Meet our volunteers: Ride leader, Jim Gardner

A man and woman pose for the camera holding a certificate of thanks, a group of cyclists stand behind in a cafe
Jim Gardner receives a certificate of thanks from Cycling UK's Julie Rand
Jim has been a ride leader for about eight years for Cycling UK member group Lancaster and South Lakes CTC. He tells volunteer communications officer Julie Rand about the role and why he enjoys it

What made you decide to volunteer your skills?

I felt I had the ability to lead rides and we needed to help out with organising some rides as leaders weren't forthcoming so it was being left to a few to lead. Also, I noticed that we rarely had someone with first aid skills on rides and as I was a first aid instructor, I felt my presence would be a bonus and a safety feature as we have had a few minor incidents. 

How much time are you able to commit?

I am usually free for the Tuesday morning rides for about four hours, and on Thursdays I can usually manage the whole day riding up to eight hours.

How long have you been a ride leader?

I think I have been leading for about eight years. 

What do you enjoy most about being a ride leader?

Looking at maps and working out interesting convoluted routes with plenty of scenery and on quiet roads not often used by us or other road users, with coffee and lunch stops included.

How about the return to activity after lockdown, have things returned to normal?

Things haven't returned to normal - the number coming out is well below that before lockdown. As at late 2022, the numbers are starting to increase but not like they were pre-lockdown. Pre-lockdown we could have as many as into the mid-20s, now it is in the mid teens. 

Have there been any challenges to overcome?

Finding coffee stops and lunch stops because the places we had used before lockdown have closed. As far as the members were concerned, it was how I could make a ride interesting enough to attract riders.

Which achievements are you most proud of?

Being thanked by the other riders for an interesting and enjoyable ride (and organising the weather!).

How has volunteering in cycling enhanced your own life?

I have made many new friends and we get on so well and whilst physically it can sometimes be hard, especially in wet weather, mentally it is very relaxing.

What would you say to someone considering becoming ride leaders?

Go for it - you will enjoy it. I do!

What do you think of our new ride leader training course?

I have found the course very interesting and I feel that many of the leaders I am involved with would benefit from taking the course. The group I am associated with are of the the upper age group and are all experienced riders, as you will have witnessed when you met us, so some of the advice on the training course really was down the experience (and common sense).