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Guide for Ride Leaders

Ride Submission/Cancellation

  1. Submit your ride description to the appropriate ride coordinator (A, B, etc.) before mid-month of the month preceding your ride (see the Flat Tyre for ride coordinator deadline). Include date, title, start time/place, distance, ride speed, lunch arrangements, your phone/email contact information, and what you plan to do should it rain.
  2. If you find that you are unable to lead the ride for personal reasons, attempt to find a replacement; the ride coordinator/ride chair may be helpful. Talk with your friends, send out a note by email—but try your best to find an alternate leader and provide him/her with the route sheet. If this attempt fails, login to our new website to post a cancelation notice on the Ride Cancelations forum. If at all possible, go to the start point and start the ride yourself; else find a friend to take sign ups and hand out route sheets.
  3. Rain—No matter what you said in the ride description about rain, you or a friend should show up at the start. It may not be raining there. Meet with those riders who show up and discuss alternate rides, etc. If you choose not to ride, take rider sign ups and hand out route sheets.

Prepare for the Ride

  1. Be familiar with the ride route. Make note of potential hazards: heavy traffic, construction, etc.
  2. Prepare maps or directions so riders can follow the route. Include appropriate regroup points along the route. A & B rides have frequent to semi-frequent stops to wait for all riders. New and inexperienced riders are welcome on A rides. On C–F rides there is no obligation to wait for slower riders if route directions are given.
  3. See general information section of the Ride Schedule in the Flat Tyre for additional information.

Day of the Ride

  1. Take With You
    1. Sign-up sheet and pencil or pen. Maps or other directions for riders.
    2. Repair equipment, such as patch kit, pump, spare tire, tools. Basic first aid equipment, such as band-aids, first aid cream, aspirin, etc.
    3. LAB (League of American Bicyclists) Incident Report Form and Incident Report Instructions.
  2. Arrive at the meeting point ten minutes early. If you must cancel, have someone at the meeting point to inform riders that the ride is canceled, or hand out the route sheets or map and appoint a substitute ride leader.
  3. Introduce yourself, give a brief description of the ride, review the pace and difficulty. Distribute maps or directions and make sure they are clear. Review known hazards on the route.
  4. Have riders sign in. Members print their name, non-members print and sign to accept the Release. On A– and possibly B–rides, look at bikes for any mechanical problems. Resolve problems before the ride starts.
  5. Remind riders that bicycles are vehicles and are expected to follow all traffic regulations. This means stopping at stop-signs and red lights, using hand signals, and riding single-file on the right side of the road. Emphasize safety. Advise riders to point out hazards to others, and use voice signals when appropriate (car-back, passing on your left, etc). See also the Western Wheelers Check List of Traffic Laws/Safety and Group Riding.
  6. Choose assistant to ride sweep (at the end of group). Make sure that the sweep rider has accurate headcount, to keep track of the riders. Have riders inform you if they leave early.

During the Ride

  1. Follow route plan. Lead the ride as written in newsletter. If you change route or regroup points, make certain that all riders are aware of the change. Do not change pacing or difficulty, unless all riders agree. If your class of ride waits for stragglers, wait for them. Suggest that faster riders go ahead but meet with the group periodically; optionally suggest a longer and/or more difficult route for the faster riders.
  2. Enforce good riding practice. Be polite but firm. You may ask someone to leave the ride, if necessary.
  3. Keep track of all riders. If there is a physical or mechanical problem, solve it before continuing the ride. DO NOT EVER ABANDON A RIDER. Get medical help if necessary.

After the Ride

  1. Account for all riders. Thank them, and ask for comments on the ride.
  2. Fill out ride report and send to the statistician.

Suggestions for Ride Leaders

If you think about why you get together with others to ride your bike, you will have a pretty good idea about why other people are attracted to group riding. If you think about the qualities you like in a ride leader, you will have some good notions about what others would hope to get from you. There are some general aspects of ride leadership, which when kept in mind, can make for a more enjoyable experience.


People ride in a group to be with other people. Give some consideration to how you can promote the social aspects of the ride. Simply asking people to introduce themselves can go a long way in the regard. Rest and lunch stops often encourage socialization.


Consider some of the more relevant safety concerns to the particular ride you are leading. Mention heavy traffic, steep descents, or some other aspect of group riding such as pointing out road hazards before you start the ride. Try to set the tone for a safe ride, without making a lecture of it. Answer questions as they come up. Lead by example (e.g., by stopping at stop signs).


Know your route well enough to be able to convey to others what they need to know. Maps or route descriptions are always helpful. If you plan to cancel if it is raining, the time to so state is in your ride description for the newsletter. Think ahead about the small details such as making sure you have a pen for signing people in. If you are unsure about any details, contact someone ahead of time who can advise you (such as the ride coordinator for the level of ride you are leading).

Being in Charge

People will naturally look to you for direction and guidance when needs or problems arise. Disasters can be avoided if problems are spotted early. Keep the status of the group as a whole in your awareness. Know if people are lagging behind or experiencing mechanical problems. Exercise judgment when decisions need to be made. The safety of the group should be your highest concern. This may require that you ask people to modify their behavior or even that they abandon the ride. Often times, simply checking with a person who is having difficulty can promote their taking appropriate action to resolve the problem. It help when you confirm what they know ought to be done. Being in charge doesn’t mean being overbearing or dictatorial.

Feel Appreciated

Ride leading is the backbone of the club. It is your willingness to lead a ride that supports and promotes our primary purpose: bike riding. Always remember that people appreciate what you do.

Last updated: April 13, 2012 MSK
Revised: Apr. 8, 2011 MSK
Revised: Feb. 12, 2004 RAB
Revised: Sep. 28, 1999 CBS
Revised: Oct. 18, 1996 RAB
Draft 1: Jun. 1988