Ride Leader Guidance

Although the ethos of group riding exists on all club rides, this guidance has been written primarily for ride leaders for the Saturday slow ride and any other entry level club ride. Ride leaders may have their own idea of how rides should be ridden. This list is designed to standardise the club's entry level rides so all new members ride to the same standards.

Before the day

  1. Organise a café stop
    • Make contact with a café and inform them of the group arriving that day.
    • Inform the club ride coordinator of the destination so that they can add the ride to the club website calendar.
  2. Plan a route
    • Beginners’ rides should be 25-30 miles max. to account for total beginners @ 12-13 mph.
    • Suggested routes are available on https://ridewithgps.com/find. Search for keywords TVCC Club Ride to list all club ride routes; add the name of your destination to the search to find a specific route.
  3. Advertise the ride on the forum in advance
    • Rides advertised on the club website forum up to a week in advance, including any additional information, will encourage more riders to come along in the knowledge of what to expect on the ride.
  4. Check the weather ahead of the ride
    • It is the ride leader’s responsibility to check the weather forecast the day before the ride and to make an informed decision as to whether the ride will go ahead.
    • A risk assessment should be made based on the ability of those riding.
      • Light rain is generally not a reason to cancel a ride. It might well be worth going to the start point and seeing if any riders have arrived
      • Strong winds or the risk of frost / ice may be a reason to cancel a club ride.
      • If a ride leader deems it unsafe for a group then they should post an entry on the club website forum to notify club members that the ride is cancelled. Any club members who still wish to ride will do so as a private (non-club) ride and at their own risk.

On the day

  1. Review the weather forecast / road conditions on the day as above.
    • A risk assessment for a group ride should be ongoing, including once the ride has started (for example if the roads prove to be icy). The ride leader can cancel a club ride at any point including after it has started, though clearly in such circumstances every attempt should be made to safely return to the starting point.
  2. Arrive in plenty of time and welcome any new members
    • Arrive 10-15 minutes before the ride is due to start.
    • Keep a lookout for anyone looking ‘lost’ and introduce yourself as the ride leader - the membership secretary will normally advise the ride leader in advance of any new members expected to turn up but it is always possible someone will just turn up on the day.
    • Welcome any new members and explain to them what will happen on the ride:
      • The pace / speed of the ride.
      • That the group stays together with no-one left behind.
      • That new members are welcome to try out up to three club rides before deciding if they would like to join the club.
  3. At the start
    • Carry out a headcount.
    • Groups should not exceed 12-14 riders. This makes a group easier to control and is considerate of other road users.
    • If there are more than 14 riders then the group will need to be split.
      • Seek an experienced club rider to take charge of a second group.
      • Ensure that any unaccompanied young riders remain in a group with a recognised club ride leader.
      • Both groups can use the same route and café stop but keep the groups well separated to allow traffic to pass safely.
      • Where multiple groups of different speeds are setting off from the same location, it makes sense for the fastest group(s) to set off first to reduce the likelihood of the groups meeting on the road.
    • Appoint a reliable club rider to be the last rider in the group (a yellow jacket is useful to allow this nominated rider to be easily spotted from the front of the group). This rider should be confident to shout up if the pace is too fast for someone, or if someone has a mechanical or other issue for which the group needs to wait. Alternatively appoint someone as a reliable pacemaker so that the ride leader can ride at the back.
    • Assess the riders joining your group.
      • All riders must have a roadworthy bike and be appropriately dressed for the expected condition.
      • Ensure you are aware of any riders under the age of 18 in your group, and that the club has previously received a parental consent form.
      • Helmets are mandatory for riders under the age of 18.
    • Brief the riders.
      • Let the riders know which direction you are setting off in, who will be riding as the last rider in the group, and that they should let the group know if they are struggling with the pace or have a mechanical issue.
      • Explain to all riders that if they decide to leave the group then they must inform the ride leader (including if they join a different group at the café stop).
    • When setting off, ensure everyone is ready and the group is together.
  4. During the ride
    • Once you set off keep the pace nice and easy until everyone has warmed up, and keep a close eye on newcomers.
    • Aim to match the speed of the group on the day to what it was advertised as. The pace may vary slightly from this depending on the weather conditions and how hilly the ride is, but the slowest rider should always be catered for.
    • If a rider pushes the pace
      • Don't be afraid to ask the rider to slow down, and explain why.
      • If they persist then don’t be afraid to ask them to move to the rear of the group (and indeed to suggest they move to a more capable group next time if they wish to ride at a faster speed).
      • If a rider half-wheels you at the front of the group then do not respond by increasing your pace as the other rider will simply ride faster. Instead, ask them to ride level with your handlebars.
      • If a rider pushes the pace and rides away from the front of the group then ask the other riders of the group not to follow their pace as this will split the group up.
      • Some rider leaders choose to carry a whistle and explain what it is being used for – if the pace starts to pick up, a quick blow of the whistle is an indication to slow down.
    • If a rider is struggling with the pace
      • Remember - anyone can have a bad day!
      • Get the rider to sit in second or third wheel in the group – it is easier to keep a tired rider in the group when they are placed towards the front, whilst sheltered by other riders, and the pace on an uphill gradient can be matched to them.
      • Make sure that the pace of the group on any uphills is kept low – it is better to keep the group together on a hill than to have to wait at the top.
      • If a rider does get dropped on a hill then it is better to stop for them than to let them try to chase back on to the group – if they were dropped on a hill then they aren’t going to be able to ride fast enough on their own to catch the group after the hill.
      • If the rider really isn’t going to be able to keep up with a reasonable speed for the group, then in consultation with the rider consider leaving an experienced rider to ride back with them. It is impossible to state here how to handle every permutation that may occur, but specifically in the case of a young rider you must ensure that they are not left with less than two people, and ideally accompany them back yourself with one other.
    • Talk to new riders
      • Make them feel welcome.
      • Talk to them about how to ride in a group - following a wheel to benefit from the slipstream of the rider in front, pointing out hazards, not riding in the gutter etc.
    • Set an example by acting responsibly as an identifiable member of the club, being aware that other club members will copy your behaviour:
      • Abide by the Highway Code, including when riding to and from club rides, and especially when wearing club kit.
      • It is generally safer for a group to ride two abreast. Instruct the group when to ride in single file as required, but do not wave motor vehicles past the group – it is for the driver to decide when it is safe for them to overtake.
      • Use a standard call of “front” or “back” to indicate an approaching vehicle.
      • Do not get embroiled in arguments with motorists.
    • When leaving the cafe, ensure you have all your group.
    • The return ride must stay disciplined. It is recognised that many riders enjoy a ramp up in pace towards the end of the ride into Ponteland. This should be managed within the following guidelines
      • The pace is only allowed to increase from far end of Limestone Lane to the Give Way sign 150 metres from the junction with the A696 or from Kirkley Hall to the tree stump on the left 50 metres before Ponteland.
      • The ride leader is not to get involved in this bit of fun - they are to ride with the last rider of their group in order to sweep up stragglers with punctures or any mechanical issues, and to make sure everyone gets back to the starting point.
      • For rides starting and finishing at the farm, guidance will be given in due course for suitable locations for this.
  5. After the ride
    • We ask that the ride leader taking prospective new members out on a ride assesses the ability and suitability of these people to be members of the club, and feeds this back to the membership secretary.
    • It has been known on rare occasions that a new rider has not got the physical ability to cope with the slowest paced club rides. It is important to inform these people at the end of a ride that they need to get their fitness up to a standard that will allow them to ride at this pace and then come back for another club ride. Historically riders have accepted this feedback and then returned a few weeks later to successfully take part in club rides and join the club. If this conversation does not take place then the rider will turn up for more club rides whilst unable to ride at the necessary pace for the ride to be enjoyable for others.
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