Lead a Ride
Ride Leader Guidelines
- Ride leaders are encouraged to provide sufficient detail in ride listings to ensure that the reasonable rider will not be taken by surprise. This includes unusually long stretches without a chance to get more water or food, lack of any bailout route, surprisingly hard hills for the given ride rating, etc.
- Ride leaders are strongly encouraged to include a link to the planned route in the online ride listing (e.g., RideWithGPS route) and, if requested, provide a route sheet and/or map showing all turns and regroup points for all rides, except decide-and-rides. When creating a new RideWithGPS route, ride leaders should add it to the GPC RideWithGPS route library.
- Once a ride is posted, leaders should notify riders of any changes or cancellations using the ride listing website.
- Leaders are encouraged to start rides with introductions and ask if anyone is present who is new to our club rides.
- "No-drop" means that the group will wait at all regroups for slower riders to catch up. The leader may, however, suggest an alternative "bailout route" to riders unable to keep up with the published pace. L and LT rides are generally no-drop unless specified otherwise. T rides and faster are generally not no-drop unless the leader indicates it in the listing or at the start. Leaders who intend to lead no-drop rides are encouraged to note this in the ride listing.
- It is not the responsibility of the ride leader to ensure that no one gets lost or to track down anyone who is missing at the end of the ride. However, leaders are encouraged to take reasonable precautions (providing a link the route in advance, regroups at strategic points) to prevent this from happening.
- The ride leader is expected to ride at a pace consistent with the projected average listed, even if most of the group rides faster.
- If slower riders express a clear willingness to stick with each other and ride by themselves, it is okay for the leader to ride faster.
- If a rider is injured on a ride, the club insurance policy requires the leader to fill out an incident report. Please see the incident report form, with instructions.
- If using a paper sign-in sheet, carry it on the ride, in case the emergency info is needed. Don't leave it at the ride start.
- The Leader(s) should sign in as well, giving appropriate emergency numbers.
- Nothing in these guidelines precludes a leader from meeting the ride at the announced start and making changes to the ride or canceling the ride based on any circumstances that the leader judges would make it imprudent to continue with the ride as originally announced.
- Ride leaders are encouraged to speak to safety issues at the beginning of the ride and/or during the ride as the occasion or need arises. (Other experienced riders are encouraged to help with this as appropriate.)
- If someone harasses or threatens riders during a ride, it’s usually safest to ignore that person and ride away, especially if the harasser is in a vehicle. This guide from the Asian American Federation may be a helpful reference for addressing harassment when it’s not possible to just ride away. Ride leaders are encouraged to check in with any riders who have experienced harassment or discrimination to offer their support. If a rider (likely unintentionally) harasses or discriminates against another rider, ride leaders are encouraged to speak to that person directly and ask them to refrain from the harmful behavior. This guide from Harvard University may be a helpful resource for speaking to a rider who is causing harm.
- Ride leaders are encouraged to foster a sense of community among riders, and to strive to make their rides welcoming and inclusive, especially for new riders. For instance, they might note at the beginning of a ride that we’re here to look out for each other, make sure no one is riding alone, and communicate with each other if we have been hurt or are struggling to keep up. Ride leaders can also encourage regular riders to get to know and look after new riders. If it becomes apparent new riders are not on an appropriate ride, leaders can encourage them to join more appropriate club rides.
- Ride leaders are encouraged to be aware that the impact of their words and actions may be different than their intentions, and be open to feedback from others. Ride leaders are encouraged to seek consent before making physical contact with another rider, helping a rider with their bike, or sharing advice. Ride leaders are strongly encouraged to refrain from unsolicited comments on another rider’s body or appearance.
- Ride leaders are encouraged to recruit a “sweep” who will ride at the back of the ride with the slowest riders (this can be done on the spot at the ride start). This may be especially important for rides that attract new riders or when a leader anticipates a significant proportion of riders will ride faster than the posted pace.
Notes on Guidelines
The Guidelines should be considered "guidelines" only. No coercion is intended, nor is it expected that everyone will follow every guideline on all rides, people being people, and life being as it is. However, most of these are based on common sense and general concepts of sociability; they are therefore deemed reasonable and in the interest of avoiding misunderstandings and disappointment by riders and leaders alike. Generally speaking, it is more important to abide by these guidelines on rides listed at slower paces, when the pack is small, and when newcomers are present.
Quickstart Guide to Leading
Here is a quick checklist of what's needed to lead a GPC ride. There is a lot more detail in the Additional Resouces section below, but this should get you started, especially if this is your first time.
- Select an appropriate route. You can make up your own, or choose something from Routes. If you aren't completely familiar with the route, pre-ride it so you won't have any surprises.
- Choose a date for your ride. If you want to try avoiding days with similar rides, consult the Ride Schedule to see what is currently planned.
- Consult the Ride Ratings for details on how to rate the ride in your listing.
- Submit a ride listing using our Ride Listing Tool. If you need help with your listing, contact .
- Prepare route maps and/or cue sheets.
- Print some GPC sign-up sheets and bring them, or study our information about fully electronic sign-ins.
- Also consider bringing:
- Spare tube(s), patch kit, pump, emergency toolkit.
- Extra energy bar or similar, in case anyone bonks.
- Cell phone, if you have one, for emergencies.
- Basic first aid kit, as appropriate for the ride.
- Arrive 5 minutes early (20 minutes for Novice and Century Prep rides).
- Introduce yourself, welcome riders, and explain the route.
- Count riders as you leave; then make a periodic head count during the ride.
- Remember to submit your sign-up sheets. For more information see Submittal of Sign-in Sheets.
Some of our more experienced ride leaders have contributed the following tips, which you may find helpful.
- Ann Lehr: Novice Leader Guidelines outline for pre-ride meeting
- Mark Abrahams:
- Jeanie Barnett: Leading a GPC Ride, Some Comments on philosophy, approach, and details
The club encourages leaders to be familiar with routes that they lead and to pre-ride or scout a route in advance if that will help. Because scouting rides are not listed, they are not automatically covered by the club's accident medical insurance, but they are if you follow this procedure.
Ride Leader Guidelines 1-9 originated at a special club meeting on ride pace and etiquette held 7 December 1999. Details were worked out at a followup committee meeting on 5 February 2001, and a draft was published on-line and in the March 2001 Wheel Truth, p 16. They were adopted by unanimous vote at the regular club meeting of 16 May 2001.
Ride Leader Guidelines 10 and 11 were adopted at the regular club meeting of 13 August 2008, although they had been "common knowledge" for a long time preceding.
Ride Leader Guideline 12 was adopted at the regular club meeting of 10 August 2011.
Ride Leader Guideline 13 was adopted at the regular club meeting of 11 February 2015.
Ride Leader Guidelines 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 10, and 14-17 were updated/adopted through unanimous vote at the regular club meeting on July 12, 2023, after being published in the July 2023 Wheel Truth. Ride Leader Guidelines 2, 3, 6, and 10 were updated to reflect digital procedures for posting rides and routes. Ride Leader Guidelines 5 and 10 were updated to encourage leaders to advertise rides as no-drop and to ride the posted pace, respectively. Ride Leader Guidelines 14-17 originated from GPC’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee. These guidelines were adapted from Bike East Bay’s community agreements as part of efforts to create a welcoming environment on rides.