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bobkat 07-19-06 08:18 AM

Leading an evening bike ride
I have volunteered to lead an evening bike ride for beginners, easy riders, older kids, slower more laid back riders, riders who are doing it for health reasons and generally riders who are not in the Lance Armstrong Wannabee class. Unfortunately I've never even been on any group rides like this, and would welcome any suggestions of how to begin or run them. Thanks for any suggestions Bob

Digital Gee 07-19-06 08:26 AM

Don't try to reach consensus on what kind of pie. You get to choose.

Pat 07-19-06 08:26 AM

It sounds like what we call a "social" ride around here. Make the ride short about 10-15 miles. Having the ride stop at a place where people can get a nice little snack is usually a hit. I belonged to a club where a person led one of these rides and did not route it by an ice cream shop and he was nearly lynched. Take care with the route. Try to keep it to bicycle trails or lightly traveled roads. Quite a few rookie cyclists are afraid of traffic. Hand out a map or a Q sheet. Be ready to ride DRAG. That means following behind the last rider and being sure that everyone gets back and you are ready to help someone fix a flat. Oh be sure to have a few extra tubes. New riders often do not bring the stuff to fix flats.

If you have a local cycling club, you could call one of the officers for suggestions on how to run the ride and for some tips on easy, lightly traveled and hopefully scenic routes. A local bike shop may be able to help you here also.

centexwoody 07-19-06 08:36 AM

Best to do it with two persons: one 'leading' the group and setting the pace, the other at the back of the pack encouraging those who are struggling.

Our 'social rides' advertise that no one on the ride will be 'dropped' - that is, if they can't keep up with the rest, that they'll be accompanied by someone else on the ride until they get home. As for the distance, if there are newbies, 15 miles is probably too long. My suggestion would be to do a nice 5 - 8 mile ride. Those that are in shape will feel confident & want to another longer ride later. Those just starting will have a sense of accomplishment and not be daunted by trying to ride farther than they are able and be tempted to quit.

NOS88 07-19-06 08:43 AM

Never led a ride, but as a participant, I can say that I appreciate:

1. Very brief overview of the route and a map or cue sheet.
2. A verbal reinforcement that this is a fun ride and not a race.
3. Assurance that everyone will be accounted for at the end.
4. While I don't like to stop for ice cream or other snacks, I know others often do.
5. Since I carry a cell phone, I appreciate having the number of someone I can call if I get really stupid lost.
6. Riding with people who like to ride!

Good luck. Love to know how it works out.

Baggsy 07-19-06 09:33 AM

Go over safety with the older kids, everybody for that matter...don't take for granted that they know to stay to the right and not cross wheels. Have the lead out man with a rear view mirror, the bunch will string out a ways and the DRAG might be too far to have an effect. Above all else, keep it safe. The fun part will take care of itself after that.

sauerwald 07-19-06 10:03 AM

I have led a few of these - in our case the ride takes off after work (6:00pm) and we end at a Pizza joint for pizza and beer - if you have a lot of kids, you might want to consider lite beer =:o . Our groups are usually about 15-20 riders.

Before leaving I get everybody around in a circle and we introduce ourselves.
Our club has a sign-in sheet which has space for an emergency contact.
During introductions I make a note to check the equipment of each individual - helmet bike etc, anything that looks questionable I will follow up on before we actually depart.
I always prepare a handout with a cue sheet and a map, and verbally go over where we are going and what to expect.
I will pick someone to ride sweep, sticking with whoever is at the back of the pack.
I like to set regrouping spots about every 5-8 miles, helps to keep the group from getting too spread out.

stapfam 07-19-06 02:34 PM

Have led a few- and I like to have another experienced rider with me. One at the front and the "Rear Gunner" to encourage the slower riders.

I do mine offroad and Do have people that should not be on a 10 mile ride trying to do 25. I always have an easy escape route at 5 miles so that the occasional person can return home- With the Rear gunner if necessary, So perhaps it is better to have 3 experienced riders. Every time we get to a Trail junction -I wait for the group to reform. That way I do not lose anyone. Only time I did was when I let someone ride on ahead as he was far fitter than any one else and he did not stop at the next junction. So perhaps I now need 4 experienced riders.

Try to stay within the capabilities of your group, and if you have a fit rider- Offer to take him out on one of your normal rides, but keep him down to the level of the others by making plenty of stops to regroup. The fit ones you can deal with but you have to keep an eye on the ones that are struggling. Rear gunner to keep a slow pace for them and to keep encouraging them.

I did a ride last year and people were joining all day long. The riders were stretched out over about 2 miles on the road but the leading group- who ever they were- were occasionally told to wait for the last rider to pass them before starting to ride again. This worked as the fitter riders then had to work hard to get to the front so every rider got the ride in they wanted- and the group that started as 50, but finished the day with 200, Stayed together on the road and we all finished at the same time.

centexwoody 07-19-06 02:56 PM

+ 1 good suggestions
QUOTE STAPFAM: "...the leading group- who ever they were- were occasionally told to wait for the last rider to pass them before starting to ride again. This worked as the fitter riders then had to work hard to get to the front so every rider got the ride in they wanted-..."

Sounds like the way my wife & I ride sometimes where I'll do a 5-minute interval pumping ahead, then circle back 1/2 mile as she passes me then work like the devil to catch up to her again.

DnvrFox 07-19-06 02:57 PM

I recently related a neighborhood ride that I led where a guy crapped out at 5 miles (the same guy who was doing the 2 miles last week and was proud of it).

I think an escape route for a beginning group is really important as Stapfam noted.

On my "seniors" rides I lead every Monday, I regroup every couple of miles. The worst thing is to have the last person(s) feeling just like that - last and lonely.

If you are going too slow for some riders, then they should likely be in another group.

Especially the first time, until you get to know the group a bit.

It is not a bad idea to exchange cell phone numbers at the start of the ride. Especially have yours printed on a sheet of paper given to everyone.

Pamestique 07-19-06 03:15 PM

I am a mountain bike docent for The Nature Conservancy and lead rides each week, generally for new or slower paced riders.

Just a suggestion, for the first ride, make sure you have a partner (or two or three), someone who can sweep the group. Decide what you and the the other riders want out of the ride but you establish the parameters. I generally make it very clear "this ride is going to be slow paced, non-drop, that means we may have frequent stops. If being patience is something you can't do, then it's OK to bail, our feelings won't be hurt."

I would give a brief overview as to what the ride is going to be like. How much climbing, trail hazards, wildlife issues, distance of ride, etc. Then if any of the riders feels uncomfortable and wants to bail before the ride then have a choice. Make sure all the riders also know general riding rules, like calling out "stopping" or watching a line. Also check out everyone's equipment and make sure bikes are in order and the riders have water etc.

Do the first ride slow, at an even pace to see how all the riders do. I usually call out things like "big hill coming" or "steep rocky descent" so the riders a few folks back know what's coming.

Good luck. Group rides are fun but there is a compromise involved. In order for it to be a group ride, the fast folks need to slow down and be patient with the new or slow folks. As time goes on, everyone gets better.

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