Participate in an Informal Ride
Whether participating in an informal mountain bike or road bike group ride, the suggested etiquette can be summed up in the Golden Rule: treat your fellow riders the same way you would want them to treat you.
With that in mind, here are a few specific suggestions to keep in mind:
- Don’t be late. If the ride has a scheduled departure time, try to have both body and bike ready to roll before that time.
- Provide camaraderie and support to everyone. Watch out for your fellow cyclists before, during and after the ride. Help newcomers feel welcome. Don’t forget the “group” part of a group ride; this isn’t a racing club. Be ready to either slow down or stop and regroup periodically.
- Be prepared. Understand the route being proposed and pick the right ride group. Print out a map to take with you if one is available. Make sure your bike is in decent working order so the potential of delaying the group with mechanical difficulties is minimized. Bring tools and CO2 or a pump to change flats. A cell phone is also a good idea. Of course wear a helmet, bring energy snacks, plenty of water and some basic first aid supplies.
- Be alert and communicate. Communication is the key to a safe group ride.
- Ride cautiously and considerately.
- DON’T BE INTIMIDATED – JOIN THE FUN!
Lead an Informal Ride
Leading an informal group ride is the most simple, yet, most essential contribution you can make to your club. After all, our rides are at the heart of who we are and what we do. Without our rides, we’d be just another social club. Those who have led rides before know it’s fun to do, allowing one to dream up unique and interesting routes to share with your friends. They have also learned that it’s very easy to do…neither intimidating nor tedious.
The process begins with your imagination. Envision a cool collection of roads or trails that you would like to inflict upon your fellow club members. It can be a basic route done many times before, a ride brand new to the list or something with a special twist, like a visit to some event or point of interest.
If you want to lead a ride already published, let other riders know so they can look at and print the route maps and trail notes if they choose. If the trail or route is not published yet, plan to make sufficient notes on the route so that it can be later added to the list of trails.
The person initiating the informal ride should take certain steps to ensure a safe and successful ride:
- Make sure participants understand in advance what the route will be. This should include the level of technical difficulty, the total riding distance and the anticipated pace of the ride.
- Designate certain points on the route for regrouping (including all trail junctions), and then make sure everyone arrives at each point before moving on.
- Appoint someone to ride “sweep” in case of possible injury or mechanical problems.
- If a group of riders with different skill levels show up for a ride, ask someone to take group leader responsibilities for the slower (or faster) group.
- If it is a road ride, safety has to be the number one concern. Encourage all riders to communicate with others by shouting or pointing out hazards (cars ahead or behind, potholes, loose gravel, broken glass, etc.).
- When riding on open public roads, a single file formation is the safest way to move as a group. Only do double pace lines (side by side riding) when it can be done safely. Stay alert for other vehicles.
All riders, not just the ride leader, should remember that concentration and awareness of what is happening around you is everything while riding. So ride safely by expecting the unexpected!