What's involved with being a ride leader? Is it just riding at the front or is there more to it than that?
Firstly, the route.
You need to know where you are going. Sometimes rides do change mid ride, due to road
works, traffic or weather, but generally you need to know what roads you are taking. The Tail End Charlie and other road captains also need to know, just in case a wrong turn is made or the group is separated. Make sure the Tail End Charlie has your phone number and vice versa.
The main rule for ALL OTHER RIDERS is that you follow the leader. If we get lost, at least we get lost together. That way we don't lose any riders.
Now for the ride.
Before we leave, the group needs to know where we are going. Whether it is the ride leader or someone else, it doesn't matter who does the ride briefing, just as long as it is done.
As we start to head out, we are usually going through town before hitting the country roads. This means there will be traffic, intersections and possibly lights. Trying to keep the group together can be a bit of a mission, so make sure there is a place to regroup if needed once you are through these obstacles.
Taking off from intersections.
Don't be tempted to squeeze through an orange light. If there is time to stop safely, do. This will keep everyone together.
From 50km to 100km zones.
If you are riding on your own, as soon as you hit the 100km sign you will speed up, but with a group, if this happens then the group will be spread out, especially if there are a lot of riders. So pace yourself. Still accelerate, but do it slower than if you were riding on your own. This will give the tail end riders time to get into the faster zone and everyone will stay together.
Passing slower traffic.
Again, if you are riding on your own, overtaking is easy, as you only have the length of your bike to consider. But in a group you need to ensure there is room for more than one bike to pass. You may not get all the group past slow traffic in one go, but the more that pass, the better. Once past the slow vehicle make sure you keep your speed up so there is enough space for the other bikes to pass.
You need to give the riders behind you enough warning of an upcoming turn or hazard. This may mean you indicate a bit earlier than you would normally.
You will find during the ride that you spend a fair amount of time looking in your mirror to make sure everyone is with you. If you haven't seen the end of the group for some time, find somewhere to pull over so we can all regroup. After all, this is a group ride, not a 'need to catch up with the leader' ride.
What else would you add to this list for a ride leader?