There are a lot of great reasons to ride in a group—it’s fun, for one thing. Doing an activity with other like-minded people enhances the experience by creating a feeling of camaraderie. It’s also a great way to get stronger because people tend to push themselves a little harder in a group. But group rides don’t happen if someone doesn’t lead them.
Have you ever thought about leading a group?
You might think that the most important quality in a ride leader is to be wicked strong. If they’re leading it, they’ve gotta be fast and have all the right gear and know all the lingo. Right?
Actually, there are a lot of qualities in a great ride leader that rank higher than how many QOMs they’ve racked up. Here’s our list of qualities in a great ride leader:
Top Seven Qualities in a Great Ride Leader
A great ride leader shares all the information riders will need to know in order to participate. This is more than just where and when. In order to know if the ride is right for them, riders need to know ride length, expected pace, whether it’s no-drop or for-the-win, and if it’s a single-sex ride or open to all genders. There are a lot of great social media options for sharing info. Our local clubs post rides on Facebook, Strava, and our local cycling Listserv. Strava is especially great because you can post the route and people can see exactly what they’re getting into.
As leader, you do need to know where you’re going. Great ride leaders map out a route beforehand. Using tools like Strava or Ride with GPS they can easily share the route so riders can check it out. If this skill is new to you, ask around to the experienced ride leaders you know. They probably have routes you can use, or can recommend roads that would give the kind of route you’re looking for.
This doesn’t mean you have to be jazzed up or super extroverted, but being upbeat and positive about the ride you’re about to do helps break the ice and calm any jitters for newcomers and sets the tone of the ride.
Great leaders aren’t necessarily the fastest, but they know and follow the basic safety protocols and rules of the road and set the example for all the riders in the group to do the same.
There’s nothing worse than rolling up to a new ride where everyone already knows each other and you feel like the fifth wheel. Great ride leaders make everyone feel equally welcome and make a point of checking in with all participants.
Every rider on a group ride should be self-sufficient, but if someone flats and forgot their flat-repair tools, a great leader is prepared to step in and save the day.
Great leaders recognize that everyone has to start somewhere. They encourage riders to learn and improve their skills and fitness, wherever they’re starting from.