Oversimplified: How To Organize A Group Ride

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July 6, 2015

group bicycle ride

There are few bicycle joys greater than a group ride. The sights, sounds, and sense of belonging created by a school of cyclists are magical. If daily riding is recess from life, a group ride is the class trip to Disneyland.

But just like the class trip, group rides are few and far between. Let's fix that. Why don't you organize one? Everyone will love you for it and we'll show you how. Read on.

Ride Basics

You've got to spread the word. In addition to the obvious (Twitter, word of mouth, flyers at your local bike shop, etc) create a Facebook event page. It's a fast, free, and easy forum to share info and field questions.

Pro Tip: For clarity, be sure to include meet up time and ride departure time.

Courtesy Bike Bakersfield

Create a public Google Map for the route. New riders can be easily intimidated by unknowns like length, hills, and end location. Be transparent and you'll get a bigger response.

If you're expecting a decent sized crowd, and you'll be visiting a business at any point, call a few days ahead to let them know. The business and your riders will have a better experience with advance warning.

No matter how well you know your route - and you should know it well - ride it one last time the day before your group ride. Construction and other impediments can pop up overnight. Don't show up with dozens of riders assuming all streets are clear and open.

Ride Etiquette

You've done your homework, spread the word, and 20 or 8 or 64 people show up. Before the first pedal stroke, consider these points:

  • Pace - A person may be spritely, but groups are deliberate and slow. Make sure to set a pace that is considerate of your riders and your route.
  • Stop signs / Red lights - You'll hit both, what are you going to do? Will you stop for traffic signals, or will you ride through when safe? Know ahead of time and make it obvious by calling out directions like "slowing," "stopping," or "clear."
  • Corking - For larger groups, if you'll be crossing major intersections recruit some friends to cork. Corking places a stopped rider directly in front of cross traffic. The corker is there to ensure no driver tries to sneak through a gap in the group. Encourage riders to thank corkers for their service, and corkers to thank drivers for their patience.
  • Scheduled Stops - If your route is long, consider a midway stop to regroup and allow the slower riders to catch up.
  • Head / tail riders - The leader is the head (that's you), but consider recruiting a friend to be the tail rider if you're expecting more than a couple dozen people. The tail should also know the route, and stay at the back of the group at all times to assist in navigation, flat tires, and to ensure no one gets dropped.

Pro Tip: Outfit the tail rider to help change flats: 1 Schrader tube, 1 Presta tube, a pump and tire levers.

Courtesy Chicago Critical Mass

Corking: Yes to #1. Position a rider in front of cross traffic. No to #2. If your ride is contained in one travel direction there's no need to cork the opposing traffic.

Ride Inspiration

Super heroes? Ice cream? Summer solstice? Adding a theme, or costumes, or organizing the ride to celebrate a holiday are all great ways to increase joy and attendance.

If you plan a group ride let us know. We'll share it on our Facebook page to help spread the word. Email kai@missionbicycle.com.