Leading rides – a rough guide

This guide is designed to help members who are thinking of offering to lead a ride.

1. Getting the initial idea for a ride

Rides can start from various initial ideas, such as:

A convenient station to start and finish
A suitable lunch stop
An interesting landmark to cycle past or visit
An area of country (or town) which is worth exploring
Previous rides (for details see “Ride Reports” tab above)

and so on …

2. Planning a route

Decide on the start and finish point, usually a station or the pier in Brighton.
Use an Ordinance Survey map and/or Google Earth to find a route.
Avoid main roads as far as possible.
Tracks and footpaths are good ways to avoid traffic, but they need to have reasonably good surfaces – rides across rough country are not popular.
Identify a possible lunch stop – often a pub, but it could be a café or a picnic.
It’s a good idea to cycle the whole ride beforehand, though not essential if you’re sticking to roads that you can see clearly on a map or on Google Earth.  A practice ride lets you investigate possible alternative routes and forewarns you of possible problems.
Finalise your route and record it in some way for your own future reference – e.g. by marking it on a map.

3. Fixing a date

Check the latest newsletter to find a suitable free date
Check that a normal train service is running if needed (www.nationalrail.co.uk) – look out particularly for buses replacing trains.
If starting from Brighton Pier check for events which may block the route (search for “events” on http://www.brightn-hove.gov.uk).
Contact Ian and tell him your date and a descriptive title for your ride.

4. Arranging lunch etc.

Morning coffee stops are rare, though there in no rule against them.
Lunch is normally at a pub, or occasionally a café or picnic.
It’s important to have a clear arrangement with the pub – start by checking that they have a varied and reasonably priced Sunday menu.   Then visit or phone and make a provisional booking for between 5 and 10 people with an arrangement to phone on the ride morning with a definite number.   (Avoid pubs which insist on firm numbers any earlier.) When agreeing the arrival time at the pub, bear in mind that the group will travel more slowly than you would do on a practice ride; Clarion groups only average about 5 mph.
In summer a picnic may be an option – the ideal picnic location is as follows, though you may not manage to meet all these criteria:

Suitable places to sit and eat
Toilets or suitable bushes nearby
Shelter in case of rain
Shop for supplies nearby or en route during the morning
Attractions such as a beach to swim from or a nice view

A tea stop during the afternoon is not essential but is usually popular, ideally near the end of the ride so those in a hurry can keep going.

5. Announcing the ride

Ian will need a write-up announcing the ride by the date of the previous ride, so it can go in the newsletter.   Your description of the ride can be as sparse or as detailed as you wish but you should include the following essential information:

Where and when to meet – usually a station or Brighton Pier.
How to get to the station – suitable train times from Brighton and Hove
Distance (approx will do) – rides are normally about 20 miles (shorter in mid winter).
Hills – be honest – some members like to avoid hilly rides.
Terrain – give an idea of how much of the ride is on rougher terrain such as tracks or footpaths.
Catering – identify the lunch venue, making clear if a picnic is needed.
Getting home – make clear where the ride ends; if it’s a station, give an idea of train times back to Brighton and Hove.
Give your mobile phone number.

6. Cancelling a ride

Once a ride has been announced, the assumption is that it will go ahead. However, it’s a good idea to look at a weather forecast on the day beforehand (www.bbc.co.uk/weather). If the forecast looks really bad (snow, ice or lots of heavy rain) you may decide it should be cancelled.   A cancellation email needs to be sent out by Ian by 5pm on the day before the ride, so if you do want to cancel, contact Ian a reasonable time before then.   The same would apply if you have to cancel for personal reasons, but, if possible, contact Ian or other members first to see if anyone else can take over as leader.

7. On the day – starting the ride

Be at the meeting point in good time.
Allow a few minutes for late arrivals and then count how many riders there are.
Ask for a volunteer to write a report – someone usually volunteers, though not always immediately; if no one offers you should simply make sure that Ian knows that the ride did take place and (if possible) who was on it.
Phone the pub (if necessary) with the final number for lunch.

8. On the ride – leading the ride

There are two essential things that ride leaders must remember:

Each rider is responsible for their own safety while on the road.
Clarion never leaves anyone behind – so if you reach a point where it’s not completely clear which way to go, wait until everyone has caught up; if a rider is missing, wait while someone goes back to find them.

Other suggestions:

If you’re stopping to let people catch up, choose a spot where there’s room to get out of the way of traffic.
Carry a whistle – useful at a stop if people are gossiping.
Stop and warn everyone if you are about to cross a busy road or junction, reminding them that they are responsible for their own safety.
If there’s a breakdown or puncture, wait while it’s fixed.
If you’re running behind time, phone the pub to warn them.
If a decision is needed, consult others if you want to, but then announce a clear decision –people want the leader to lead.

Roger Hinton 6/2/14

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