

Know your route! If you are blazing new trails, make sure the group knows it and are comfortable with it. Many will not be. They want to see the leader as infallible. Where's the fun in that, I ask?!

Be prepared. I carry a first aid kit and I know how to use it. Although I don't have a common tube size, I do carry an assortment of tools with me. I know how to change a tube, remove a broken link, and unjam a chain. I stink at adjusting deraillers.
In the past I have fed people along the trail, loaned out a spare helmet, handed out bandaids, and insisted that a rider borrow a waterbottle.

Have fun. If leading rides becomes a hassle, ask yourself why you are still doing it? If you still want to do it, fix the hassles and carry on.
Fun is contagious, but so is un-fun.
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Old 08-21-11, 04:10 PM   #17
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And this is why I don't do group rides with a "ride leader". If I am doing a ride, I want to enjoy the ride and not have to rely on anyone else for me to finish the ride, or if I am too slow to make the group wait for me.

Honestly, riding alone is not a bad thing. And a casual ride with friends is one thing, an organized paced ride is not for me whatsoever.
I agree. And had I known this ride was going to have had a pace of 15-16 MPH, I'd have skipped it.
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Old 08-21-11, 04:25 PM   #18
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I was not on your ride, but I had just thought about this in a recent blog post (and here I go, quoting myself. Bleah!)
This ride, BTW, was a casual ride for casual bicyclists. So I didn't deal with route sheets or things like that. Some of these folks may only ride their bikes 6 times a year.

So how does one successfully lead a ride? Here are my thoughts.
Know your riders. Have a vague clue of their abilities and the kind of ride they'd enjoy. This is kind of self-selecting for the rides I lead, which are fairly well described and the riders choose the rides which interest them.
I have had to only once discourage a rider from one section of a two part ride, since I was pretty sure he was not physically fit. He found the second, easier half "just right" so that worked out OK. AND he got to hang out in a coffee place while waiting for the second half to begin.

Mother-hen them just a little bit, but don't get crazy with the rules. I routinely ask folks before we set out if they've locked their cars and if they've got water bottles, since water is a safety issue and worrying about your car sucks all the fun out of a ride.
Helmets are required on our rides, but that's an easy visual check. It is there or it is not.
If there is an epidemic of mal-adjusted helmets, I'll mention briefly how helmets are supposed to fit, and see who wants help fixing theirs. Here's a good resource for that.

Let the group know what's expected of them. Explain the rules of the trail, mention rest stops. Use rest stops to talk about what's coming up, don't try to pile all the information on at the beginning of the ride. Although it can be fun to watch their eyes glaze over.

Check on your riders every once in a while. I like to buzz by up the line of people (I'm usually in the back, sweeping unless there's a tricky-to-follow part coming up) and ask them how they are doing. If someone for instance (as happened today) is stuck in one gear for the whole ride but can handle it, don't worry about it.
If someone is looking like the heat or exertion is getting to be too much, get them to take a break and recover for a while. Make them drink water and eat something (I've had to do this). Sometimes you have to hassle them into taking it a little easy, but it beats calling for the EMTs down the road (which I have not had to do).

Know your route! If you are blazing new trails, make sure the group knows it and are comfortable with it. Many will not be. They want to see the leader as infallible. Where's the fun in that, I ask?!

Be prepared. I carry a first aid kit and I know how to use it. Although I don't have a common tube size, I do carry an assortment of tools with me. I know how to change a tube, remove a broken link, and unjam a chain. I stink at adjusting deraillers.
In the past I have fed people along the trail, loaned out a spare helmet, handed out bandaids, and insisted that a rider borrow a waterbottle.

Have fun. If leading rides becomes a hassle, ask yourself why you are still doing it? If you still want to do it, fix the hassles and carry on.
Fun is contagious, but so is un-fun.
The "mother hen" aspect of the ride was overdone and misapplied, IMO. The ride leader went on about the lack of services in the forest we rode through. In Delaware. A stand of trees in the First State is hardly the "forest primeval" of Longfellow's day. But at the same time he had no problem leaving behind a woman who was riding what a friend dubbed the "bike of Sisyphus" because she was slow-flatting every few miles.
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Old 08-21-11, 05:37 PM   #19
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Interesting.

In the WCBC rides we do, there is always a leader & follower. They both have communication devices to keep each other informed of what is going on. On all the organized rides I've been on with them, no one is dropped. If someone is lagging behind, the follower stays with that person. I've watched the leader pull over and tell the rest of us to wait for the rest of the group. If the last person is lagging to the point that the rest of the group will have to wait a long time, a decision is made to allow the last person to turn around or take a shorter route back, but the follower does not abandon anyone.

It is possible that this ride was tainted with favoritism. Doesn't surprise me, though. I see it and hear about it often.
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Old 08-21-11, 05:59 PM   #20
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Interesting.

In the WCBC rides we do, there is always a leader & follower. They both have communication devices to keep each other informed of what is going on. On all the organized rides I've been on with them, no one is dropped. If someone is lagging behind, the follower stays with that person. I've watched the leader pull over and tell the rest of us to wait for the rest of the group. If the last person is lagging to the point that the rest of the group will have to wait a long time, a decision is made to allow the last person to turn around or take a shorter route back, but the follower does not abandon anyone.

It is possible that this ride was tainted with favoritism. Doesn't surprise me, though. I see it and hear about it often.
It soon broke into "us" and "them", the Bike Forums posters being "us." We were a bunch of good folks, but aside from chefisaac, a BCP regular, the Bike Forums riders were ignored. Thankfully we are all strong riders save me. (I make it up in determination.)

Then again, I never know when there's some underlying animosity from my sometimes rocky relations with BCP creeping in. It's even cropped up here in the Clyde Forum. I was on good behavior, but it could be at some point it was decided I was too much trouble to keep with the group.

When I led the Clyde Ride on the Thun Trail in June 2010, I managed to keep the group together until after the lunch break. I rode sweep the final ten miles to make sure everyone got back OK. I certainly didn't drive away before everyone returned.
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Old 08-21-11, 07:56 PM   #21
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Just to throw this out there as I am new to the idea of organized group rides, what does an average pace mean? Does it refer to the moving speed or the distance covered in an hour? Does a 12 mph ride mean that the ride will move at 12 mph or cover 12 miles in an hour?

I have been under the impression it refers to moving speed, but after the ride Neil is referring too I was wondering if some people might be interpreting it differently?
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Old 08-21-11, 08:25 PM   #22
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It's usually the moving speed but for some rides the stated speed is the max speed allowed on that ride. In the case of the peach ride it turned out to be the average speed including breaks.

The funniest moment was the lady on the "bike of sisyphus" who refused any help with her flat because I obviously didn't have a clue about fixing a bike because I wasn't doing their stated average speed.
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Old 08-21-11, 08:58 PM   #23
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It's usually the moving speed but for some rides the stated speed is the max speed allowed on that ride. In the case of the peach ride it turned out to be the average speed including breaks.

The funniest moment was the lady on the "bike of sisyphus" who refused any help with her flat because I obviously didn't have a clue about fixing a bike because I wasn't doing their stated average speed.
Welcome to the club, Paisan. The club of people who aren't "real cyclists." :-)
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Old 08-21-11, 09:02 PM   #24
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Just to throw this out there as I am new to the idea of organized group rides, what does an average pace mean? Does it refer to the moving speed or the distance covered in an hour? Does a 12 mph ride mean that the ride will move at 12 mph or cover 12 miles in an hour?

I have been under the impression it refers to moving speed, but after the ride Neil is referring too I was wondering if some people might be interpreting it differently?
In the ride listings I've seen for BCP and other clubs it means "riding pace."

And since I've mentioned BCP a couple of times let me state that while BCP members were involved in this peach thing, it doesn't appear to have been a club ride - I didn't see it in the club's schedule of events.
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Old 08-21-11, 09:59 PM   #25
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and we need to get our posse out to here:

http://www.atatrail.org/tmi/map1.cfm

yes!
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