Rant 2 – About leading rides and pulling the line.

When riding, regularly, with a group there are some courtesies, beyond those of safe riding that should be observed.  Unfortunately, too many of the people I ride with fail to observe these courtesies.


There is one ride Susan and regularly join on week days (the benefits of being retired or out of work).  This ride does have two people that lead most of the time.  Some of us will try to lead a couple of times a season to give the group a different route or destination and to give the regular leaders a break.

The riding we generally do on weekends does have a rotation of about a dozen leaders. Some lead regularly, some sporadically.

To all the above people, Thank you.

For those of you who lead without a clue.

  • Know your route cold, or know how to modify it on the fly if necessary.  Drive it or ride it.  Improve it if you do not like it.
  • You are leading a group, not just riding.  Pay attention to your speed vs. the group’s speed and how much they are stretched out.
  • Take the lead seriously.

For those of you who do not lead rides . . . come on people.  Your excuses/objections/reasons are,  for the most part, lame.

Reason 1 –  I am new to the area and/or this group.
Reply 1 – That is a legitimate reason to not be leading, for the time being.

Reason 2 – I don’t know any routes.
Reply 2 – So learn some.  Get a map, drive the route. Go online to Mapmyride, Bikely or Google Maps.

Reason 3 – I am directionally challenged.
Reply 3  – You don’t believe and no one else does.  You drive your car from point A to point B.   A bike ride is merely connecting A to B to C to D.

Reason 4 – I am one of the slowest one in the group.
Reply 4  – Actually a reasonable concern.  However, that does not mean you cannot lead.  So, it will be a slower ride. That is actually nice now and then, particularly at the beginning and  end of the cycling season.

For those of you who CAN, but DO NOT, help the leader PULL.

Let’s keep this simple.

  • You are in a line, but not an organized pace line with rotating pulls.
  • You are a strong enough rider to pull this line yourself, at least for awhile.
  • You are riding fast enough to generate wind or there is a cross wind or headwind.
  • Your leader is out in front take the brunt of the work, while you are working significantly less by drafting.

Do you THINK, the leader may like a break?
Regardless of if you are asked, take a turn.
I have pulled entire rides for 40 miles.  Great exercise, but totally exhausting.

And when you pull, do so responsibly.
Make sure you are not going so fast that you lose the people behind you.
If you need to slow down momentarily, say “Slowing” in your outdoor voice.
If you need to slow down the pace line because YOU are tired, don’t.  Pull off to the left and indicate to the 2nd rider that he or she should pull for awhile.

Group riding is a shared experience.  You can take most of the time, but you need to give back as well.