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.  A rota of ride-leaders is drawn up every quarter, and names posted on the Calendar page. If you are interested in joining the rota, please get in touch.

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.)

[Note: See also the Covid-19 page for essential additional information about the role of ride-leaders.]

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 goes out and back roughly perpendicular to the wind-direction. If the forecast is wet, plan a shorter route!
  • Try to avoid repeating a route used by that group in the previous few weeks.
  • Make sure you’ve included a suitable cafe-stop in the route-plan – if possible, around the half-way mark or slightly after.
  • If you know that 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 paper or online maps. 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. Find out who is planning to come with your group. If there are new riders, make them welcome and point them towards the most suitable group for them.  If they are coming with your group, 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 in your group, either before you leave or within the first mile. (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, 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 may be necessary to split the group into two on the road, either just to manage variations of fitness/pace, or to avoid holding up other traffic.  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 (particularly if your route isn’t the default option at the next junction). 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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