How do you handle big group rides


Mar 26, 2002

We are getting more and more people in our allezy.net group rides and I was wondering how does the different bike club handles big group rides (15 riders or more)

Do you split into different groups, if so, who is the group leader of the slowest groups(a slow rider or a dedicated fast rider)?

How do you make sure not to loose anyone?

Do you sometimes post rides as advance riders only, if so how does everyone feels about it?


Heath Sherratt

Turbo Monkey
Jun 17, 2004
In a healthy tension
In my experience people just like to get together. I ride with a group called the Folsom Breakouts. If there are newbie's it's different but if it's just different paced riders then the splits are unavoidable and a leader will rise above and lead. If you want to keep the group together you will lose the faster riders, so let nature take it's course and delegate in areas where you see need with people who you know can lead. It's easier than you think and always more a matter of just doing and learning than any set formula; every group is different. Have fun and stay in communication. If anything needs focus above and beyond, it's staying in communication with everybody and making sure needs are met to the best of your ability, not to everyones insane ideal standards. You're human and people can only expect so much out of you. Have fun and ride hard. H


bikey's is cool
Jul 26, 2002
in a bear cave

If you have more specific questions for me i'll take them as you ask em here on this thread.

But as far as your questions go, don't overworry. There really is not much to leading a ride. Take a head count, radio's for you and the sweeper. Save a good story or joke to keep the front group from getting restless waiting for the back group at a critical junction. And carry some first aid, and/or a cel phone and be willing to sacrifice your ride to help out a rider in need. Other than knowing where you're going (many time i don't haha), and having a great time, that's all you need.
Also if there is disparity in the group, perhaps you can be creative. A loop for everyone that leads to the cars, then a stronger group doing another loop. Or split the group and meet them up later at a different junction. With radios it can be done.

Good luck and have fun showing the goods.


blah blah blah
Mar 22, 2005
i'd say get everyone's number, mark the trails, go a mile and wait for everyone, if not they don't show call em up.

take different trails.


Der hund ist laut und braun
Aug 22, 2001
Bend, Oregon
We do group rides for Bend Bella Cyclists and we break into two separate groups based on abilities/skill levels. There is a designated ride leader that knows the way and gets a head count. We just regroup periodically or at key intersections to let people catch up.

Glad you're getting such a good turnout Dave


Chocolate Milk Doug
May 15, 2002
Shut up and Ride
another vote for 2 groups...and to make evryone happy, call one group the "fast" riders, and the other group is the "faster" riders.


Turbo Monkey
Jul 22, 2002
Vestal, NY
Back when I had time for group rides, we did them every wednesday and friday night. Wednesdays were a no-drop everyone-is-welcome ride, Friday was for faster riders only.

The wednesday rides were often very large, and we'd break up into 3 groups (usually 4-8 riders per group, ideally) based on ability. We'd always find someone in each group who knew the trails very well, and they would lead their particular group.


bikey's is cool
Jul 26, 2002
in a bear cave
Ugh i'm gonna have my hands full next week. i'm leading 3 club rides in consecutive days with 25 riders for the first, 24 for the second, and 16 for the last. Haha :looney:


Jul 2, 2001
Hershey, PA
We break into different paced groups. On the rides, each rider is responsible for the rider behind him/her. Call out the direction you went at trail intersections. If you don't hear people behind you call it out, assume there's a break in contact and pass the word to stop up the line to the ride leader. Re-establish contact and continue.


Nam I am
it depends , This past thursday night we had 10 and had very little problems, I have had as few as 4 ( including my self ) and had all sorts of problems. it really depends on the abilities of the riders , if they are all pretty much evenly matched ( read: about as fast as me )

it seams Pretty easy , but if you have 1 who is Much much slower , you are asking for trouble.

and it always seams when ever I say a ride is going to be advanced , so one who thinks they are advanced always shows up , and that can cause problems.

I have not had to become the Asshole yet , but it has been close a couple times, once I was just about to when the rider , had a Mechenical and had to quit.

along those lines , I think when you advertize a ride , it has now gotten to the point of putting Pace, Techincal ability , Big Bike friendly , etc ,etc

It also helps if you have some one who also knows the trails who can sweep.


Jul 2, 2001
Hershey, PA
splat said:
...along those lines , I think when you advertize a ride , it has now gotten to the point of putting Pace, Techincal ability , Big Bike friendly , etc ,etc
That's what a local club does. They advertise the pace as casual, intermediate, or fast. Sometimes the only difference between the pace is the amount of stopping to rest/regroup that takes place. They also rate the terrain. Copied from their web page:

An entry-level MTB trail. Minimal obstacles (roots & rocks) on the tread. Most climbs and descents will be gradual. A step up from the canal towpath or rail-to-trail.

Assumes the rider has basic MTB skills. There will be obstacles which require the rider to get their front wheel off the ground to clear successfully. Short steep climbs and descents may be encountered. Many intermediate trails may be successfully ridden by more fit entry-level riders.

Assumes the rider has mastered fundamental MTB skills. Significant obstacles will be present (rock gardens, large and/or suspended logs, drop-offs). Climbs and descents will be long and/or steep. There may be sections where even experienced riders will need to portage their bikes.

A mastery of fundamental MTB skills is required along with good fitness. Slow riding or "trials" skills may be required to "clean" some sections. Areas of trail may be "exposed" (i.e. large dropoffs to one or both sides). Even the most skilled and fit rider should expect to portage their bike through sections.

Ian F

Turbo Monkey
Sep 8, 2001
Philadelphia area
It's been a long time since I led a group ride, but there are a few things I remember.

First XC group rides and road group rides are totally different animals.

Like Heidi posted, stop at unclear intersections and make sure everyone makes the correct turn if there was one. I also had a rule: "When in doubt - go straight." Meaning that if we came to a trail crossing and I wasn't waiting for you, go straight.

When I first started mtn biking in the early 90's, we used to do rides with big groups. Sometimes 20 or more. For the most part, everyone sized each other up and made reasonably good guesses as far as faster people in front, slower in the back. This limited needing to pass on narrow single track. We also had names for the trails we rode and at the start, someone would give a suggestion for a route and where the break would be.

For training rides, 3-4 of reasonably equal riders is a good number. Small enough to keep together, and enough riders to encourage a bit of competition to keep speeds up. However, in general, I discourage using mtn bike rides for "training" in our area. Simply too many other users on the trails to be able to safely maintain a constant speed. I train on the road and use mtn bikes rides as social events and skill builders.