Every year, Bicycle NSW approves everyday bike riders to become qualified Ride Leaders. These Ride Leaders are knowledgeable, experienced bike riders who love to show new and experienced riders the great areas and routes in their local area.
The Ride Leaders Course is designed to take experienced group riders through a series of exercises to impart the knowledge, skills and experience to competently – and confidently - lead a group of riders.
The first ‘in person’ training day for four years
A training day is a core element of the process to qualify as a Ride Leader. Bicycle NSW recently hosted a fantastic training and assessment day for aspiring Ride Leaders at Olympic Park. It was the first opportunity in 4 years to run face-to-face training.
9 candidates were put through their paces by 4 Master Ride Leaders and around 20 volunteers from Bicycle User Groups. Participants travelled from Newcastle, the Blue Mountains and all points between.
Early on a chilly August morning at the Education Centre at Bicentennial Park. The candidates and volunteers are welcomed by David Martin of BayBUG. David has managed the Ride Leader accreditation process for many years (Image: Bicycle NSW)
The half-day event began with a group workshop to learn about preparing for a successful group ride. Candidates discussed how to ensure everything goes to plan - and learnt about some of the common mishaps. Case Studies were used to highlight potential problems and how they can be sidestepped. For example: What should a Ride Leader do if riders get drunk at a vineyard lunch stop? The Master Ride Leaders entertained everyone with stories of past dramas!
This was followed by a one-to-one route planning session with a Master Ride Leader. A group ride needs a full Ride Plan. This includes a map, a cue sheet and a detailed description of the roads, hazards, key junctions, the gradients, the intended ride pace and much more.
“Preparation is the cornerstone of successful group rides. A Ride Leader plans a route and sets the ride’s level of difficulty and average speed to suit the type of riders they’re looking to attract,” says David Martin. “Rides can go from relaxed ambles away from traffic to longer and more challenging ventures. You want to attract riders who can be confident the ride is for them and matches their fitness and ability levels”
The next step is the Practical Ride Leading assessment where newfound skills are put to test by leading a group of volunteers on a short ride.
A group of volunteers ensure that candidates deal with a range of challenging situations during the short off-road practice ride (Image: Bicycle NSW)
“Candidates start with the pre-ride brief and then leads and manages the group, signalling and communicating as necessary, under the watchful eye of the Master Ride Leader,” explains David Martin. “The ride is followed by a constructive de-brief. This is a low-risk rehearsal aimed at giving the candidate practice in bringing together all the skills of being a Ride Leader.”
The BUG volunteers are talented actors! They tested the candidates’ abilities to solve problems and react to unexpected crashes, for tyres and disappearing riders. Who would have thought a 3km ride on shared paths could be so action-packed…..
A huge thanks to everyone who helped on the day
"After listening to members and BUG's, it was fantastic to get back to face-to-face training again but we couldn't have done it without so many amazing volunteers including Master Ride Leaders and actors to assist with the practical rides," said Peter McLean, CEO of Bicycle NSW. “A huge thanks to everyone who helped on the day”
Would you like to be a Ride Leader?
The Bicycle NSW Ride Leader Course is only open to members who have experience in riding with a group and are nominated by their BUG President. The BUG Master Ride Leader then guides approved candidates through the course.
“Becoming a Ride Leader starts with being a capable bicycle rider,” says David Martin. “We’re definitely not talking here about elite road warrior level but being able to negotiate the everyday traffic, on paths and streets. You also need to have ridden with a group and performed the role of Sweep.”
After the training day, candidates co-lead on-road rides with the Master Ride Leader until they are ready to be recommended to the CEO of Bicycle NSW for full accreditation.
For more information about what is involved, please head to https://bicyclensw.org.au/ride-leaders-course/
There are also online options for qualifying, developed when COVID19 prevented traditional training sessions. The Ride Leader Manual and other course materials can be found here.
The big group of candidates and volunteers. Thanks everyone for bringing your enthusiasm for bike riding and community building! (Image: Bicycle NSW)
Join a BUG before embarking on Ride Leader training
Find out how to become a member of your local BUG here.
If you are not already part of the Bicycle NSW family, we would love you to consider joining us. Support our advocacy campaigns and ride with peace of mind knowing that you are covered by our comprehensive insurance