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Ride Leaders

Hi All,

The Ride Leader handbook is now on the website and you can find it here:

Ride Leader Handbook

Please do let me have any feedback you may have on this thread?

Point to note about this page; it is based on British Cycling Ride Leadership Level 1 & Level 2, I do very much appreciate that this is a structure to base our Club Runs and Ride Leadership on (a bit like ITIL, PRINCE2, TOGAF etc are frameworks which you adapt to your particular delivery method).

John,

Some feedback and questions:
  1. Not sure how many Nomads know what ITIL, PRINCE2, and TOGAF2 are (!). Kind of intimidating acronyms for laymen. I think you could delete that bit and people will get your point about frameworks.
  2. There’s no mention of the “M check” of the bike’s equipment in the pre-ride check. I thought that was a useful exercise.
  3. It says to discourage riders from calling out “clear” at intersections. I can see that when you have someone controlling the intersections that’s not necessary.
  4. Under Routes, there is this point:
Confusing.   Isn’t the meaning just “avoid picking routes that everyone always uses”?
  1. Under Dealing with Large Groups. It says 
Shouldn’t that read “not more than 6-8 riders” and “not more than 8-10 riders”?

Lots of good ideas in here - well done, John!

It's worth emphasising where these guidelines do more than reinforce what's in our existing Rules & Etiquette section - and we should look at rewording the relevant parts of that section if the general feeling is that the BC guidelines are better. Three issues stand out to me:

  1. Group sizes;
  2. Junction control; and
  3. Pre-ride checks for CATIRs.

Group Sizes

If we're going to enforce a group size limit of 10 (reduced to 8 if a significant part of the ride is going to be on busy roads), this should be done at the start of the ride: expecting a group to split naturally on the road is asking for trouble, because it presupposes that the group will become strung out and undisciplined. This isn't just discourteous to other road users and dangerous to us - it can also lead to a scramble at the split point, as riders in the second group sense that they are being dropped.

We do split groups already in extreme cases (when say 20 people want to ride at Group 2 pace) but I often see groups of 12 to 15 going out together. If we believe that the BC guidelines are right, we should say that this is no longer acceptable. We then have some options ... Suppose that 12 people try to form a Group 2. Either:

  1. The group can split to form a Group 2A and a Group 2B, both of six people; or
  2. Two people can change from Group 2 to Group 3, if there's room for them.

It's fairly common that only six to eight people choose to ride at Group 3 pace, which means that we could have often have two groups of eight to 10, which seems better to me than three groups of six - and anyone who would normally ride at Group 2 pace but who choose to ride with Group 3 would be able to help out with leadership.

Junction Control

This, to me, is about more than scouting junctions and waving riders past.

I can see why BC recommends their approach, especially with a CATIR group, but if we're going to apply it then we have to be consistent, otherwise we'll keep making our own decisions at each junction, and we'll keep shouting "clear" as a courtesy to people behind us. This means that all ride leaders need to know the BC routine, and they need to have a clear rule about when to apply it: should it be at every junction, or should it be just at junctions with main roads? Logically, it should apply wherever the group would otherwise have to slow down, which means that we should apply it everywhere except at junctions with extremely good visibility for the whole of the approach and with no other traffic on the road. Should there be another exception for very busy roads or roundabouts, where the only way to join the junction may be one or two riders at a time, regrouping after the junction?

It's almost essential to have a second ride leader in each group to work this way, so that (a) someone can be responsible for the group while the ride leader is working the junction and (b) to share the role, so that the ride leader doesn't spend half the ride catching the group and then riding on ahead. We're pretty good about assigning lanternes rouges, but this goes much further.

It also seems clear that controlling a junction the BC way only works with a compact group - allow a couple of people to straggle behind the group, and it may be impossible to hold a junction long enough for everyone to ride through together. So, either we have to avoid allowing groups to become strung out or we have to regroup well before each junction, rather than just after. I'm not saying that that would be a bad thing, just that it becomes essential, in order to be able to use BC junction control.

Overall, I see this as a package of rules, if it's to work:

  1. All ride leaders have to learn the BC method of junction control;
  2. It has to be applied at every junction, unless it's clearly safe for the group to ride through without slowing;
  3. Each group has to include at least two people who are capable of leading and applying BC methods; and
  4. Groups either must maintain formation or must regroup well before every junction.

Incidentally, at the Saturday session we discussed the best place for the ride leader to stand while controlling a junction, and there was a general feeling that it should be on the left of the road, so that the group could ride past on the right. In the BC video, a ride leader is shown at 1:13 controlling a junction from the centre-line, which is what felt more natural to me - but that's with a left turn, so perhaps we've all got something of the truth, and the rule should be stated more subtly than just left or right. How does this sound ... ?

  1. When turning left or crossing a main road or mini-roundabout, the ride leader should control the junction from the centre-line, so that the group passes on the left; but
  2. When turning right, the ride leader should control the junction from a position a couple of metres to the left of the centre-line, so that the group passes on the right.

Pre-Ride Checks for CATIRs

Are we going to do this? We would definitely be adding to what we do for new riders if we did, but it needs some planning. In particular:

  1. The leader for the CATIR could save time by carrying out the M-checks in the car park before the ride; and
  2. We need a safe place to do the high-five test - the pavilion car park is too gravelly, in my opinion, but I can't think of an obvious alternative - there might be space in the car park of the Bull, or there's Downlands school, but it's a bit cheeky in either case.

Anyway, it's worth giving all ride leaders the benefit of the Saturday McSeminar, whatever we decide. Final thought? I'd really like to see what BC says about Level 2 skills, which could be particularly relevant to Group 1 and Group 2 leaders ...

Hi Gents,

Thanks very much for the input, greatly appreciated.

Please lets do keep in mind the difference between what British Cycling recommends in the way of safety and inclusivity and what the Sussex Nomads do.  Both points of view of obviously valid, as I say BC is a 'framework'.

I'll update the pages with the above comments and await further from the rest of the members.