the peninsula bicycling association ride leaders handbook

the peninsula bicycling association ride leaders handbook
1. Why lead a ride? ..........................................................................Page 4
2. What's in this booklet? ...............................................................Page 4
3. If you've never led a ride before..................................................Page 5
4. What kind of ride do you want to lead? .................................... Page 5
5. Selecting a route .........................................................................Page 6
5-1. General considerations
5-2. Using an existing route
5-3. Choosing a published route
5-4. Designing your own route
6. Making maps and cue sheets .....................................................Page 8
6-1. Making a map
6-2. Making a cue sheet
6-3. Including the "Tips for safe riding" and the membership form
7. Submitting a ride description form...........................................Page 10
8. PBA’s no-discrimination policy……………...............................Page 11
9. PBA Ride waiver form ...…………………………………………...Page 11
10. Commercial activities ..............................................................Page 11
11. Non-PBA events ……………....................................................Page 12
12. Fielding phone calls from prospective riders .......................Page 12
13. Before the ride.........................................................................Page 12
13-1. Remember to bring everything
13-2. Basic tools
13-3. Get signatures, check on helmets, and get a count
13-4. Make a pre-ride announcement
14. Leading the ride .....................................................................Page 15
14-1. Leading from the front or the back of the group
14-2. The benefits of having a sweep
14-3. Using corner people to keep riders from getting lost
14-4. Controlling pace lines
15. After the ride ...........................................................................Page 19
16. Handling injuries ....................................................................Page 20
16-1. Handling severe accidents
16-2. What to do if one of your riders has an accident and is injured
16-3. Other concerns in the event of a severe accident
16-4. Who to notify in the event of an accident
16-5. Hypothermia
16-6. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke
16-7. Road rash
16-8. What to carry in a first-aid kit
16-9. Getting first-aid training
17. Handling other problems ........................................................Page 23
17-1. Riding in the rain
17-2. Avoiding lightning
17-3. Dangerous drivers
17-4. Dangerous riders in your group
17-5. Mechanical problems
18. Making a ride more fun............................................................Page 25
19. Tips for safe riding..................................................................Page 26
20. Day-of-ride checklist...............................................................Page 27
Written by Tregg Hartley with the input of
several PBA ride leaders.
Formatting by Scott Farrell and John Bright
1. Why lead a ride?
Someone said, "Why do we lead rides?" There was a pause. "Because we need more
variety and quantity of A/B/C/D pace rides." Another pause, then a wild, careening
peloton of ideas burst forth:
You get to choose the route, the pace, and the food stops. This means that you get
to share your favorite destinations and routes, ride at your preferred pace, and bring
a lot of people to your favorite eateries, wineries, and micro-breweries.
You meet new people who share at least one of your interests. This expands your
pool of potential riding partners (and friends), particularly folks who like to ride the
same way you do.
You can share your other interests, knowledge, or talents with people by leading
theme rides. At one time or another, leaders have led B&O Canal rides, beer runs,
ice cream rides, Tour de Swamp rides, MS150 rides, moonlight rides, bakery rides,
and rides with a multitude of other themes.
You can inspire people, motivate them, and get them excited about bicycling. Ride
leaders who lead regularly have countless tales of novices who can barely shift
gears on their first ride but who blossom into avid cyclists by the end of a season.
You can exercise your creativity in finding a route, writing the ride description,
designing the map or cue sheet, and creating the event.
You get to contribute something to the community by promoting cycling as an
attractive and healthy lifestyle.
It gets people out riding who don’t want to ride all by themselves.
Leading a ride makes you go riding yourself.
To encourage more people to join the PBA and Killer Bees.
PBA President tells you to.
2. What's in this booklet?
If you've led rides for the Peninsula Bicycling Association in the past, some of the
information in this booklet will already be familiar to you. However, you'll probably want
to look through these guidelines for ideas on how to make your rides even safer or more
fun, and as a refresher on the basics of ride leading. If you haven't led rides before, this
booklet will give you a good introduction to how you go about leading a safe, enjoyable
ride. You'll find information on how to select a route; what to do before, during, and after
the ride; how to handle problems and accidents; and how to make a ride more fun. At
the end, you'll also find tips on safe cycling, as well as some other tools to help you plan
and organize rides. These guidelines are primarily intended for one-day rides. However,
they can also help you prepare for leading overnight or multi-day rides.
Don't be daunted! We don't expect you to read the entire booklet cover to cover and
memorize it as if for a test. More likely, you'll want to use it as a reference for detailed
information on specific topics.
See the checklists at the end: We included a couple of checklists at the back, which
give a quick summary of the items you may want to bring to a ride and what to do
before and during the ride.
Not all guidelines apply to every ride: These guidelines are intended for all Peninsula
Bicycling Association rides. The focus is on the most common types of rides - social
rides at a slow or moderate pace with regular rest stops. You may need to adapt the
guidelines to fit your ride, especially if you lead faster rides with few or no stops and
highly experienced riders.
3. If you've never led a ride before
If you've ridden on a lot of club rides, you already know much of what you need to know
to lead a ride of your own. Not everything about leading rides is intuitively obvious
though. Thankfully, there are several resources available for learning more about how to
become a good ride leader. You can also learn more about being a good ride leader by
co-leading a ride with an experienced ride leader. Just ask any of the club's experienced
ride leaders if you can help with their next ride, or ask if they'll help you plan a ride of
your own. If you'd like to get to know a ride leader better, volunteer to sweep, which
means that you ride at the back and help the slower riders. You can also contact the
Ride Coordinator\Vice-President (listed in the Chainstay Newsletter) and our web page.
Ask for the name of someone who could give you a hand getting started. Finally, you
can sweet-talk a friend who has never led rides into jumping in with you.
4. What kind of ride do you want to lead?
Before you can select a route or make any of the other preparations necessary for a
successful ride, you need to decide what kind of ride you want to lead. Here are some
issues to consider:
Decide who you want to ride with - racers, who never stop for anything; parents with
children, who stop for every butterfly; or average riders, who slow down when riding
up hills and stop for a great view or a snack.
Decide on a pace, and be sure it matches the folks you want to ride with. If you want
to keep the company of parents and their children, you won't be leading a fast ride.
Also, be sure the pace you choose is one that you can very comfortably maintain for
the duration of the ride. If you're already at the outside edge of your abilities and you
drop back into the pack to check on one of your riders, you may have trouble
catching the front of the group.
Decide on a distance. As with the pace, tailor the distance to the people you want to
ride with. Not everybody comfortably ride 50 miles in a day, and fewer still can ride
80 or 100 miles.
Think about what time the ride should start. If it's an after work ride, keep in mind
that most folks won't be able to make a start earlier than 6 p.m. Consider, too, that a
Saturday ride starting at 10 a.m. tends to draw a larger crowd than a ride starting
Consider the season, particularly with respect to the probable weather and the
amount of available daylight. Most folks don't think of riding in a cold, dark rain as
being all that much fun. Be sure you're not conflicting with anything that could make
your ride very unpleasant.
5. Selecting a route
It's easy, right? You just draw lines on a map and make a bunch of copies. Close, but
there are one or two things you should consider first.
5-1. General considerations
Regardless of the means you use to choose a route, you should pre-ride or pre-drive
it so you know everything you need to about road conditions; mileage; and water,
lunch, and restroom stops. If you've been on the route but not recently, you may
want to go over it again to ensure that nothing has changed significantly — no long
detours over gravel roads, for example. If you're using a route that you've never
ridden or that you're designing on your own, it's even more important that you travel
it before the ride, preferably on a bicycle.
Choose a starting point that people can find easily and that has ample parking. If
possible, the starting point should also have nearby restrooms. If starting or leading
a ride near a church on Sunday, be aware of the increased traffic prior to and after
the service. You may want to adjust your start time to allow for this.
Consider food, water, and restroom breaks. Everyone needs to eat and drink, and
some bladders are weaker than others. If you're planning to stop for a lunch break,
there's a psychological advantage to stopping after the midpoint rather than before.
The riders who are feeling a bit tired can take solace in the knowledge that you're
over half way.
Note: If you're planning a restaurant stop, choose somewhere that serves both
vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes.
If you intend on including the Cap to Cap trail as part of your ride, understand that
portions of the trail do not support B pace and faster rides. This trail isn’t built for
speed, and it certainly isn’t built for crowds.
Wherever you go, remember to respect private property, and ride only in places
where bicycles are welcome.
5-2. Using an existing route
The best choice for a route is often one that you've ridden and enjoyed. Ride leaders
rarely mind if someone repeats one of their rides, so you needn't worry about
plagiarism. Feel free to add your own variations; just because you're borrowing
someone else's route doesn't mean that you can't give it your own touch. (A library of
cue sheets on our web page would help with this)
5-3. Choosing a published route??
Your neighborhood bike shop or book store very likely carries several books of bike
routes in Virginia, as well as individual cycling maps for specific areas. If you photocopy
a copyrighted map, scratch a note somewhere on the map that indicates the source and
author so riders who like the route or the map know which book or map to look for. You
may also want to include the total distance and a brief description of the terrain, for
example, "hilly" or "flat."
5-4. Designing your own route
If you decide to design your own route, here are a few suggestions. These suggestions
apply most of all to slower rides with inexperienced riders. If you're leading faster, more
experienced riders, adjust accordingly.
Safety is the deciding factor for all route-related decisions. If you can't find a safe
way to get somewhere, don't go there. Keep in mind that riding with a group is much
different from riding by yourself, and rarely is it easier.
Avoid intersections that are too close to a hill or a curve if the opposing traffic isn't
required to stop. You want your riders to have an ample view of oncoming traffic and
vice versa.
Avoid streets that are too narrow for cars to pass unless you'll only be traveling there
for a short distance. For example, some streets with medians only have enough
room for one lane of traffic in each direction. Some streets with traffic diverters only
have enough room for one lane of traffic, period.
Avoid crossing busy streets except at controlled intersections (those with stop signs
or stop lights).
Avoid heavily traveled, multi-lane roads whenever possible. If you find yourself with
no good alternatives, at least try to avoid making left turns. Even with the best of
riders, getting a group safely across two lanes of traffic so they can make the turn is
a dicey proposition. With inexperienced riders, it can only get worse.
In general, avoid taking a group on sidewalks. In Newport News, you can get a $50
ticket for riding on the sidewalk. However, on occasion, a short stretch of sidewalk is
clearly the safest, best way to get from point A to point B.
Unless you're leading a mountain-bike ride, avoid difficult riding surfaces whenever
possible, for example, rough or rutted roads, cobblestones, bridges with metal
decks, railroad tracks, dirt, gravel, grass, stairs, and so on. However, don't miss out
on a stunning overlook or a ride along the water just because the path is a short
stretch of gravel. Simply suggest that people walk if they'd rather.
Try to avoid surprises. Suppose, for example, that you choose a route on which
there's a steep uphill just after a turn. If you don't remember to warn riders in
advance, they'll all be so distracted trying to get into the correct gear that they won't
watch out for one another or for traffic. With an inexperienced group, some riders will
simply stop, with no thought to whether anyone might be behind them.
Note: If you can't circumvent a problem that may stymie your riders, try to warn
everyone during the ride, possibly at a stop immediately before you get to that location.
Study maps in search of promising back roads. However, be sure you pre-ride these
roads before the day of the ride, so you don't run into a washed-out bridge or 20
miles of rough gravel.
Explore. The best way to find spectacular views, pedestrian over- and underpasses,
wooden bridges, unusual houses, beautiful gardens, or anything else that won't
show up on a map is by traipsing around.
If you know a ride leader who has led rides in the area where you want to go, call
and ask for suggestions on roads to use or avoid, good places for mid-ride snacks,
scenic overlooks, mean dogs, and other relevant details.
6. Making maps and cue sheets
When you submit a ride description to the ride coordinator for publication on the PBA
web site and/or PBA Facebook Page , (see submitting a ride description
form, immediately following), you'll indicate whether or not you'll be providing riders with
a map or cue sheet. In general, giving riders a map or cue sheet is a good idea unless
the route is short and simple. In all likelihood, someone on your ride has never been on
some or the entire route you've chosen and could easily get lost if separated from the
group. Even if you lead a ride over the same route week after week, you should have a
map or cue sheet for riders who have never been on your ride before. Choosing
between maps and cue sheets is primarily a matter of personal preference. With a map,
riders who somehow miss a turn can find their way back to the route (or back to the
starting point), assuming they haven't ridden off the map. On the other hand, the details
of a map are more difficult to grasp while you're moving; it's easier to glance at a cue
sheet and see that the next turn is a left onto Jackson Street. With a cue sheet, you can
also describe quirks of the route that won't be obvious from a map ("at the pedestrian
crosswalk, turn right onto the wooden footbridge").
6-1. Making a map??
The simplest and most common way to make a map of your route is to get a map of the
area, photocopy the relevant portion, mark your route on the copy, and then photocopy
the marked copy. If you choose this method, here are a few suggestions:
Try not to run the route right up to the edge of the map. If your photocopied map
includes some of the neighborhood outside the route, riders are less likely to ride off
the map if they happen to miss a turn.
If you highlight the route with a highlighter, map details will show through when you
make photocopies. This may not work with all colors of highlighter or all copiers, so
you may want to experiment first.
Include directional arrows, so riders know which direction they're supposed to be
riding. This is even more important if the route crosses itself at some point, as city
rides sometimes will.
If you know the total distance, mark it on the map somewhere. You also might want
to include a brief description of the terrain, for example, "hilly" or "flat."
Play with the density setting on the copier until you get good results. You might also
want to augment a cue sheet with a quick, hand-drawn map. You don't need to show
every turn; just include enough to give folks a rough idea where you're headed. If
you choose this alternative, be sure the relative proportions are at least a vague
approximation of reality, and be sure that north, south, east, and west don't meander
6-2. Making a cue sheet
A cue sheet is a set of written instructions on how to follow a route. In its simplest form,
a cue sheet includes the distance from one place to the next ("1.8 miles" or "2 blocks"),
where the next place is ("Sunrise Avenue"), what you do when you get there ("turn left")
and maybe the total distance up to that point in the ride. Following is a short (fictional)
Total Direction
On to Hawthorn
Right Onto Jackson
Warning! Big potholes at Genesee St.
Left On to Marie St. (bottom of hill). Heavy traffic. Ride single file
Right At the pedestrian cross walks, cross the wooden bridge.
Ride slowly and yield to pedestrians.
Left At the far end of the wooden bridge.
Right At the next intersection (no street sign)
Stop Frohnmayer Park. Rest stop. Restrooms, water fountains
Here are some suggestions on what to include on a cue sheet. If the route is long
or circuitous, not everything suggested here will fit:
Name your ride: Your ride will be posted on the PBA website for others to use.
Over time, people will know the route by name.
The starting point: Six months from now, when you look at this cue sheet again,
you'll want a reminder of where the ride started, so you don't have to decipher it from
the details. To make it easier for your riders to use the cue sheet later, you may want
to include directions to the starting point from some known location, such as (from
Hampton..." or "from I-64...")
Clear instructions: Be sure there's no mistaking what you've instructed riders to do.
For example, at a five-way intersection, (like five forks road near Windsor) there may
be two left turns. Make it clear whether folks should make a hard left or a soft left.
Mileage: Include the distance between landmarks and the total distance as of each
landmark. If you forgot to note a distance as you were pre-riding the route, you can
always estimate from a map. The important things in life: Include restrooms, water
fountains, regrouping points, rest stops, and so on. You also might want to include
bike shops close to the route and, for long trips in the country, places where riders
can get refreshments.
Road hazards: Point out blind curves, dangerous intersections, narrow roads, and
similar potential problems. Make recommendations for safe riding as appropriate
("ride single-file").
Points of interest: Mention scenic overlooks, eagles' nests, noteworthy art or
architecture, a bakery where you can get a really cup cake, local micro-brewery,
historic points of interest.
Frequent landmarks: If you travel a long distance on the same road, include
landmarks every few miles or so, just so folks know they're still heading in the right
direction. Tired riders who don't have a bike computer will have a tough time telling
the difference between 15 miles and 20 miles.
Readily visible landmarks: Wherever possible, use big, obvious landmarks,
especially when it's a long distance between landmarks. You don't want riders to
spend miles wondering whether they've already passed the mailbox that looks like a
little barn.
Unchanging landmarks: If you plan to use the same cue sheet again some day, try
to use landmarks that are unlikely to change. For example, don't tell riders to turn left
at the big white house, or someone is sure to repaint it pink. Likewise, watch out
when specifying business names, a number of stop lights or stop signs, and
alterable natural features. "Left at the third light" has a new meaning if the city adds
another light, and big trees can be cut down.
Your cell phone number: In the event that a rider gets lost or needs to head back
prior to the completion of the ride.
Here are some suggestions on how to make a cue sheet:
Make the text big: If you're using a computer to produce the cue sheet, so you're
able to change the size of the font, make the text BIG. Folks will be reading your cue
sheet at 15 or 20 miles an hour. Don't make it hard for them. 14-point type is a good
size. Standard type size in books is around 10-point, and that's too small for a cue
Make the important stuff stand out: Again, if you're using a computer to produce
the cue sheet, you can change the font to bold, italics, or both to make it stand out
better. Just don't overdo it, or nothing will stand out.
Use standard abbreviations: Instead of spelling everything out, use "L" (left), "R"
(right), and "S" (straight) to indicate directions. Some folks also use "BL" and "BR"
(bear left and bear right), but that's a bit obscure. Using a legend can help riders
that are not familiar with using cue sheets.
Lay out the cue sheet for easy folding: Divide the cue sheet in half or in quarters,
label the parts, and try to avoid putting instructions on the folds.
6-3. Including the "Tips for safe riding" and the membership for as
part of your rider package.
It's a good idea to copy the Tips for safe riding, at the end of this booklet, onto the back
of your map or cue sheet. They should be reviewed during the safety brief prior to the
ride. The list of tips is short, simple, and a good reminder for people who haven't ridden
a bicycle since they got out of grade school. You may want to have a few copies of the
Peninsula Bicycle Association membership form. Newer forms should have the PBA
web site on them as most people will simply use the site to register as new members.
Many rides attract a lot of non-members, who will be more inclined to join if it's easy.
7. Submitting a ride description
To have a standing ride listed on the PBA Chainstay, submit a ride description to the
editor of the Chainstay. To have a weekend ride listed on the PBA web site and
Facebook page, submit a ride description to the PBA vice-president/ride coordinator by
Thursday evening prior to the weekend. The ride description should include the pace
(as listed in the Chainstay), estimated distance, hills or flat, Date and start time, start
location, and a brief description. Include pub/coffee shop stops along the way. You can
submit a ride description by e-mail. As you fill in the ride description, err on the side of
conservatism. If you don't know the exact mileage, it's better to overestimate than
underestimate, so no one is unpleasantly surprised. Also, a ride that you may think of as
only a little hilly may be very hilly to some riders. Finally, be realistic about the pace that
you intend to ride at. If you're very comfortable riding at 18 to 20 miles an hour when
you ride on your own, you'll really need to rein yourself in to lead a group at 12 to 14
miles an hour. If a ride is published at a specific pace, be sure to keep the ride at that
advertised pace. Riders who show up are expecting the advertised pace. If some of
the riders continuously try to inch the pace up, remind them that this is an “X” pace ride
and that they are welcome continue on their own, at the pace they are comfortable with.
In your ride description, remember to include any cautions, quirks, or special
requirements for your ride. Don't identify anything as "required" (except helmets and
parking fees) unless you intend to enforce the requirement; instead, make "requests"
or "recommendations." Here are some examples of items worth including:
If you're planning a lunch stop, indicate whether people should bring a lunch or bring
money for lunch.
If the ride begins or ends after dark, note that riders should bring headlights and
taillights. (Be conservative. If there's a reasonable chance that you won't finish riding
until after dark, include that information in the ride description.)
If you're climbing three mountain passes in the same day, warn people in the ride
description so you don't get riders who aren't up to it.
If you're planning to spend three hours at an antique fair in the middle of a 15-mile
ride, mention this so potential riders know that the ride isn't just a quick loop.
If you're taking a route that's shy of amenities like restaurants and restrooms,
caution people so they can bring their own food and toilet paper.
If you're leading a ride that starts in a remote location, try to encourage carpooling.
For example, you might specify a carpooling place and time and then either arrange
for someone to drive by that location or pass by yourself on the way to the starting
Important! If you want to include any non-cycling activities as part of the ride, make
these activities optional. Riders must be able to choose between participating in extra
activities and waiting for the ride to resume. This applies to all non-cycling activities, but
it especially applies to anything hazardous, including activities that involve alcohol
(winery and brewery stops) and activities that require special training or skills (rock
climbing, kayaking, and so on).
8. PBA no-discrimination policy
All PBA sponsored rides are open to everyone who is able and willing to participate
safely and cooperatively. In your ride description, you can specify who a ride is primarily
intended for, but you can't specify who the ride isn't for. For example, you can specify
that your ride is a Poquoson ride, but you can't specify that it's a Poquoson-only ride or
that it's a no-Hamptonian ride. This no-discrimination policy does not prevent you from
asking a rider to leave a ride based on the rider's abilities, equipment, or actions on that
ride or previous rides.
9. PBA Ride waiver form
All PBA sponsored rides require the riders to sign a ride waiver form. This includes all
riders to include members. Ensure they write down a valid emergency contact number,
not their own cell number or 911. This is the number the ride leader will call after they
call 911. New members who join through the PBA web site don’t sign a waiver when
they submit the membership form.
All riders must sign a waiver form for the ride.
10. Non-PBA events
The PBA Chainstay shows rides that are sponsored by other organizations. The club
insurance does not cover you as an individual on these rides. However, if the club
sponsors the ride, such as the Surry Century or Smithfield Challenge, club members
would be covered.
11. Fielding phone calls/e-mails/Facebook responses from
prospective riders
The ride description form asks you to provide a phone number or e-mail address so
riders can contact you with questions before the ride. Typically, people will want to know
whether they can handle your ride. How you answer this question depends on the
difficulty of the ride and on your preference as a ride leader. If the ride is difficult, you'll
obviously want to be clear about the distance, the speed, the number and size of hills,
and so on. If the ride is less strenuous, you have more discretion. For a slow, short,
social ride, you may want to encourage beginners to come along. After all, everyone
needs to start somewhere. If you take this approach, you must be prepared to wait
patiently at the top of every hill for the sightseers. Your reward is the chance to meet
delightful people who don't happen to be great cyclists and to make occasional riders
into better, stronger, more enthusiastic cyclists. If you're not prepared to wait for
everyone who needs to be waited for, by all means make that clear. Convincing folks
that they can handle your ride and then leaving them in the dust is a great way to
discourage them from ever joining a PBA ride again (and a pretty good way to make
them drop their membership). The PBA does not encourage this kind of activity. From
time to time, you may be contacted by a parent who wants to bring one or more children
along. The club doesn't forbid children on rides, but a parent must sign a separate
liability waiver for anyone under age 18. In addition, unless you're just riding around the
park, be cautious about encouraging parents to bring children along on a ride. Parents
don't always have a realistic perception of how far or how fast their children are able to
ride, or how safely the children are able to ride in a group.
12. Before the ride
If you cancel a ride: If you cancel a ride, show up at the starting point or have
someone else go and announce that the ride has been canceled, unless it's obvious
from the weather conditions that the ride is canceled. You may want to include in your
ride description “ride cancelled if raining at start time”. All advertised rides will have the
statement “Please check the PBA/Facebook page one hour before the ride in the event
the ride must be cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.”
If you can't lead a ride: If, for some reason, you can't lead a ride yourself, try to find a
replacement. The Rider Coordinator may be able to help you find someone.
The PBA will not sanction club rides without a designated ride leader.
If you advertised the ride as including a map or cue sheet, be sure your replacement
has them.
12-1. Remember to bring everything
The items on this list also appear on the Day-of-ride checklist, at the back of this
booklet. Show up at least 10 minutes early with the necessary stuff:
Your bike and helmet.
Plenty of copies of the map or cue sheet if you advertised that you'd provide one. If
cue sheets/maps are not provided, provide your cell phone number to the ride
participants at the ride start so they can enter it into their cell phones.
Copies of the Peninsula Bicycling Association liability waiver, Peninsula Bicycling
Association liability minor waiver, a copy of the PBA First Report of Bodily Injury, and
a copy of the PBA First Report of Auto Accident.
Bring the signed waiver with the emergency phone numbers with you on the ride,
don’t leave it in your car. You may want to keep it in your seat bag to keep it dry.
(Ink jet printer ink runs when it gets wet)
A couple of pens or pencils.
Copies of the PBA membership form
You may also want to bring:
Extra food and a couple of extra full water bottles.
12-2 Basic tools (you can probably leave the truing stand at home), a
pump and tire gauge, an extra tube or patch kit, and tire levers. You
may also want to bring:
A rudimentary first-aid kit. See What to carry in a first-aid kit under Handling Injuries
later in this booklet.
A bike lock. If you bring a cable lock, you can lock several bikes together.
A bike computer to monitor your pace.
A cellular phone.
An extra helmet, if you have one.
Rags, Wet Wipes®, or something of the sort for cleaning up after roadside repairs.
Toilet paper or tissues, if you're planning to be away from basic amenities like toilets
for very long time.
A watch.
12-3. Get signatures, check on helmets and get a count
Have all riders sign the liability waiver for the ride. On a large ride, you can't
know whether everyone has signed, but make a good-faith effort. You may want to
announce that this is a liability waiver and that all riders should sign.
Important! A parent or legal guardian must sign the minor liability waiver for any
rider under 18 years old. If you have doubts about whether the child will be able to
safely complete the ride without holding up the group, you should discuss it with the
parent. You may refuse to allow a child on the ride if you believe the child's
participation would be unsafe or disruptive. Carry the liability waiver with you on the
ride in case of an emergency. After the ride, submit the waiver(s) to the PBA vicepresident/ride coordinator electronically or you can mail it to the PBA PO Box
promptly after the ride. Waiver can be hand delivered at PBA meetings as well. In
the event of an accident, a hard copy must be retained by the club.
Don't let anyone ride without a helmet. The club requires all riders to wear
helmets on all rides. In addition, in most of the local area, helmets are required by
law for children. If someone arrives without a helmet, you can ask if any of the other
riders has a spare.
Important! If someone refuses to sign the liability waiver or insists on riding without
a helmet, make it clear to other riders that the uncooperative rider is not part of the
group. Thankfully, this problem rarely occurs.
Count the riders in your group so you can determine if you have everyone at
regrouping points and when leaving rest stops.
12-4 Make a pre-ride announcement
Here's a pretty long list of topics to try to cover in a short pre-ride announcement. If you
chatter on for too long, people will stop listening, so try not to turn it into a lecture.
However, particularly for slow rides that attract a lot of beginners, these are topics that
bear repeating time and again. It doesn't hurt to offer a few reminders to fast,
experienced riders, either.
Note: The items on this list also appear on the Day-of-ride checklist, at the back of this
Introduction: Introduce yourself, and identify your sweeps, co-leaders, and other
helpers. If the ride will be breaking into two or more groups, explain who will be
leading each group.
If you don't already have someone to ride sweep, you may want to ask if anyone
wants to volunteer.
You can also ask the riders to introduce themselves, particularly if they are new to
the PBA or PBA group rides.
Welcome to new riders: Ask if there are any riders who have never been on a PBA
ride and, if so, welcome them to the group. In addition, encourage the regular riders
to check in with the newcomers during the ride and ensure that they're doing all
right. In a group that rides together regularly, a new rider, shy or not, may not feel
welcome if the regulars spend the entire ride talking among themselves. (Yes this
does happen).
Waivers, maps/cue sheets: Ask if everyone has signed the liability waiver and has
received the map or cue sheet.
Pace: Announce the pace and explain what it means. If you don't intend to wait for
slow riders, you should announce this, too.
Stick-togetherness: Indicate whether the ride will stick together, regroup at the
top of hills, or regroup at a specified point.
The route: Briefly describe the ride, including food and rest stops, difficult hills,
unusual or dangerous conditions, the first regrouping point, and hazards and tricky
turns before that point.
Safety: Talk about safe riding, and remind riders that each person is responsible for
his or her own safety. They may have heard it all before, so say it some amusing or
vivid way that they can't forget. You might emphasize that riding like lemmings is not
a good idea. Or that just because the rider ahead of you made it through an
intersection without being run over doesn't mean you can, too. Or cars kill cyclists
one at a time. You get the idea. You can't teach safe cycling in the three minutes you
have before people stop listening, so vary your safety announcement to fit the
hazards of the ride. If you lead rides regularly, rotate topics from time to time. Point
out the safety tips that you copied onto the back of your map or cue sheet, or that
you provided on a separate sheet.
Traffic regulations: Remind riders that a bicycle is a vehicle and that bicycle riders
are, therefore, expected to obey traffic regulations. Local regulations include, no
riding on the sidewalks in Newport News and in Hampton, if a bike lane is provided,
it must be used, assuming it free of debris.
Courtesy: Ask riders to be courteous. Drivers who are impressed with the courtesy
of a group of cyclists will be more inclined to treat other cyclists with respect.
Group riding techniques: For the benefit of new riders, mention group riding
techniques, including:
 Riding single-file in traffic: Make it clear that riders are not to block traffic by
riding two or more abreast. Riding two a breast is ok on unlaned roads, but
single up with a car back.
 Riding on trails: If you'll be riding on bike paths or trails, remind riders to stay on
the right half of the trail and to be considerate of other trail users. Give
pedestrians the right of way and call out on your “on your left/right” when
 Hand signals: Remind riders to use hand signals for turning or stopping. It's also
a good idea to point out road hazards.
 Voice signals: Give riders a quick overview of voice signals: "Car
 "On your left" to indicate that you're passing another rider or a pedestrian,
 "Glass/hole/etc." to indicate road hazards (combined with hand signals as
appropriate). Emphasize that "car back" means a car is coming from behind, so
riders should start riding single file. Discourage riders from calling out "Clear" at
intersections to indicate that no cars are coming. "Clear" is a subjective and
temporary condition, so riders should always look for themselves.
 Other cyclists: Remind riders to watch out for one another. On a group ride,
they're much more likely to have an accident with one another than they are with
a car.
 Stop lights and stop signs: Caution riders not to run stop tights or stop signs
out of fear of being left behind.
Special equipment: Remind riders about any special equipment that's required for
the ride (for example, lights or lunches).
Keep the leader informed: Ask riders to pass the word if someone leaves or breaks
down, and to notify you if they're planning to leave the ride before the end.
First-aid kit, first-aid training, or cellular phone: Ask if anyone has a first-aid kit,
first-aid training, or a cellular phone.
After-ride refreshments: If you're going somewhere after the ride for a meal or a
snack, tell everyone where you're going now. You probably won't get a chance after
the ride because everyone will scatter to the four winds.
Questions? Ask if there are any questions.
13. Leading the ride
Every ride is different, so it's impossible to anticipate everything you might encounter on
a ride. Here's a quick list of some items to attend to.
Note: Not all of these items apply to all types of rides. For example, if you haven't
promised to keep everyone together, you don't have to worry about whether everyone
made it through the last stop light.
Also note: The items on this list also appear on the Day-of-ride checklist, at the back of
this booklet.
Set a good example: Ride safely, be kind to strangers, pet dogs, kiss babies, and
remember that you represent the Peninsula Bicycling Association.
Courtesy: Anticipate situations where your group may inconvenience others. For
example, when you stop to regroup, be sure your riders aren't blocking the road or
the sidewalk. When you re-enter the roadway, wait until there's a break in traffic, so
drivers aren't forced to slow down for your group. If you're taking the group on a trail,
especially a busy, in-city trail, ask everyone to stay on the right half of the trail,
regardless of how wide the trail is. This may mean that everyone must ride singlefile, which will make socializing more difficult. However, having to shout to one
another is better by far than forcing other trail users off the trail and leaving them
with an indelible bad impression of group rides and riders.
Unsafe riders: Unsafe riders endanger everyone around them, ruin the experience
for others on the ride, and give cyclists a bad image. If you're uncomfortable with a
rider's actions, quietly and politely explain your concern. If the situation doesn't
improve, ask the rider to leave the group.
New riders: Check in with each of the new riders periodically to ensure that they're
getting along all right and that they feel welcome.
Pace: Ride at or near the front to lead the way and set the pace at the advertised
speed (a bike computer can help). Make sure riders know that, if they get ahead,
they're on their own. Your responsibility is to lead the ride you've advertised and to
keep track of the people who are doing the same.
Stop lights, stop signs, and crosswalks: Stop for red lights, stop signs, and
pedestrian crosswalks. Not stopping endangers your riders, opens you to liability in
the event of an accident, and gives onlookers the impression that cyclists are a
bunch of scofflaws. Don't stop too close to the intersection to wait for the group to
catch up. Drivers have enough to cope with at intersections without having to worry
about a gaggle of cyclists. At a stop sign or stop light, join the line of cars. Don't pass
cars on the right and make your way up to the intersection. The cars will just have to
pass you again after the intersection, and this really makes some drivers mad. If
your group is first to a stop light and a car approaches from behind, pull forward of
the stop line to allow the car to advance to the line. This will ensure the light is
triggered to change.
Unforeseen problems: If you run into unforeseen problems (new construction, bad
weather, unusually heavy traffic, a closed bakery), be creative. Change the route,
take shelter, ford a stream, and choose a different rest stop. Consider safety above
all else, and don't be afraid to ask for suggestions from your riders. They may know
the area better than you do. However, you're in charge, so don't let yourself be
railroaded into something that you think is unwise.
Too-fast and too-slow riders: At the first regrouping point, if some riders are
clearly too fast or too slow for the group, consider splitting into more than one group.
You can also ask the fast or slow riders if they'd prefer to take off on their own or
return to the starting point. This suggests that the first regrouping point should be
relatively close to the starting point, so riders can find their way back to the start on
their own, if necessary.
Mid-ride announcements: At each regrouping point, announce the next regrouping
point. Re-emphasize safety, especially related to upcoming conditions. For example,
if you'll need to move into the left lane to make a turn, remind riders to look before
they change lanes. If there's a steep uphill immediately after a turn, try to warn riders
in advance. If you're getting onto a trail, remind riders to stay on the right half of the
trail and to be considerate of other trail users.
Restaurant and restroom stops: Whenever you stop somewhere with your group,
encourage your riders to be considerate of the non-riders around you. Try not to
leave folks with the impression that cyclist are a bunch of ill-mannered ne'er-dowells. If you happen to inconvenience someone, apologize profusely and do your
best to rectify the situation immediately. When it's time to start riding again,
announce your departure enough in advance that everyone has time to stash their
extra cookies, get their helmets and gloves on, and untangle their bikes from all of
the other bikes leaning against the same tree. In addition, be alert for riders who
have wandered off or are in the restroom.
Litter: Wherever you stop, make sure you and your riders’ clean up after yourselves.
Don't make your mark on the world with banana peels, Power Bar® wrappers, and
dead inner tubes.
The slow and the lost: You can't always keep track of all riders, but do the best you
can. Assess how the riders at the back of the group are doing, and adjust the ride as
appropriate. Try not to leave anyone behind or lose them. However, you're not
obligated to go back and look for anyone. You may want to have someone ride at
the back of the group to encourage and keep track of the slower riders. For more
information, see The benefits of having a sweep, later in this section.
Helpers: Delegate helpers to fix flat tires, to pump air into tires, to give shifting
lessons, or to be "comer people," riders who wait at corners and point riders in the
right direction until everyone has passed. (See Using corner people to keep riders
from getting lost, later in this section.)
Good will: Smile, wave, and call out thanks whenever anyone (especially a driver)
is even unintentionally helpful to your group.
Riding after dark: If you're riding after dark, slow down and keep the group
together. A group of cyclists, each one properly lit with a headlight and taillight is
much more visible after dark than an individual rider.
Injuries and other problems: If one of your riders is injured, follow the guidelines
under Handling injuries, later in this booklet. For information on handling a variety of
other problems, see Handling other problems, also later in this booklet.
Have a good time yourself: Some rides are a joy to lead, while others, not so
much. If you aren't having a good time yourself, think about what you could do
differently next time. Moreover, if you aren't having fun, some or all of your riders
probably aren't either. Be bold and ask them how you could make the ride more
13-1 Leading from the front or the back of the group
You don't necessarily need to lead a ride from the front of the group. As long as you've
passed out a map or cue sheet, you may be able to serve your riders as well by leading
from the back as you can from the front. Some ride leaders spend the ride making their
way back and forth between the front and the back of the group, checking to see that
everyone is doing all right. Other ride leaders choose to spend the entire ride at the
back of the group. This ensures that they'll eventually come upon anyone who has
stopped for any reason. If you choose not to lead from the front, here are a couple of
things to watch out for:
If it's a stick-together ride, remind everyone what the pace is and ask them to
maintain that pace.
If you want riders to stop in a particular point, be sure everyone understands the
location of that point.
Remind riders to watch the map or cue sheet carefully and stop if they have any
doubts about which direction they should be going.
13-2. The benefits of having a sweep
If you lead from the front, you may want to have someone ride sweep, meaning the rider
stays at the back of the group. On most rides, the chief advantage of having a sweep is
that the leader knows when everyone has arrived at a regrouping point (assuming no
one in the middle of the group missed a turn). However, if you have unusually slow
riders, mechanical problems, or an accident on your ride, a good sweep can be
invaluable, serving as cheerleader, mechanic, or nurse, as required. If you're leading a
short, slow ride, which will attract a disproportionate number of inexperienced riders,
having any sweep is better than having no sweep. Ideally, though, you should try to find
someone who can successfully change a tire, who doesn't pass out at the sight of
blood, and who will happily slow down and encourage the riders who are having a tough
time on the up hills.
13-3. Using corner people to keep riders from getting lost
If you want to keep your group together during the ride, you may want to try using
corner people. At the beginning of the ride, explain to your riders that, whenever you
turn a corner, you'll ask the person closest to you to be the corner person. This person
then stays at the corner and points riders in the proper direction until the sweep comes
by. (Be sure everyone knows who they're watching for.) If you don't have a sweep, you
can count the riders before you start the ride, which is a good idea regardless of
whether you're using corner people. Then you can tell each corner person how many
riders are behind.
A few suggestions:
Try to spread the duty around a little bit, so no one starts to feel put upon. Rather
than designating corner people, you might also want to call out "Any volunteers for
corner person?" Almost always, someone will call back "I'll take it."
If you designate a corner person, make sure that person hears you and stops.
Even though you have corner people pointing the way, stop from time to time and
regroup. Otherwise, you may end up with corner people peppered all over town
waiting for the sweep, who is helping someone fix a flat.
If you're leading a slow ride and only part of your group gets across at a stop light or
stop sign, you may want to wait until all riders have rejoined the group or leave a
corner person behind so the riders who were caught know they haven't been
If you're leading a large number of riders, you may ask a corner person to limit the
number of riders who leave a stop sign at one time. If you don't have someone, stay
at the intersection and say, "Next five riders," everyone will probably cross at once,
thereby annoying the drivers who are forced to wait.
If you're leading a ride out in the country, where groups tend to spread out a bit,
some riders will resent being asked to wait for the five or ten minutes that it may take
for the last rider to pass. In this case, you can use a rotating corner person. The
corner person only waits until the next rider comes along, then the new arrival
becomes the corner person.
Don't use corner people under unfavorable conditions. If you try to designate a
corner person in a cold rain, you'll be courting mutiny.
13-4. Controlling pace lines
In general, the club does make use of pace lines. Remember though, pace lines can be
dangerous, especially for riders inexperienced with pace lines and for rides on public
streets, regardless of the riders' experience. Slower riders should be introduced to pace
lines since they will definitely see them in the faster rides. Here are some suggestions
for safe riding:
Stop at stop signs. Even at high speeds, the last person in a pace line is a second or
two behind the leader. This is a long time when the group is in danger of being
broadsided by a fast-moving truck (or broadsiding said truck).
Call out stops, hazards, and changes in direction loudly, clearly and early.
Don't allow riders to lead a pace line if they don't know the course, particularly on
Don't allow riders to ride in a pace line if they're using handlebars that keep their
hands far from the brake levers (no aero bars in a pace line). In a pace line, the
ability to stop quickly is paramount.
Be extra careful if you have single bicycles and tandems in the same pace line. A
tandem with two riders weighs a lot more than a single bike and rider, so it isn't as
maneuverable in an emergency. They also tend to slow more than singles at the
base of climbs. The same is true for larger riders. If it takes longer to accelerate, it
will take longer to decelerate.
Limit pace lines to a reasonable length, preferably eight or fewer.
Recommend that riders check the quick-release levers on their wheels to ensure
that the levers aren't sticking out. If riders overlap wheels and one gets a quickrelease lever in the spokes, at least two people will be stopping faster than they
might prefer.
14. After the ride
Immediately after the ride, you should:
Check to make sure that everyone has returned safely.
Thank riders for coming along.
Ask for comments or suggestions. Did riders enjoy the ride? Did they like the route?
Is there anything you could have done differently? When you get home, you should
call any rider who was injured or lost during the ride. If you get home too late in the
evening to call, be sure you call the next day.
Put the waiver sheets in a safe place and get it to the ride coordinator as soon as
possible. Also include the Incident Report if you encountered any events of special
note (accidents, troublesome riders, threats from passing motorists, births). If you
don't get the waiver in quickly enough, someone from the club will be forced to
pester you about returning it.
Using the Information on the liability waiver: The liability waiver exists to legally
protect you and the bike club in the event of an accident. If a rider calls you to ask for
the phone number of someone else on the ride, do not give out that information.
Instead, take the name and number of the person making the inquiry, call the other
rider, and pass on the inquirer's name and number.
15. Handling injuries
If the injured person is in a roadway, divert or stop traffic rather than move the person
and wait for help to arrive.
15-1. Handling severe accidents
Important! If a rider has an accident and lands on his or her head, neck, or shoulders,
you must consider the possibility of a neck or back injury.
If the person is conscious: Ask if the person has neck or back pain, weakness, or
loss of limb function or sensation. If so, you should suspect spinal cord injury and
have the person stay very still.
If the person is unconscious: You have no way to know what injury the person
may have suffered, so do not move an unconscious person.
If an unconscious person regains consciousness before help arrives: Keep the
person as still and quiet as possible. You may need to be firm. Someone who is in
shock or suffering a concussion isn't the best judge of what to do at the moment. Be
sympathetic but firm. If someone may have a neck or back injury, you should almost
never move the person. You could cause irreparable damage to the spinal cord,
possibly resulting in permanent paralysis. In the rare case where you must move
the injured rider, get help from as many people as possible. Make every effort to
maintain the current position of the person's back and neck. Do not try to
straighten someone out.
15-2. What to do if one of your riders has an accident and is injured
Stay calm: You're no help to the others if you're frantic. Pause, take a deep breath,
and survey the situation before you act.
Divert or stop traffic: If the injured rider is in the roadway, have other riders divert
or stop traffic until you can determine if the person has a possible neck or back
injury. Get all other riders and their bicycles off the road.
Important: If you determine that the person has a possible neck or back injury, continue
to divert or hold up traffic until help arrives. Do not move the person.
Determine if the person is injured seriously enough to require medical
attention. The injured rider should get medical attention if he or she:
 Is bleeding heavily.
 Has a head injury and lost consciousness even briefly.
 Can't remember what happened.
 Has obvious pain when moving an injured limb.
 Has trouble opening his or her jaw.
If you don't know much about first aid yourself, ask if anyone in your group does. If the
person has no obvious injuries, you still should pay careful attention to determine if the
person is confused or disoriented, which could also indicate a head injury. If the rider’s
helmet has broken during the accident, the ride is over for that rider.
If necessary, send someone for help: If there is any question about whether
professional medical attention is necessary, call 911 immediately. If you are riding in
a rural area with sketchy cell service, ask a local resident if you can use their phone
or if they could call 911 for you. If possible, send two riders: one to direct the
ambulance to your location (if necessary), and another who can return to the group
when 911 has been reached, so you and the others know that help is on the way.
Important! If you have an emergency and you aren't near a phone, remember that bus
and cab drivers, utility crews, and construction crews all have radios that they can use
to call for help. In addition, many drivers now carry cellular phones.
Care for and reassure the injured rider until help arrives: Be as helpful as
possible given the situation and the available materials. In particular, keep the
person as warm and dry as possible. Regardless of the rider's condition, act calmly,
speak in reassuring tones, and be sure that everyone around you does the same.
Ask everyone who isn't helping to stand well back, so the injured rider isn't looking
up into a mob of worried or horrified faces. Also, caution the others not to discuss
the rider's injuries; no one who is injured wants to hear the words "Wow! Look at all
that blood!"
Make sure the person's contact information and helmet get into the
ambulance: If an injured rider is taken away in an ambulance, be sure the rider's
contact information and helmet go along. Someone at the hospital will probably want
to examine the helmet to determine the likelihood of head injuries. Ideally, you'll get
the ambulance crew to take the rider's bike, too. So you don't need to worry about it.
Important! Be sure you know the rider's name and contact information, so you can call
later to check on his or her condition, send a get-well card, return the rider's bike, and
file an Incident Report with the club office.
15-3. Other concerns In the event of a severe accident
In addition to taking care of the injured rider, you need to be concerned about the other
riders and about the injured rider's bike and gear:
Continuing the ride: In some cases, you may need to continue the ride before the
injured rider has recovered enough to start riding again or before the ambulance has
arrived. For example, if its evening and you're running out of daylight, you'll need to
get the other riders back to the starting point.
You shouldn't leave the injured rider alone unless he or she is definately alright and
has a way to get back to the starting point or back home. If the other riders can find
their way back to the starting point, you and someone who knows first aid should
stay with the injured rider. Otherwise, you should ask for volunteers to stay, again
including someone who knows first aid.
What to do with the injured rider's bike and gear: If you need to leave the rider's
bike where it is, lock it up and take all of the removable gear with you (bike bags,
headlights and so on). Return for the bike as soon as possible (preferably before
nightfall) and let the rider and the club president know that you have it. Alternatively,
you may be able to leave the bike at a nearby fire station, bike shop or at the home
of one of the local residents.
15-4. Who to notify in the event of an accident
The liability waiver includes a line for an emergency contact phone number. If an injured
rider is taken to the hospital unconscious, and if the person provided an emergency
contact phone number, call that number immediately and calmly explain what
happened. If the rider is conscious, he or she can decide who to contact and when. If
someone was seriously injured, call the club president, another club officer, or the PBA
insurance representative as soon possible. The current officers are listed in the PBA
Chainstay and on the club web site ( This applies regardless of
whether the person was one of the riders in your group. If no one was seriously injured,
calling the club president is sufficient. In this case, you can wait until the next business
day to call. The club provides Incident Report and Witness Report forms. You should fill
out an Incident Report form and give it to one of the club officers even if the incident
didn't require a trip to the hospital. In addition, you should have any witnesses fill out
Witness Report forms and return them to you so you can get them to a club officer,
along with the Incident Report form.
15-5. Hypothermia
If you're riding in cold or wet weather, keep an eye on all of your riders to ensure that no
one is suffering from hypothermia. Mild hypothermia is characterized by shivering, and
can be treated by getting the person out of the cold and into dry clothes. If there's
nowhere to get out of the cold, try sharing body heat. More severe cases are
characterized by confusion and lack of coordination; in this case you need to get the
person to medical care.
15-6. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can be caused by riding in hot weather or by dressing
inappropriately when riding in cooler weather. As a cyclist, you need to dress so you
can dissipate heat and perspiration. In addition, you need to drink plenty of fluids, so
you don't become dehydrated.
Heat exhaustion is characterized by pale, clammy skin, profuse perspiration, and
extreme tiredness or weakness. The person may have a headache and may vomit. With
heat exhaustion, the person's body temperature is approximately normal. The treatment
for heat exhaustion is rest. If the person is alert, offer oral fluids, preferably water or
sports drinks. Don't give the person coffee, tea, or alcoholic beverages.
Heat stroke is far more dangerous. The body's temperature control system has stopped
working, so the person doesn't sweat anymore. Body temperature may rise so far that
brain damage may result. The symptoms of heat stroke include hot, red skin; no
perspiration; extremely high body temperature; dizziness; nausea; headache; rapid
pulse; and confusion, disorientation, or unconsciousness. Get the person out of the heat
immediately, and cool his or her body quickly. Soak the person in cool but not cold
water, or pour water over the body. Stop and observe the person for 10 minutes, then
cool some more if the person's body temperature is still above 102°. If the person is
alert, offer oral fluids, preferably water or sports drinks. Don't give the person coffee,
tea, or alcoholic beverages. If heat stroke develops, the rider will need medical care,
possibly including intravenous fluids.
15-7. Road rash
If one of your riders falls and leaves some skin on the pavement, the person should
clean the wound thoroughly, apply some antiseptic cream or ointment, and cover it with
clean gauze. If there isn't a nearby source of clean water, using water from water bottles
is better than not cleaning the wound at all. If the edges of a deep cut won't fit back
together or if the wound is in a place where motion will prevent it from healing, the rider
should get medical attention as soon as possible. For open cuts or abrasions, the rider
should seek medical care if he or she hasn't had a tetanus immunization in the last five
15-8. What to carry in a first-aid kit
If you decide to carry a first-aid kit for the occasional minor injury, here are some
suggestions on what to include:
Large gauze squares for cleaning road rash or as protection from further harm.
A roll of gauze for covering larger areas of rash.
Non-adherent sterile pads.
Antiseptic cream or ointment.
A roll of tape to secure bandages.
Band-Aids® for small cuts and blisters.
Second Skin for open blisters.
Ibuprofen or Tylenol® to minimize swelling or general minor pain.
A triangular bandage.
Antihistamine, in case someone has an allergic reaction.
Latex gloves.
Note: If you have first-aid training, you may want to add other items to your first-aid kit,
for example, Epinephcine®, which is good for severe asthma, as well as for bee stings
or any other anaphylactic reaction. This depends on your level of knowledge and your
willingness to carry the extra weight.
15-9. Getting first-aid training
If you're interested, first-aid training is readily available. Many fire departments and
employers offer free CPR training. For information on more extensive training, you can
call the local Red Cross chapter. Some technical colleges also offer excellent first-aid
courses, which are taught by experienced emergency medical technicians.
16. Handling other problems
Here are some problems that you may encounter on your rides and some suggestions
on how to handle them.
16-1. Riding in the rain
In a light rain, you can probably keep riding, but you need to be especially careful on
downhill slopes, wet leaves, railroad tracks, and metal bridge decks. In a rain that's
heavy enough to affect visibility, you should consider stopping off the road until the rain
slows. However, standing around somewhere while you're wet and cold is a good way
to get hypothermia, so you need to weigh the odds of getting run over against the odds
of freezing to death.
In a heavy rain, you're probably best off finding a nice, warm bakery where you can
indulge on chocolate until the weather improves. However, be sure you have the
permission of the proprietor, be careful not to inconvenience other customers, and be
sure you and your riders all buy something. Also, recognize that the weather may not
improve before sunset, and that you may have to set off in the rain again.
16-2. Avoiding lightning
If you happen to encounter lightning, use the "Flash-To-Bang" method of measuring
lightning distance. This is the amount of time that elapses between when you see the
flash and when you hear the thunder. For each five-second count, lightning is one mile
away. Therefore, at 25 seconds, the lightning is five miles away. At a count of 15
seconds (three miles), take immediate defensive action: Remember the old adage, if
you can see the lightning, it can see you.
Where possible, find shelter in a building or in a fully enclosed metal vehicle such as
a car, truck or van with the windows closed.
Avoid water.
Avoid metal objects such as bicycles, electric wires, fences, machinery, railroad
tracks, tent poles, and so on.
Don't stop beneath small open-sided rain shelters or isolated trees.
Avoid hilltops, open spaces, ditches, and depressions.
Important! If you need to take shelter, make every effort to keep your riders calm. You
don't want folks crashing into one another in a mad rush to get away from the lightning.
If your hair is standing up, you have a tingling sensation, the count between flash and
bang is less than five seconds, or lightning is striking nearby, you should:
Remove all metal objects.
Crouch down, and put your feet together and your hands on your knees.
Avoid direct contact with other people.
16-3. Dangerous drivers
If you have trouble with a dangerous driver, get everyone off the road, and wait until the
driver goes away. Don't antagonize the driver in any way. In addition, get the vehicle
license number and a description of the driver, and contact the police. If you can't
describe the driver, the owner of the car can simply claim not to have been driving the
car at the time of the incident. If someone happens to be carrying a camera phone, this
might be a good time to use it.
16-4. Dangerous riders in your group
If you have a careless rider in your group and the person continues to be troublesome
after you've spoken with him or her about being more careful, insist that the rider leave
the group. If necessary, stop the group and wait until the rider leaves before you
16-5. Mechanical problems
As a ride leader, you are under no obligation to repair other rider’s bikes. Being a ride
leader does not imply you are also a bike mechanic. Although, if you can assist with
repairs, your expertise would be much appreciated by everyone on the ride. If someone
has mechanical problems, you can:
Check with your riders to see if anyone has the parts and the expertise to make the
If there's a nearby bike shop, car repair shop, or hardware store, you might take the
group on a detour. You could also suggest that the rider go alone, and provide
instructions on how to rejoin the group later, if possible.
Suggest calling home or calling a taxi.
Suggest the bus. All buses in the Hampton Roads area are now equipped with
bicycle racks.
Send someone back for a car.
Some problems are not as severe as they might seem:
Broken spokes: Generally, if you don't have too far to travel, you can just ride with
a broken spoke. If you can, remove the parts of the spoke, otherwise tie or tape the
broken parts to adjacent spokes. If breaking the spoke also affected the true of the
wheel, you may also need to loosen the brakes. Emphasize that the rider should
avoid potholes as much as possible.
Broken chains: If someone has a chain tool along, you can simply remove the bad
link and put the chain back together. Because the chain will then be shorter, the rider
should avoid using the large chain ring (in front) or the large gear (in back).
A hole in a tire: If you have a small hole in a tire, you can keep the inner tube from
bulging out through the hole by slipping something inside the tire to cover the hole. A
dollar bill works fine, and a section cut from an old tire works even better, but it's just
a temporary fix. You should replace the tire as soon as you can. If the hole is in the
sidewall, take extra care because a sidewall cut can cause the tire to fall off the rim;
use this trick just long enough to slowly limp home or to a bike shop.
17. Making a ride more fun
Consider choosing a theme. If you live for sweets, lead a ride that takes in several
bakeries, coffee or candy shops. Key into events. For example, you might want to lead
a ride to a community festival, or you may want to take a ride to a music festival, to a
small-town event, or to some similar gathering. However, if you've never been to the
event yourself, you probably should ask around to ensure that the crowds and traffic
won't interfere with safe riding. Have fun with the ride description. People will be more
inclined to show up for a ride whose description captures their imagination. Do
something out of the ordinary. Ride through back alleys, cross wooden bridges,
meander through parks, stop at yard sales and interesting houses, and visit trolls and
viewpoints. Wave at everyone, talk with kids as you ride past, stop and talk with kids
who seem unusually excited about what you're doing, and pose for pictures with
tourists. Take a break at some little out-of-the-way place where the food is especially
good and the proprietors grateful to have the extra business. Be playful. Attach playing
cards to your front fork with clothes pins, and attach streamers to your handlebar ends.
Attach a beanie propeller to the top of your helmet. Get a kids' license plate with your
name on it, and attach it to the back of your seat. Stop off at the grocery store on your
way to the ride, and get a big bag of Tootsie Rolls to share. Get name tags and pass
them out before a ride. This makes it easier for riders to get to know one another, which
is the main reason most people ride with groups. Take pictures and submit them to the
PBA Chainstay\Facebook page admins\web master: Be sure you include a caption that
names the ride and the folks in the picture.
18. Tips for safe riding
Traffic regulations
Observe all traffic laws. Your bicycle is legally considered a vehicle. As a result,
you're subject to the same traffic laws as the drivers of motorized vehicles.
Use hand and voice signals when turning or stopping.
Ride with traffic. Motorists don't look for bicycles going the "wrong way."
Don't wear headphones while you're cycling. It impedes communication with fellow
riders. Also, under Virginia law, bicyclists are not permitted to wear earphones in
both ears while riding a bicycle.
Every bicycle ridden between sunset and sunrise must have at least one white
headlamp with the light being visible at least 500 feet to the front. The bicycle must
have a red reflector on the rear visible at least 600 feet to the rear. On roads posted
with speed limit of 35 mph or greater, the bicyclist must additionally be equipped with
at least one red taillight visible from 500 feet to the rear. Taillights may be steady or
blinking, are allowed under all conditions, and may be attached to the cycle or rider.
Make eye contact with drivers so you know that they've seen you.
Cross railroad tracks at a 90° angle.
Look ahead for road hazards (glass, potholes, wide cracks, metal grates, gravel and
so on) and point them out to other riders. This is extra important when the road is
Check for traffic yourself. Scan the road in front of you, behind you, and around you.
Watch for car doors opening in your path.
Use voice and hand signals to communicate with other riders, especially when
you're riding close together.
Take a full lane when safety dictates. If you're delaying five or more vehicles, pull off
the road at the next turnout to allow them to pass.
If you stop for any reason, move yourself and your bicycle completely off the road or
trail. On multi-use trails and sidewalks, yield to pedestrians. Slow down when other
people are present and slow to a walking pace if safety dictates.
Pass on the left and use a bell or your voice to alert others that you're passing.
Other good ideas
Wear an ANSI- or approved bicycle helmet (required to ride a PBA ride and by law in
some places).
When there's traffic behind you, ride single-file so cars can pass.
Limit pace lines to eight or fewer riders.
Before every ride, make sure your bike is in good condition.
Bring a pump, spare tube, patch kit, tire irons, and a full water bottle.
Eat before you're hungry, drink before you're thirsty.
19. Day-of-ride checklist
Stuff to bring:
Your own bike and helmet
Plenty of copies of the map or cue sheet (if you said you'd provide one)
If you are not using maps or cue sheets, provide your cell phone number to the
Bring the ride waiver with the emergency numbers on the ride with you.
Copies of the Peninsula Bicycling Association liability waiver, Peninsula Bicycling
Association liability minor waiver, a copy of the PBA First Report of Bodily Injury and
a copy of the PBA First Report of Auto Accident.
A couple of pens
Food and full water bottles
Basic tools, pump and tire gauge, extra tube, patch kit, and tire levers
Rudimentary first-aid kit
Bike lock
Bike computer to monitor your pace
Cellular phone
Membership forms
Extra helmets (if you have spares)
Rags for cleaning up after repairs
Toilet paper or tissues
A watch
Money, including change for phone calls
Stuff to check on
Does everyone have a helmet?
Has everyone signed the liability waiver?
How many riders do you have?
The pre-ride announcement
Welcome to new riders
Signatures on the liability waiver
Maps, cue sheets
Pace of the ride
Whether the ride will stick together
The route
Ride safely
Obey traffic regulations
Be courteous
Ride single-file in traffic
Ride on the right half of trails
Use hand and voice signals
Watch out for other cyclists
Special equipment required (lights?)
Keep the ride leader informed
Ask if anyone has a first-aid kit or cellular phone
After-ride refreshments
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