Leading a ride with Central London CTC

edited on 25 Oct 2020 at 21:42 in Maps and navigation

Being a Ride Leader can be enjoyable, rewarding, and it is really not that difficult. Please consider contributing to the club by leading rides. This short guide will hopefully help get you started. 

Becoming a Ride Leader

• You have to be a paid up Cycling UK member to lead a ride. Please send your details (including your CUK membership no. and expiry date) to Richard so that you can be registered, which will cover you under our insurance. 

Before the ride

• Work out a route your group is likely to enjoy, taking into account: distance; terrain; traffic; refreshments; toilets; points of interest. You may have to adapt your ride due to the weather, ability of the riders, and any other factors. Be prepared to vary the ride if any of these change. If you are stuck for a route, pinch someone else's from past rides. Check the train times at http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/ if the ride is train-assisted. Avoid starting from a station or using the same train as another scheduled CLCTC ride.
• Decide how you will navigate: GPS, maps, local knowledge, or a combination of all of these.
• Advertise your ride – get in touch with the co-ordinator for the level of ride you are planning so that it can go on the club's website.

Leading the ride

• Enlist the help of any experienced riders to: keep an eye on newer ones; act as backmarkers; lead a second group; or even act as ‘human signposts; at junctions or gates.
• State when and where you propose to have a lunch or cafe stop.
• Explain how you will lead the ride: any jargon and hand signals you might use; when and where you will wait for stragglers; how you will deal with traffic and so on but remind each rider they are responsible for their own safety.
• Point out any likely hazards in advance. In the unlikely event of an incident, please complete an Incident Report form as soon as possible.
• Avoid blocking roads and trails – choose stopping points carefully.

• Keep the ride flowing smoothly but do stop occasionally and give stragglers a rest before restarting.

• You have a duty of care to the riders and the public, so if you think someone may endanger themselves or others, have a quiet word; if their behaviour persists, you are entitled to ask them to leave the ride.
• You should lead by example and remain courteous and considerate to all road users and fellow riders.
• Ensure anyone who wishes to leave the ride is happy to make their own way home.
• At a lunch or tea stop collect the names of the people attending. At the end of the ride, thank people for coming.

* Approaching horse riders. Make sure you slow down and indicate to your group to do so. If approaching from behind call out to the horse rider once you are within earshot and ask if it is safe to pass and state that there is a group of riders behind you. Be prepared to stop if the horse rider is not happy for you to pass. Do not ring your bell. More information about cycling and horse riders here.

Carry a few essential items such as:

• Maps or GPS unit
• Selection of small tools, inner tubes, tyre levers and a puncture repair kit
• A mobile phone
• A pen or pencil and note pad.

After the ride:

• Please let us know who was on the ride, the names of any new riders, and how much money was donated – please send the information to ridereports@centrallondonctc.org.uk, or use this form.
• Any money collected can be transferred directly to the Club bank account (sort code 20-97-58 and account number 10919489), or passed on to any committee member.
• In the very unlikely event of an accident having occurred during the ride, please complete an Incident Report Form (an editable Word document), and send it to our Secretary.

Further information from Cycling UK's ride leader toolkit.


  • We are always looking for new ride leaders. If you been out with us a few times and think you could lead a ride, please get in touch with one of the ride co-ordinators. I'd also like to see more off-road rides added to the list, perhaps on a Saturday. If you'd like to lead an off-road ride please get in touch with me.
  • edited on 28 Apr 2019 at 07:30

    Extra advice for leading an off-road ride

    • If your ride will include some sections of off-road riding on bridleways and byways where the terrain is more challenging than just a few short sections of gravel or hard track, then please consider the following advice. 
    • Off road cyclists' can legally cycle on the network of byways and bridleways, but not footpaths unless otherwise stated on signs. These rights of way are marked on Ordnance Survey Maps (red dashes on 1:50,000 and green dashes on 1:25,000) and waymarked on the routes as blue for bridleways and red for byways. Footpaths are waymarked yellow. There are also a number of old railway tracks and canal tow paths across the UK that often form part of the national cycle network. Bear in mind a lot of surfaces will become very muddy - and slippery - in winter or after a period of heavy rain. 
    • Cyclists should give way to walkers and horse riders, stick to the marked track, and should not block the trail. Cyclists riding down a hill should give way to cyclists coming up. You should usually ride on the left and call "keep left" to riders behind you as you approach other riders coming towards you on the trail.
    • On more "technical" terrain there is an increased risk of a fall. British Cycling offers the following advice: "Off-road cycling does carry a higher risk of injury than road cycling but, as crashes tend to be at slower speeds and don’t involve traffic, it is usually just a case of a few cuts and bruises. Always try to ride within your own technical ability and fitness and, if you have any doubt about your ability to ride a section of trail, walk it first. When descending, stay relaxed and never ride so fast that you feel as though you are out of control."
    • If challenging terrain is likely then the ride leader should ride the route beforehand and carry out a simple risk assessment so that riders can be warned of potential hazards in advance. It is better to err on the side of caution and avoid leading a group along a steep downhill track. Instead, select a route that offers easy "cross country" riding. If the terrain is likely to be very rough, a mountain bike, cyclocross or gravel bike with tyres wider than 35mm would be better and potential riders advised in advance. For sandy surfaces 50mm wide or more is better. It is up to the ride leader to make a judgement after a reconnaissance ride.
    • Riders should also be warned about brambles, nettles, thorns and possibly barbed wire. But these hazards are no more than people walking would encounter. Cycling UK also warns about ticks that may latch on to unsuspecting riders and suggests shaving your legs! It is a good idea to carry a small first aid kit. Remember to respect The Coutryside Code and make sure the last rider closes any gates after them. 
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