Thank you for being so generous as to lead and sweep club rides. Our club thanks you and is deeply appreciative of your efforts. Ride leading and sweeping is the heart of every bicycle club. These updates are an effort to help keep you informed on relevant issues. The safe cycling enjoyment of our riders is the most important responsibility of the Leaders and Sweeps.
Leaders/Sweeps meetings are held periodically to review roles and responsibilities and discuss current events. The presentation is made available here in case you were unable to attend the meeting.
Download Leader/Sweep Mtg Presentation
Following are a few suggestions to help you in your role.
Ride Leaders at the ride start:
Determine if your ride needs to be divided into sections of 8 or fewer riders and appoint section leaders and sweeps as necessary. If 8 or fewer riders are present, one group is an option.
• Outline your route to your section leaders, riders and sweeps.
• Move your group to the “on deck” circle as soon as the previous group leaves.
• Have your cell phone available in case of emergency.
Ride Leaders during the ride:
• Ride the advertised pace and distance.
• When starting, build to your ride pace gradually allowing for a “warm up” period.
• When starting from a stop, accelerate slowly to your riding pace so the following riders do not have to sprint to maintain contact with the group.
• When stopping your group, slow your speed gradually whenever possible.
• When stopping your group along a roadway, try to locate an area large enough to accommodate your riders OFF the roadway. Call out your instructions (SLOWING, CAR UP, etc.) loudly and repeatedly.
• Stop your ride as soon as safe to do so when the STOP request is received.
Ride Sweeps and Section Sweeps at the ride start:
• Determine the route the leader plans to follow.
• Ensure that all of your group or section is underway.
• Have your cell phone available in case of emergency.
Ride and Section Sweeps during the ride:
• Monitor the safe riding practices of the riders in front of you. Bring unsafe riding practices to riders’ attention when it is safe to do so. Single file, proper lane position and overlapping wheels would be among those safety issues to monitor.
• Stop to aide any cyclist from your group requiring attention.
• When stopping to aide a cyclist call out loudly STOP until the leader stops the ride.
• Ascertain if riders dropping off a ride have a physical or mechanical problem and STOP the group if appropriate.
• Call out your instructions (SLOWING, STOP, etc.) loudly and repeatedly.
Ride Leader Responsibilities
Some of the goals of the SLBC are to ride safely and have fun. Therefore, the ride leader is the
key person to ensure those things happen on every ride. Once a biker has agreed to lead a ride,
the followings things need to be addressed even before the ride starts.
• Announce the destination of the trip that day.
• Identify the biker that has agreed to be your sweep that day and make sure they understand your route.
• Count the number of bikers who want to be on the ride that day; if that number is greater than twelve, divide the bikers into two groups.
• Before starting the ride, find out who will be leading the second group and see if they agree to go to the same destination that the leader of group one has chosen (they don’t have to).
After those details have been addressed, the group or groups can then start riding.
The leader does not have to be leading the group all day. In fact in the summer, with the intense heat, and in the winter, with the wind, it makes sense to have one or two other bikers who are willing to share the pulling that day. However, you are still the leader that day and you are still calling the shots even if you are not in the lead.
Try and maintain a speed that the ride was advertised; if it is a B – ride that was advertised at 16 – 17, try to stay within that pace. If you have to adjust speed down to keep group together that is appropriate. If you can’t see your sweep, ask the riders behind you if your sweep it still back there!
Design safe routes and try and stay away from known very busy roads with no bike lanes.
• Discuss the major roads and safety concerns with sweep and riders prior to ride. Example: I am going to travel north on Buena Vista Blvd. and I am going to take a left onto Rainey Ave. Therefore, when we clear the Arnold Palmer/Bridgeport circle, I want to take the left lane as soon as it is safe.
• Call out and point out hazards ahead and to the sides. Visually pointing out debris in the road is getting to be more and more important because of some hearing issues with some of the members.
Since the group follows the leader, choose your road placement carefully.
Signal and call out turns early to allow sweep to take the lane when necessary.
Slowing and Stopping Alerts:
Call out alerts when approaching roundabouts, stop and yield signs, oncoming pedestrians, golf carts and obstacles on the route (parked vehicles, workers). Remember, everyone in the group is not allowed to go through a roundabout if a car is already in the circle. STOP and tell the riders in front of you that you are stopping. They will pass that information up to the leader and he/she will slow down until you can catch up.
Taking a Break:
A short water break or butt break are certainly allowed and in many cases, really appreciated. Use common sense on extremely hot days and cold windy days. General Ride Conduct Ride single file and try to keep chatting to a minimum. Riders should never be talking on the phone unless it is a rest stop. Encourage riders to stay between leader and sweep except in hilly areas. Under no circumstances, passing on the right is never allowed.
Rider Goes Down:
These rules are covered in the following “Sweep Responsibilities” section.
Issues That the Leader Should/Can Avoid:
• Do not allow “Pace Breakers (hijacker)”! This is a common problem when a rider that normally rides with a faster group, decides to drop back and ride with the next slower group. At some point in the ride, that same biker decides to take a turn leading and then immediately picks up the pace. Most generally, that rider doesn’t even realize what they are doing but the problem is that they are now above the advertised pace of the ride and some of the bikers in that group will probably have trouble staying with the faster pace. As a trip leader, you have to talk to that biker and bring him back to the group!
• “Jackrabbit Starts”. When a leader clears a stop sign, an intersection or a circle, they need to ease back up to their ride pace that day. Going from 0 -18 mph too fast, kills the bikers at the end of the ride as they really have to go hard to catch back up. Go easy until you hear the command from the sweep, “all here”.
What is a Section Leader? How is it different than a Ride Leader?
When a club ride group (e.g., C+) has a large number of riders, it is divided into sections of 8 or fewer riders. The Ride Leader is in the first section along with a Sweep. Each of following sections has a Section Leader and Sweep. A minimum gap is maintained between sections to make it safer for cars and pickup trucks towing trailers to pass the cyclists on two lane roads.
• Ride Leader: Responsible for the overall ride, including the route, riding pace, water breaks, and mid-ride break.
• Section Leader: Responsible for keeping their section organized and keeping the proper gap between their section and the section in front of them. The Section Leader does not have to know the route or set the riding pace.
• Sweep: Last rider of each leading section responsible for the duties of the sweep as well as alerting the Leader of their section that the gap between them and the section behind is too large.
How I do become a Ride Leader or Sweep?
If you have previous experience with Ride Leading or Sweeping with another club, please contact Nat Haytcher, SLBC Cycling Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact information. If you do not have previous experience, it is suggested that you begin as a Section Leader or Section Sweep.
How do I learn the routes?
Pay attention during the ride. After the ride, use a map and try to trace the ride that you just completed. Google Maps is an excellent tool for this. There are also several apps for smart phones that record your ride; examples are Ride with GPS and Strava. Some other ride routes are shown available on this website. Note that the SLBC has a Ride with GPS account.
Often times Ride Leaders will lead from the second or third riding position allowing other riders to ride in the first position while the official Ride Leader continues to set the route and pace. Ask your ride Leader if you could take a turn on the front while the Ride Leader continues to be responsible for the route and pace.