Ride Leader Guidelines
First and foremost, thank you for generously volunteering to be a Ride Guide or Ride Leader. It is important for our sport and the riding community that more experienced riders pass on the do’s and don’ts of riding while enjoying a fun and safe ride series.
Initially, this ride guide program was developed for riding in overcrowded parks near Boston. It was wildly successful, and was then rolled out into other parks around Greater Boston and New England. As MTB advocates, we dealt with vast numbers of both experienced and new-to-the-sport riders. In most seasons, we would get between 700-1000 unique riders to our various ride series, many of whom would come to repeat rides with us many times over the season, totaling (literally) thousands of cumulative visits per season. We had to develop a program that supported and safely managed all these people in the woods.
Your role as a Ride Guide or Ride Leader will set an example and spread the critical message that we are a welcome and essential part of the trail community.
The first and most important thing to remember when leading a ride is that...
It’s Not Your Ride!
Any ride that you lead really belongs to the people riding with you. And this is especially true when the people following behind you have never ridden with you before. You can/should think of it as "giving" a ride rather than simply leading a ride.
When you're leading it's your responsibility to make sure that everyone with you is having a good time. More importantly, you want to make sure that they'll want to do it again. That means that you don't ride your favorite trail if you sense that someone on the ride isn't ready for it. That also means that you don't lead at a pace that knocks the people behind you out of their fun zone.
At the Ride:
Ride Lead and Sweep (the Ride Guides) introduce themselves by name and what their role on the ride is. Following Guide introductions, describe the ride before moving onto rider introductions.
At a minimum, the ride description should include the following:
Drop or No-Drop ride (note: a vast majority of NEMBA rides are and should be No-Drop rides)
Approx. Duration (90 minutes)
Approx. Distance (10-12 miles)
Approx. Pace (7-8mph moving pace)
Terrain Description (flowy singletrack, with several stone wall crossings or rooty singletrack with occational double track)
Notable Features (a rock roller a mile in that the group will session, a new bridge four miles into the ride that was built by NEMBA volunteers)
Riders ntroduce themselves by name and possibly a short ice breaker (favorite trail, number of years riding). A useful ice breaker can be to find out which ride the rider is interested in going on, follwing the ride decriptions (assuming more than one group/ skill level). These introductions should not take too much time (you want plenty of time to ride!), but they are a crucial piece of community building. Introductions should happen regardless of how many repeat rider attend- anyone attending a ride for the first time should be given the opportunity to get to know the other folks on the ride.
Additional Information Before Ride Departs:
Trail Etiquette & Community: Every person on a NEMBA ride is an amdasador for the sport. Have positive encounters. Slow down or even stop when you see people out on the trails. Greet every person that you see with a friendly "Hello!" Remember, they're out there trying to have a good time too, and you riding by with a group of stragglers may seem a little disruptive to them, especially if they've got unleashed dogs or small kids. Never overlook an opportunity to make a good impression for mountain biking. "Be Nice, Say Hi!"
Things to watch for: Make riders aware if areas are known for poison ivy, ticks, mosquitos. Or if any trails/sections are know to have off leash dogs, horses the group should be mindful of.
NEMBA's version of the 2nd Person Drop Technique
A great technique to keep the ride moving is the “2nd Person Drop.” We have adopted and adapted this great technique over the years and strongly recommend it for any ride with a large volume of riders. I recall one Holiday Toy Drive ride where one leader and one follower kept a group of 35 riders happy and connected at a particularly intersection dense riding location.
Here’s how it’s done:
- When it is time to get going, the leader starts riding at a comfortable pace (allowing for riders to warm up). When the group approaches an intersection or trail split, the ride leader designates with voice and hand gesture to the rider directly behind the leader – the 2nd person – exactly where to stop and wait for the entire group to pass. That person then becomes a “living arrow” for the riders behind them.
- The 2nd person waits and directs all subsequent riders through the intersection or split and ensures that everyone makes it through by waiting until the sweeper arrives and gives the “OK to go ahead.”
- If there are multiple turns, make sure that at each subsequent turn, the next 2nd person drops and waits for everyone. Waiting riders must continue to wait until the sweeper releases them.
- Once released by the sweeper, riders are welcome to speed back up to the front if they can do so safely, or not as they wish. It’s been our experience most people are quite content to keep their position in the pack.
- If the leader ever runs out of 2nd persons to drop and wait, that indicates one of 3 things: the pace is too fast, there may be a mechanical failure or injury, or someone did not properly wait for the sweeper. After a few minutes of no more approaching riders, the leader should turn back and ride along the original route, gathering up each waiting rider as they go. Once the leader gets to the source of the problem, he can solve the delay issue.
- If the pace is too fast, adjust the pace to the slowest rider in the group. The faster riders will still get a good workout after waiting for the group to move through the intersections then catching up to the leader again (intervals!).
Splitting the group:
Splitting the group is not prefered, but if the slowest rider(s) are not suited to the group for fitness or skill reasons, the Lead may wish to split the group. To do this the Sweep, in communication with the Lead, should take the outmatched riders, plus one strong rider if possible, and work their way back to the trailhead. A new Sweep is then chosen and the process starts again.
- If there is an injury or mechanical issue, the sweeper will ask the last waiting rider to ride up to the leader and explain the issue. All waiting riders should remain at their assigned intersections. Non-waiting riders should continue to ride up to the leader as the pace allows. They need not wait for the mechanically or injury impaired rider. The sweep will give assistance or comfort as required, until the situation is resolved or the leader comes back to take control. When a leader is aware that there’s a problem they will reverse direction, and bring everyone back to help.
Waivers are a part of the registration process on Golden Volunteer, NEMBA's event calendar and volunteer tracking platform. Registered riders accept the waiver in one step of the registration process. Riders signing up on the spot, through the ride Check-In kiosk will be asked to accept the waiver as a part of their sign-up as well. Contact your Chapter Leadership with questions.