The Joy of Leading Rides

Tuesday, March 19, 2019


I am honored to have been awarded the Linda Tischer Lifetime Achievement Award. I assume it was because I lead quite a number of rides. Actually, most of the rides I lead include other ride leaders, so it is really a joint effort. I would like to recognize Karen Berlage, Geng Chan, Carol Linden, Paul Huey- Burns, and Ann Corran, to name a few. So, I am taking this opportunity to thank everyone for the recognition, and to explain why leading rides is so much fun and quite rewarding.

I lead rides because I like to ride, more specifically, I like to ride with other people. Not only is there a benefit from drafting, but it is a great way to meet people. I have met quite a number of riders that have become close friends through cycling. Not only that, but I have seen areas of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and West Virginia (by bike) that most residents of those states have not seen. So, you might say that I ride for selfish reasons as well.

You may ask, how would I go about leading a ride if I have never done it before?

First, do a few rides in your area to get a feel for where you would like to ride. Some people like mountains, some like hills, and others the flat areas. Fortunately, we have all those features available in the area. You can even combine all 3 in one ride. Once you figure out what terrain profile you want, that will dictate the ride start location.

If you do not have a Ride with GPS account, you should consider getting one. This is a fabulous tool that makes designing a route very easy. It is much more accurate and fun than using a hard copy map and a set of calipers. Don’t know what that is? Then you are not as old (or old school) as I am. Anyway, Ride with GPS makes creating bicycle routes easy. The hard part is knowing which roads to ride on. That will come with riding more rides with PPTC.

As I live in Maryland, I typically ride near my home. For hills I go to Frederick to the ride start location Monocacy Middle School. If I want flatish roads, I go to Walkersville, MD. If I want something in- between, that would be Laytonsville or Riley’s Lock or Germantown (South Germantown Recreational Park), Black Hills Park and Poolesville. There are dozens of routes in Ride with GPS ( from these locations.

From Monocacy Middle School we usually we ride straight over to Hamburg Road then take in Harp Hill, Coxey Brown, and or Middlepoint. I find these hills even more challenging than the more famous ones out west. In my opinion the hills are generally steeper and shorter on the East Coast, and much longer and higher altitude but less steep our West. Of course, there is an exception to every rule, this is just my experience.

From Walkersville, I like to ride to Gettysburg or Hanover Pennsylvania. The roads are relatively flat heading in those directions. Often from Walkersville we have a multi-class ride, with varying distances to suit each ride leader, and, of course, the folks that usually ride with them. The nice thing about riding in those directions is that the roads are in generally good shape, and there is relatively low traffic.

Another interesting thing is the wealth of covered bridges in the area. We often ride over the Loy Station, Utica and Roddy Road covered bridges. For the adventurous, there is a covered bridge near

Gettysburg, Sachs Bridge, that is not well known, but is fun to ride on. Besides being interesting in themselves, big trucks cannot go through these bridges, so the access roads do not have truck traffic.

In Montgomery County, we have lots of great riding areas. To access the Agricultural Reserve, we often start in Germantown or Riley’s Lock. From these locations we typically visit Dickerson, Adamstown and Poolesville to name a few. A couple of my favorite roads are Fingerboard, Park Mills, Shiloh Churchand
River Road.

From Laytonsville, we have rolling terrain with some hills. A favorite ride, that has many different versions, is 50 Miles to Nowhere. In classic PPTC tradition, it was designed to avoid roads that had been tarred and chipped, about 20 years ago. We are still doing those same roads. Another traditional ride is Karen (Berlage’s) Birthday Ride. It takes in my favorite road, Bloom. The Tuesday/Thursday evening “training” ride also starts from Laytonsville. It has been going on for a few decades and will start up the 1 st Tuesday in April. Come join us and get to know a lot of PPTC riders.

Bottom line, it is quite easy to lead a ride. Speaking for myself, contact me and I can help. We are always looking for someone else to lead rides with us. Maybe you can even help us design some new routes.

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