Ride leaders

Portovelo relies on volunteers to lead its rides. The ride-leader’s main role is to choose a suitable route, then to manage the pace on the day, making sure that no-one gets dropped.

Ride-leaders have no formal authority, and one person cannot always be aware of everything going on (particularly with larger groups), so please give the ride-leader your cooperation (including by looking out for others). Every adult participating in a Portovelo ride is responsible for his or her own conduct and safety. (Parents/guardians are responsible for any under-16s they bring along.)

Tips for ride-leaders

Planning a route:

  • Check the weather forecast. As a general rule, plan a route that goes out into the wind, and back with it, or a linear route perpendicular to the wind-direction. If the forecast is wet, plan a shorter route!
  • Try to avoid repeating a route used in the past few weeks.
  • Make sure you’ve included a suitable cafe in the route-plan – if possible, roughly around the half-way mark.
  • Check the club in-box. If first-time riders are expected, it may be better to plan a less ambitious route or make sure there are shorter options available.
  • Plan the route, using maps or online tools such as Street-view. The aim is to be able to navigate confidently round the route without having to check the map (or GPS device etc.) more than occasionally. If you are less familiar with the roads, choose a simpler route.

At the bandstand:

  • Get there in good time. Look out for new riders, and make them welcome. Check that they are adequately equipped, and know what to expect from the ride.
  • Announce the destination (cafe) and an outline of the route. Find out if anyone needs to be back early or is planning to peel off mid-way.
  • Count the number of people. (This is surprisingly easy to forget!) If there are more than 10, consider asking another experienced rider to act as “back-marker” (riding near the back of the group and alerting you if anyone is struggling with the pace).

On the road:

  • Make sure the pace is kept steady and manageable at least for the first hour – particularly if there are newcomers in the group.
  • Throughout the ride, your main role is to set and maintain a pace suitable to the group as a whole. That is likely to involve some compromise: stronger riders may need to be held back, so that slower riders can stay with the group (benefiting from sheltering behind others). Keep a look out for early signs of riders struggling and adjust the pace before they drop off the back.
  • Encourage all the stronger riders to take turns on the front. That also means not sitting on the front yourself for too long!
  • With 8 riders or fewer, keep everyone together in one group; with 12 or more, it’s generally best to split the group into two (faster, slower) on the road.  If you split the ride into two groups, make sure both know how to get to the cafe stop and re-group there (or give the faster group a longer route to get there, or the slower group a short-cut).
  • It’s generally best to allow everyone to go up steeper or longer hills at their own pace, but make sure everyone re-groups at the top (or at the bottom of the following descent).
  • Take the lead in pointing out hazards such as potholes (but this is everyone’s responsibility).
  • Give advance notice of turns. If you’re not sure which way to go, stop the group and check the map (better than getting lost or taking a wrong turn).
  • Check periodically that everyone is there. It can be difficult to count heads in a moving group, so take the opportunity to count when re-grouping at the top of a hill or at a junction.

At the end of the ride:

  • Depending on where they live, some riders may peel off coming back into Edinburgh. It’s generally fine to let faster riders go ahead (off the front of the group) in the final few miles, but make sure there’s still a core group riding together and that slower riders don’t just get dropped.
  • When you get home, e-mail the club mailbox with a route outline and a total distance.

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