31 July 2011

A balmy 75 degrees

Ride #91

Sunday, July 31st
11ish miles around Lake Natoma

You'll see this ride repeated probably once a month. It makes a good ride for beginners and it is pretty, even with the grass turning brown for summer.

We, this was a group ride led by moi (thanks, Miss Piggy), set out at 8am, early enough to beat the heat, and late enough that only one of the signups overslept. We saw circling raptors (hawks, what kind I won't venture to guess) and a few butterflies. I don't normally pay much attention to butterflies, but one of the folks along for the ride does, so I looked for them today. This is why riding with random people can be fun. Never would have occurred to me to scan for butterflies.

There were also lots of folks out using the trail. Some of the groups announce themselves when overtaking, others just fly by in intimidating silence. One lovely pack of four even gave us a count of how many would pass. Thanks, guys!

One other pair made audible comments about there being a center line and traffic should stay on the correct side. C'mon guys! This is a recreational trail. If you are not comfortable (I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt) passing on a blind corner, maybe you could wait? Ok. Now I'm just being sarcastic. Yes, one of our riders was probably wobbling around a bit, but give him a break. In retaliation for the snide-ish-ness (snide-ni-tude?) I busted out one of my patented sarcastic waves (I'm pretty good at nonverbal communication) and got a chuckle from our party.

The Lovely Nimbus Dam

So how does one successfully lead a ride? Here are my thoughts.
Know your riders. Have a vague clue of their abilities and the kind of ride they'd enjoy. This is kind of self-selecting for the rides I lead, which are fairly well described and the riders choose the rides which interest them.
I have had to only once discourage a rider from one section of a two part ride, since I was pretty sure he was not physically fit. He found the second, easier half "just right" so that worked out OK. AND he got to hang out in a coffee place while waiting for the second half to begin.

Mother-hen them just a little bit, but don't get crazy with the rules. I routinely ask folks before we set out if they've locked their cars and if they've got water bottles, since water is a safety issue and worrying about your car sucks all the fun out of a ride.
Helmets are required on our rides, but that's an easy visual check. It is there or it is not.
If there is an epidemic of mal-adjusted helmets, I'll mention briefly how helmets are supposed to fit, and see who wants help fixing theirs. Here's a good resource for that.

Let the group know what's expected of them. Explain the rules of the trail, mention rest stops. Use rest stops to talk about what's coming up, don't try to pile all the information on at the beginning of the ride. Although it can be fun to watch their eyes glaze over.

Check on your riders every once in a while. I like to buzz by up the line of people (I'm usually in the back, sweeping unless there's a tricky-to-follow part coming up) and ask them how they are doing. If someone for instance (as happened today) is stuck in one gear for the whole ride but can handle it, don't worry about it.
If someone is looking like the heat or exertion is getting to be too much, get them to take a break and recover for a while. Make them drink water and eat something (I've had to do this). Sometimes you have to hassle them into taking it a little easy, but it beats calling for the EMTs down the road (which I have not had to do).

Know your route! If you are blazing new trails, make sure the group knows it and are comfortable with it. Many will not be. They want to see the leader as infallible. Where's the fun in that, I ask?!

Be prepared. I carry a first aid kit and I know how to use it. Although I don't have a common tube size, I do carry an assortment of tools with me. I know how to change a tube, remove a broken link, and unjam a chain. I stink at adjusting deraillers.
I have fed people along the trail, loaned out a spare helmet, handed out bandaids, and insisted that a rider borrow a waterbottle.

Have fun. If leading rides becomes a hassle, ask yourself why you are still doing it? If you still want to do it, fix the hassles and carry on.
Fun is contagious, but so is un-fun.

It seems that I'm recovering well from my recent surgery, so I'll be piling on the rides for August. Yay!

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