by Carol Linden
After overcoming my anxieties about riding with a designated group, in 2008 I decided to start leading rides for a very selfish reason: to have a ride on the schedule that I wanted to do! It didn’t seem like it was that hard. Pick a ride start – I already had my favorite, Riley’s Lock – and pick a route. It was a challenge to plan several weeks ahead, and still is, but I managed to lead about one ride a month during “the season” when I first started. What amazed me the most was the thanks that I got from the other riders – thanks for planning the ride, picking the route, helping someone with an issue. I was pretty much always leading the CC group from behind, at least until I got a bit stronger. But that was a good way to meet folks and intercept problems.
Most of the time, rides go smoothly, with no flats or other rider issues. However, every once in a while, there’s the flat that’s difficult to fix, or a rider whose partner got lost, or someone with a mechanical problem. That’s when being the ride leader really becomes important. Not that I can fix every problem, but I can help make sure that the rider is able to get back to the start, take a shortcut, reconnect with their companion, or whatever. I’ve also tried to help riders new to the group scene with tips and war stories about my own challenges as a beginner, which were numerous and sometimes even humorous. While some of my friends tease me about my preference for riding in the Montgomery County Ag Reserve, being very familiar with the roads has come in handy more than once when a shortcut or route revision was needed. Of course now, with GPS and maps on our phones, this is less of an issue, but it still helps to have an idea of where you are and where you’re going! More recently, I’ve become involved in multiclass rides. They’re the perfect solution for me – virtually everyone, including me, can find someone riding their pace without trying to figure out exactly which (inflated) ride class they’re in.
Think about the rides you liked the best this past year, and about volunteering to lead that one in 2016!
(If you’re interested in becoming a CC ride leader in Maryland or DC, I can help! I’m currently the MD/DC CC ride coordinator; you can email me.
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.