Potential New Ride Leaders- important information

Potential New Ride Leaders- important information

Information for Potential New Ride Leaders with CTC Lothians and Borders

Being a ride leader is enjoyable and rewarding. If you are a regular cyclist and a member of our group why not consider becoming a ride leader or speak to other ride leaders to get more information?  We are always pleased to have new volunteers and there is no commitment to a set number of rides. If you can’t manage your set day, it is usually straightforward to swap with another leader.

Cycling UK have a comprehensive 31 page handbook for ride leaders which can be downloaded from:


There is also information on Ride and Event Organiser Insurance here:


Information on how to lead a ride with CTC Lothians and Borders.

Before the ride:

There are winter and a summer programmes which are compiled by the rides organisers. They will allocate a destination for a picnic in the summer and a hall or café in the winter. They will also allocate a start point. They will ask for volunteers for each of the rides and leaders agree based on availability.

The leader plans a suitable route taking into account the Runs Information on the website and the time of year. https://www.cyclinguk.org/group/page/cycle-rides-list-and-timetable

It is advisable to recce the route if you are unfamiliar with the roads.

The runs organiser also provides details of the hall and you should check that all is in order a day or two before the ride.  It can also be useful to advise a café lunch stop if a large group is expected.

The leader posts details of the run on the yahoo group a few days before the ride.


You should check the weather.  Occasionally leaders do have to cancel rides if particularly in very strong wind or icy conditions.  The riders are asked to assemble at 9.50 am to allow 10 minutes for the leader to take a register and collect any contact details from new riders.  An up-to-date list of contact details is sent out monthly to leaders. Do check that new riders have read the Riding Guidelines.


On the ride:

The leader should give an indication of the proposed route, toilet stops, lunch and coffee stops. They should also indicate any likely hazards- poor surfaces or roadworks etc.  They should also do a head count and suggest the number of people per group when on busy roads. The leader should ask for a volunteer to be back marker.

On the ride, it improves the safety of those behind to point out potholes and other hazards and oncoming cars. As a regular rider, you will have learned how this is communicated by our group.

Most rides have a degree of mixed ability amongst the riders, particularly the Sunday rides where people attend less frequently and so it is helpful if the leader stops now and again at appropriate safe points to reassemble the groups and assess how all the riders are faring.  A short stop for the slower riders is often much appreciated.  If the groups are spread out, a turning point may not be visible to the group behind, so the leader should either stop at a safe point before or after the junction or allocate someone to act as a signpost.

Role of the Back Marker

The back marker indicates to the leader when the whole group has come up and keeps the whole group together.  The back marker also keeps an eye on the slowest of the riders and will encourage them to keep up with the group.  If a member cannot keep up the backmarker will advise the leader and they will discuss with the rider the best options to get home safely.

Punctures and mechanical problems

Ride leaders do not have to be able to change an inner tube although it is definitely a useful skill to have and we would encourage anyone to practice. If a puncture occurs there may be experienced cyclists willing to help the rider, but ultimately a rider is responsible for getting him or herself home.  As leader, you should offer advice to the rider on ways they might do this and confirm with them that they know what to do. 


If a rider has a minor injury but wishes to continue with the ride, it would be appropriate to check after a while that they are still feeling ok.  If a rider is injured and wishes to leave the ride on their bike, consider offering a companion to see them home.  If a rider is injured and cannot continue with the ride, make arrangements for them to be picked up by a friend or taxi or ambulance if necessary.  For any significant event, you should complete an incident form and copy in the Chair and Secretary.

You can find a copy of the incident form below.

Top Tips from our regular ride leaders.

No matter how experienced a leader, things can sometimes not go as planned!  Here are some common challenges that you may wish to keep a look out for:

Leaders should not assume that everyone who joins a ride especially on a Sunday is an experienced cyclist.  Emphasise that everyone should have read the safe riding guidelines.

You could consider emphasising two or three points which you think are particularly pertinent to your route or the weather conditions etc.

Riders can get caught up in their conversations and lose concentration.  Leaders are not likely to see this as they are in front.  If you get any feedback from other members of the group about a rider who may endanger themselves or others, it would be appropriate to have a tactful quiet word.  

When a large group is subdivided into an ideal subgrouping of around 6 on busy roads, the subgroups, nevertheless tend to string out.  Some leaders allocate a leader for each group others rely on riders counting the numbers in front and leaving a suitable gap.  However, a leader can help by keeping the pace comfortable for slower riders so they do not lag behind their own subgroup.

Bunching up at junctions.  Try not to wait for stragglers at junctions by anticipating a turn and stopping before or after at a safe place where we don’t block the traffic.

Double punctures!  When the offending thorn or shard cannot be found, it is worth remembering that there could be another puncture and check that the rider and back marker are part of a group.

To become a ride leader:

Once you have familiarised yourself with this information, ask the leader on your next ride if you could ride with them so that they can point out what they are doing and you can ask questions.

You may only need to do this once but free to do this as often as you want until you are comfortable with the process.

You might want to look at the programme and ask one of the leaders in the future if they would allow you to plan and assist them in leading their ride with them acting as mentor to give feedback.  You may need to do this only once but you need to be guided by their feedback.  You can do this again if you or they feel you need more practice. 

Alternatively, you can ask the rides conveners to include you in the next season's programme and ask one of the registered leaders to be your mentor on the day. 

You should discuss your proposed route with your mentor beforehand.  You can use maps or GPS devices and consider doing a recce. If you need help with any aspect of route planning, Mapometer, Strava, Garmin or any other online tool ask around and there will be someone willing to help.

When you and your mentor are satisfied, the committee with arrange for you to be registered as a volunteer leader with Cycling UK.  They can let the rides organiser know and you will be included in the next programme.  You can choose whether you want to lead rides on a Sunday or a Wednesday but most people prefer to start on the shorter rides.


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I have spent ages trying to find the Handbook and Toolkit from the CUK website. Can somebody explain where it is? I've tried Advice, Rides, Insurance and all the other sub groups.