by Teresa Brooks
I joined Potomac Pedalers way back in the late 80s. I was new to the DC area and found that biking with the Pedalers was a great way to make new friends. Though I was a runner back in those days, I remember my first 25 mile C ride and how tired I was afterwards. But I really enjoyed being on my new bike and all the people I met. So I kept at it and became a strong CC rider. About that time someone convinced me to become a ride leader. I thought, why not? I ride every week anyway and, as a ride leader, I can ensure I can do the ride I want and have folks to ride with. So I regularly chose to lead a ride out of Middleburg. That was back in the days when I enjoyed long, hilly rides. And I remember even back then how CC riders were really doing a B pace!
Now though, I've mellowed and am happy doing 25-35 mile C rides. My focus is no longer on speed or long distances. Now it's all about the joy of being on a bike, getting some exercise, feeling the wind in my face, enjoying the scenery, and riding with friends (old and new). Yes, I've made strong friendships over the years. I now co-lead a multi-class weekly ride on Tuesday mornings out of Belle Haven Park, May through October. This started as a C ride five years ago when my co-leader, Lois Lightfoot, and I retired. Initially we had a few folks show up. But as word spread and folks tried it out, it expanded to become a C/CC ride with four co-leaders. Now we have a whole group of regulars, and as many of 25-30 people showing up each week. The nice thing about leading a regular ride is you get to know your fellow riders and they tend to look out for each other.
So why become a ride leader? Aside from the fact that ride leaders are the heart and the soul of the club and you meet lots of great people, it's easy, fun, and commits you to ride even on those days when weather may not be ideal or you just don't feel up to it. Are you still hesitant to become a ride leader because you don't know how to change a tire, don't have a favorite route, or don't think you ride fast enough to lead? None of those concerns should stop you. Yes, it's great to know how to change a tire, but it's not necessary. There is almost always someone on the ride who can help out. If you don't have a route in mind, you can check out the PPTC cue sheet library on the website or use a cue sheet from a prior ride. Or, are you concerned that you are not fast enough to lead? That's definitely not an issue. In fact, it's always nice when the ride leader is not the fastest rider because they can be towards the back and watch out for the 'true' riders in the class. Maybe even consider leading a ride for a class lower than what you typically ride. The most important thing about being a ride leader is to create a welcoming environment and to stress safe riding.
If you are interested in leading Virginia C class rides, that would be me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to add you to my list of ride leaders!
Want to lead a ride but not sure what to do? We can pair you with a Ride Leader Mentor or someone to co-lead a ride with you. Contact Martine Palmiter or Linda Kolko for details.