Guidance for all Cyclists
Riding in a Group
Ride Leaders

Guide for Ride Leaders

This guide is based on best practice and recommendations from Wheel Easy members, Cycling UK and others.

Your responsibilities

To ensure that you act in a manner which is a credit to the club and cycling in general:

  • by leading by example;
  • by maintaining a high awareness of road conditions and features, and other road users;
  • by riding safely and following the Highway Code, and
  • by controlling the ride for group riders’ enjoyment.

Please also make yourself familiar with the Wheel Easy ‘Guide to Cycling in a Group’.

Ride planning

  1. If you have not led a ride previously, seek advice from experienced ride leaders.
  2. To avoid unnecessary stops ensure, where possible, that you are familiar with the route, weather forecast, open cafes, toilets, any safety matters, and any road closures.
  3. If necessary, be prepared to take riders back to the Showground.
  4. Use discretion in allowing other riders to join en-route. It may increase safety issues.

At the ride start

  1. The maximum number in a group should be 9, and subdivision of a larger group should be based on faster/slower riders. It should be agreed who is leading and backmarking each group.
  2. Swap mobile numbers with the backmarker and consider offering your number to the group riders.
  3. Introduce yourself and the backmarker and identify newcomers. Ascertain their group-riding experience and, if necessary, ask others to help. Provide brief route and café stop details.
  4. Tell riders what you expect from them during the ride to make your life easier. Base this on 9., 11., and 12., below.

During the ride – safety

  1. When traffic is held up behind, the ride leader or backmarker should give instruction to open gaps in the ride (with at least 10 car lengths between groups of 3 or 4 riders) to help traffic to safely overtake.
  2. Give positive instruction to ride in single file when road and/or traffic conditions dictate.
  3. Always choose a safe place to stop as a group.  Avoid road junctions, bends and other physical road hazards, and keep the carriageway clear.
  4. Signals and shouts – Make signals and shouts in good time so they can be passed back through the group. Verbal direction should be given to a rider abreast:
  • “Car Back” means a vehicle coming from behind.
  • “Car Front” means a car approaching head on.  
  • “Glass”, “Pothole”, “Ice” or “Gravel” are obvious. Point to them.
  • “Stopping” is the most frequent shout and the most important. Shout your warning before braking, and brake smoothly.
  • “On the right” or “on the left” for other hazards, (e.g. walker, jogger, dog, parked car, etc.) requiring a change of direction. Or give a hand signal to indicate pulling out.
  • “Horses” is obvious. Slow down and, when closer, warn the horse rider verbally of the group’s presence. Obey any advice given by the rider.
  • Shout when approaching a major road, dual carriageway, mini-roundabout, ford, etc.
  • If helpful to drivers, let them know that you know they are there.
  • Be ambassadors for cycling, help drivers where possible, but DO NOT wave them past a moving group. This can be dangerous.
  1. If unsure of the route, stop safely and well before junctions to consult a map. Check for the presence of the backmarker at junctions. If necessary, wait for slower riders beyond and away from the junction and give them time to take a breather.

During the ride – control

  1. It is usually best to lead from the front, with a watchful eye to make sure the pace is right for all of the riders. If the group has spread out due to the pace, slow the ride down. If necessary, ask for a rider to wait at junctions.
    If there is no backmarker, consider riding within the group, to check if riders have any issues.
  2. Ignore overtaking riders, let them go on ahead. It is essential to keep the pace comfortable for the main group and to keep it together.
  3. When the route turns off at a junction, request a rider to wait for any slower riders. This keeps the group moving.
  4. Approaching a road junction warning sign, assess the junction and ease the speed of the ride if necessary. At a road coming from the left, try to establish eye contact with driver(s) waiting at, or approaching, the junction to encourage them to give way and to check that they are doing so.
  5. Ensure riders take extra care when leaving the ride, as motorists expect all riders to continue in the same direction.
  6. Tell riders where there will be a regroup e.g. at the top of a hill. Give slower riders time to recover. 

During the ride – riders in difficulty

  1. If someone becomes detached, consider how long you will wait for them. Your main responsibility is to the whole group, so be aware of daylight restrictions and bad weather.
  2. If a rider is unwell, has a puncture, or suffers mechanical failure, instruct the group to continue to a safe waiting place. Make reasonable endeavours to resolve the issue. If this is not possible, an experienced volunteer should stay with them, or you can advise they phone for help, or a taxi if necessary, rather than delay everyone.
  3. Check that a rider leaving the ride can return home by themselves. If in doubt, consider options.
  4. If there is an accident, appoint group members to ensure the casualty is safe, call 999, manage the traffic, clear the carriageway if possible and wait for the emergency services. Call the rider’s emergency contact. Make notes as to what happened, take photos, and take the names of group riders and any other witnesses.

v4 April 23