The role of Ride Leader can, at the outset and the for the first time, appear to be daunting and a little intimidating however, with a small amount of planning and preparation it can be a rewarding, enjoyable and fun experience as well.
The following are some points to consider when initially approaching the preparations for a ride for the first time. Always remember though that there are more experienced members of the club that will be more than happy to assist in ride planning and conduct.
The first thing to determine is where are you going to lead the ride to. This is entirely up to the Ride Leader. Some considerations are:
- How long do you want the ride to be? Some rides end at lunch time and others go into the afternoon.
- Where do you want to go for the ride? This is typically a ‘map reconnaissance’ to have a look at what is available, within reach and achievable. It is also worth considering that, though ‘highway runs’ are sometime inevitable, preference is shown for out-of-the-way, country roads and ‘twisties’. Again though – this is totally the discretion of the Ride Leader.
- What stops are available? As a rule-of-thumb, a mid-morning rest stop, a lunch stop and depending on the duration an afternoon break can be factored in. Its not a bad idea to aim for about 1.5 hours between breaks but 2 hours should be the limit – most of us are not as young as we used to be (or like to think we are).
- Petrol Stops? Bikes need fuel. Consider fuel options available – while some can use 91, most need 95+.
It is always a good idea to do a Ride Recce. In fact, we’d go so far as to suggest that it is mandatory; even for routes that have been ridden many times or recently. Conditions can change, road works can leave debris on the surface of roads, weather events can damage road surfaces and a number of other things can occur to impact on the route – it is best to know about these. The Ride Recce goes a long way to meeting what is the most important function of the ride leader – ride safety.
It also provides the opportunity to check timings, identify rest stops, note corner marker points etc. Plus, it’s a pretty good reason to just get out and ride!
Organising Lunch Stop
We generally stop at a local pub for lunch. It’s a good idea to allow the venue some warning of an impending avalanche of hungry, older and sometimes grumpy bikers. It is impossible to know exact number until the day, but a pretty good indication is 20 riders with a promise to update the number if it varies by 5 or more either way. Usually a ½ hour arrival window is suitable.
As Ride Leader, it is your job to give the pre-ride brief. This isn’t a difficult brief – it is just letting the riders know:
- The basic route we will be following.
- Where the various stops are to be.
- Chance to confirm numbers for lunch.
- Any hazards identified or things to note.
Don’t forget, as Ride Leader it is your job to identify and place corner markers. A couple of things to consider:
- The corners that need to be ‘marked’ are your call as Ride Leader, but the actual location that the corner-marker stops is up to the corner marker themselves (taking into account their personal safety)
- Not every corner needs to be ‘marked’. If, as Ride Leader, you have a clear view of Tail End Charlie, whether the corner is marked or not is up to you.
Tail End Charlie
Don’t forget to arrange someone to be TEC and make sure that person has your telephone contact number…just in case.
As previously mentioned, being Ride Leader may appear to be a bit daunting but it really isn’t. It is very pleasing to finish the ride, know that everyone enjoyed themselves and had a good time.
There are plenty of experienced Ride Leaders in the Club and anyone of them will be happy to ‘shadow’ you for your preparations and the ride.
Give it a go!!