Ride Leader Guidelines

(Last revised - April 2021)

Intro -- What is a Ride Leader?

Before the Ride

   1.1 Documentation

   1.2 Preparation

   1.3 Assessing the Group

   1.4 Pre-Ride Discussion

   1.5 Tools

   1.6 Dealing with Large Groups

During the Ride

   2.1 Splitting Groups Mid-Ride

   2.2 Communication

   2.3 General Guidelines

   2.4 Accidents and Medical Emergencies

After the Ride

   3.1 At the Finish

   3.2 Later

Intro -- What is a Ride Leader?

Congratulations and thank you for volunteering to be a Jersey Shore Touring Society (JSTS) ride leader.  Becoming a ride leader allows the club to continue to offer a robust riding schedule for our members.

In this role, you will be representing the club to all current and new members.  You might possibly inspire other members to step up and become ride leaders, thus helping sustain the club.

The role of the ride leader is to give advice and instruction to the group regarding the route or process to be followed.  It is NOT just giving the safety speech before the ride.  As a ride leader, your primary responsibility is to provide direction for the group before, during, and after the ride, with the goal of the group completing the ride SAFELY. 

HOWEVER, keep in mind that this should not dominate your ride – you are there to have FUN just like the rest of the group.  ALSO, with very few exceptions, all the members of the club are ADULTS.  Ultimately, they are responsible for their own actions.  The key to providing direction for a safe ride is CLEAR COMMUNICATION, between the leader and the group, as well as among the members of the group. 

In order to carry out this responsibility, the club members empower you with the authority to make certain decisions in directing the ride and the club members agree to follow your decisions. For example, you may find the need to stop a ride and address a situation that requires immediate attention or expulsion of a member from the ride, for the good of the group.

A ride leader wears many helmets, most of which involve monitoring the route and the group. At other times, however, problems or even emergencies may arise, requiring clear-headed thinking.

Ride leaders are role models and are well respected by the members.  The riders will look forward to joining all rides that you have volunteered to lead because you offer a safe and enjoyable experience.

Forget which rides you are scheduled to lead?  Just go to the Ride Calendar on the website, click on "Switch to List View" on the right side just above the calendar, then use your browsers "Find..." function to find your name.

Before the Ride

1.1 Documentation

  • As a ride leader you are now a member of the JSTS Google Groups system, which allows you to post updates and cancellation messages to the membership for the rides you are leading. 

  • If the situation requires a communication to the riders go to the JSTS website and select “Rides” then select “Ride Calendar.”  Next, select the specific ride, then on the upper right hand side of the page is a link: Ride Leader - SEND EMAIL ABOUT THIS RIDE This link will launch a “compose email” tab in your browser that will be pre-populated with the appropriate email address in the “BCC” field (jsts-road@googlegroups.com for road and virtual rides; jsts-mountain@googlegroups.com for mountain bike rides).  Do not change it.  Leave the “To” and “cc” fields blank.   Also, the subject line will be pre-populated with all of the specifics about the ride.  Do not change the ride specifics as pre-populated in the subject, though you may append additional information as needed..  For example, you may append “ - CANCELLED” to the subject if you are cancelling a ride.   In the body of the email you should type your message and then select the SEND button.

  • If you are unable to lead a ride as scheduled, please try to find a substitute leader as soon as possible. In some cases, a member registered for your scheduled ride may be an appropriate substitute, if, for example, they have previously led rides. If you find a substitute, please email the club’s ride coordinator at ride.coordinator@jsts.us with the change as soon as possible. If you do not find a substitute, please email the ride coordinator and inform them that the scheduled ride does not have a leader.

  • Members are expected to download the planned route to their GPS device or bring their own route sheets.  Having a few route sheets on hand can help out new riders or those who forget, but this is not a requirement.  You should remind all riders that it is their responsibility to come to the ride with the route downloaded to their GPS device or bring their own route sheet.

  • All riders are required to register for rides they are  participating in, and this includes the ride leader.  You should register for the rides you are leading as soon as possible (do not wait until the day before).

1.2   Preparation

  • Download the RWGPS planned route to your GPS device or have a route sheet.

  • Review the route to become familiar with the course.  Know where the rest stops are located.  You may want to consult online sources such as Google Maps or local government websites to determine if any roads on the route are closed and devise a plan to deal with them.  The club’s ride coordinator may be able to provide you with appropriate detours.

  • If the weather forecast is not conducive to a ride, send out an email to the group at least 90 minutes prior to the posted start time.

  • Arrive at the start location at least 15-20 minutes prior to the start so that you are prepared when riders begin to arrive.

  • Review the list of registrants on the Wild Apricot Member App or from the JSTS website to make sure that ALL riders have registered for the ride.

1.3 Assessing the Group

  • Identify new riders and take the opportunity to assess their bikes and their suitability for that particular ride.  Ask about their current riding status (such as how far they’ve ridden, at what pace they ride, etc.), to try and determine if they might have a problem keeping up with the group.  

  • If a rider is physically unprepared, lacks adequate water, snacks, spare tube, pump, or their bike is not suited to the ride or in good working order, then the ride leader can ask that rider to join one of the easier ride categories or to come back another time when they are better prepared.

  • Although it might seem harsh to turn back a rider at the start or at some point before you get too far along on the ride, it is not fair to hold the group up every few miles waiting for that person to catch up.  

  • Take a physical count of the riders in your group including yourself. Verify the count when regrouping and at rest stops (leaders of sub-groups should be asked to do the same).

1.4 Pre-Ride Discussion

  • Leave yourself time to formulate your pre-ride talk to the group. The importance of a pre-ride discussion cannot be overemphasized.  It lets riders know what you expect from them and what they can expect from you.

  • Try to keep it brief. Cover topics that will ensure a safe and pleasant ride.

  • Introduce yourself. Welcome everyone on behalf of JSTS, especially new riders to the group.  Describe the ride, including distance and pace.  Inform the group of any changes to the route due to road conditions that may not be reflected in the RWGPS file or on the route sheet.

  • Discuss safety concerns, emphasizing predictable, single-file riding, as well as being attentive to local traffic laws and using common sense.

  • Notify the group that you’ll be indicating your intentions by using hand and voice signals, such as stopping, slowing, left turn, etc., and calling out conditions such as holes, glass, grate, etc. Inform riders you expect them to do the same.

  • Encourage all riders to ride at a steady, constant effort, and not to surge.  All rides are no-drop.

  • Remind riders that the use of aero bars is prohibited on all club rides.

  • Ask if anyone has questions about the ride, such as mileage, rest stops, food, etc.  

  • Explain that if a rider surges ahead of the group and misses a turn, then they are on their own.

  • Ask that the riders at the back of the group keep an eye out for any lagging riders so that the group does not lose or drop any rider.

1.5 Tools

  • Inform riders they are responsible for their own provisions. They should carry an extra tube on group rides.

  • Encourage riders to carry a basic multi-tool (including Allen keys), tire levers, patch kit, tire boot and pump or CO2 cartridge capable of inflating tire pressure to a level suitable for the type of ride you are leading.

1.6 Dealing with Large Groups

  • Break large groups into smaller riding groups that are appropriate to the pace and route.  

  • Arrange for sub-group leaders to watch out for everyone in the sub-group. Ensure that the sub-group ride leader knows how to access all riders’ cell and emergency contact information via the Wild Apricot Member App.

  • Be sure each sub-group leader has either the route downloaded to their GPS device or a route sheet.  

During the Ride

2.1 Splitting the Group Mid-Ride

  • Sometimes the need will arise to split the group after the ride is underway.  Some riders may want to ride at a slower pace later in the ride or may want to stop more often for breaks.  The ride leader may choose to ride with either sub-group, and should ensure that each sub-group has a leader so that no one gets dropped.    

  • Each sub-group should have at least two (2) riders.  Every effort should be made to ensure that no rider ends up riding alone.

  • Arrange for sub-group leaders to watch out for everyone in the sub-group. Once again, ensure that the sub-group ride leader knows how to access all riders’ cell and emergency contact information via the Wild Apricot Member App.

  • Be sure each sub-group leader has either the route downloaded to their GPS device or a route sheet.  

2.2 Communication

  • Encourage the group to communicate using signals to help the people in the back of the pack avoid potholes and obstacles that they generally can't see until it's too late. 

  • Pointing with your hand is generally enough to warn the other riders of obstacles in the roadway. Call out if it is something particularly hazardous in the roadway, or if there is something in the surroundings that other riders should be aware of.  Use something short and easy to understand.  The following are a few of the standard calls used by JSTS riders:   

  • HOLE [IN or OUT]:  Pothole [IN = on the right; OUT = on the left]

  • ROUGH ROAD:  Road surface is uneven and possibly dangerous.

  • TRACKS:  Railroad tracks.

  • GLASS:   Broken glass in the road.

  • GRAVEL (or SAND or STICKS):  Hazardous material in the road.

  • WATER:  Water in the road.

  • GRATE (or, if appropriate, DOUBLE GRATE):  Sewer grate in the road.

  • CAR RIGHT (or LEFT):  A car is coming from that direction.

  • CAR BACK (or CAR UP):  A car is coming from the rear (or front). 

  • ON YOUR LEFT (or if unavoidable, RIGHT):  I am close at your side or intend to pass on your left (or right).  Passing on the right is typically avoided unless absolutely necessary

  • SLOWING:  Riders in front are slowing. 

  • STOPPING:  Riders in front are stopping.

  • Instruct other riders that may be in the front of the group to call out "CLEAR" to indicate that an intersection is free of cross traffic. Ride leaders should make sure the group is aware that each rider should take proper precautions prior to going through an intersection to make sure that the road is clear of vehicles. 

  • Instruct riders to call out the phrase “MECHANICAL for any instance in which they need to group to come to a stop. This can be a physical issue or a bicycle-related mechanical issue that requires the rider in need to stop.

2.3 General Guidelines

  • Set a good example. Ride safely and be predictable so motorists and pedestrians can anticipate your actions. Remember that you represent the Jersey Shore Touring Society. 

  • Ensure riders are not overlapping their front wheel to another riders’ rear wheel. This is extremely dangerous.  If the leading rider swerves across the trailing rider’s path and hits his or her front wheel, the trailing rider is almost certain to take a spill (and the leading rider may as well).

  • If a rider in your group is riding carelessly and not practicing safe cycling, if comfortable, you may speak to the rider and ask them to modify their riding behavior for safety. If the rider continues to be troublesome after you’ve spoken with him or her, politely but firmly insist that they leave the group. If necessary, stop the group and wait until the rider leaves before the group continues. If the issue is very flagrant, and/or the rider refuses to leave the group, please inform the BOARD of the situation as soon as possible. 

  • If, for any reason, you are not comfortable speaking to a rider, please inform the BOARD of the situation as soon as possible.

  • Ask riders to try to stay together as a group (or sub-group in the case of split groups).  Take a headcount periodically to confirm that all riders are still with the group (or sub-group). If a rider is not with the group, try to call or text them to determine their status (their contact information is listed in the Wild Apricot Member App under “Registrants” for the ride).

2.4 Accidents and Medical Emergencies

  • When you’re on a ride and an accident or medical emergency occurs, teamwork is critical.  Direct the group as follows (depending on the group size, one person may need to do multiple tasks):

  • Have one person take charge of the victim (usually a leader).


  • Have someone else direct traffic around the site until help arrives.

  • Have someone else get all cyclists off the road.

  • Have another person call 911 on a cell phone or flag down a passing car.  If the accident occurred with a moving vehicle, call 911 immediately.

  • Ask someone to write down, or record using audio or video, the details of what happened, as it is easy to forget the details. Record the victim’s reactions, as this information could be critical to emergency personnel.

  • Have someone take photos of the accident including the bike, vehicle, location (such as street signs or house addresses), helmet and the injured rider.

  • When accidents occur, an accident report should be completed after the ride (for insurance purposes).  The form is available on the club’s web site.

  • If it is determined that the rider cannot continue on the ride, ask for two (2) volunteers to stay with the rider. NEVER LEAVE A RIDER ALONE.

  • If the rider is deemed capable of continuing the ride, you may need to have two (2) other riders support the injured person to make it back to the start location safely.

After the Ride

3.1  At the Finish

  • Make certain all the riders are accounted for.

  • Thank everyone for coming out.

  • Ask for any comments and suggestions about the ride and the club.

  • Make any general announcements about upcoming JSTS events.

3.2  Later

  • Call, text or email any rider who was injured to check on their condition.  Advise the board if there were any notable incidents on the ride, including accidents, etc.

  • Send pictures and corresponding comments to the club’s social media coordinator at social.media@jsts.us.

Jersey Shore Touring Society is a 501(c)(7) non-profit organization.  P.O. Box 8581, Red Bank, NJ 07701

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