Leading the CTC way

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Leading the CTC way

Postby CJ » Fri Mar 28, 2014 3:22 pm

I've just written a blog with this title for the CTC website. It's not published yet but when it is I'll make this a link. Meanwhile here's what I wrote:

I learnt everything I know about leading cycle rides and tours with CTC, but not from any of the training courses recently profiled here and in Cycle. I served an apprenticeship most Sundays since 1972, with several different local CTC groups and on many longer tours at home and abroad.

At the recent annual meeting of CTC Holidays & Tours it was decided to put the qualification of registered CTC Tour Leaders on a more formal footing. As a first step I volunteered to document best CTC practice in ride and tour leading.

Leading a cycling tour clearly builds upon the activity of leading a ride. I hugely value the tips and techniques I learnt with CTC’s local groups and use them when I plan and lead tours. Some of the ride-leading knowledge that lives in the heads of our local volunteers went into the production of CTC’s leaflets for group ride participants and leaders. But a leaflet is too small to give more than pointers: the bare bones of how to lead a ride. I’m aware that several local groups are engaged in putting flesh on those bones by drawing up their own more detailed ride leading guidelines, and that some already have such a document. And I know that some information sharing is already happening between adjacent local groups.

I want to ensure that what we’re doing as a CTC tour leaders, remains consistent with what we’re doing as local ride leaders. I want to expand information sharing beyond informal local links and write a national CTC document of best practice in group ride and tour leading. If you want to be part of this, please send me any guidelines that your local group has already developed, or is working on, or simply your own ideas on the subject. Email chris.juden@ctc.org.uk or post to CTC National Office, marked FAO Chris Juden.

In due course I will circulate a draft document amongst all who have contributed or expressed an interest - and given me their email address. This thread can also be used for informal comments and feedback.
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Re: Leading the CTC way

Postby Si » Fri Mar 28, 2014 3:42 pm

and write a national CTC document of best practice in group ride and tour leading


Good on you - about time someone did this as in some cases it's sorely needed (that is, guidance for normal group leading), as some of it is awful (for instance, last one I went on, with a group I won't name, the leader didn't bother waiting for everyone to get ready at the start, didn't do a head count, couldn't be bothered to wait for traffic lights to turn green, didn't see a difference between pavement and road, etc etc...however, it should be noted that I've been out with the same group on other occasions and leading has been great ).

FWIW, my local groups guidelines are: http://nbctc.co.uk/images/code.pdf
Riders should have filled out an ICE form and if new, done a registration form.

I'm also writing a ride leaders' course for a new CTC group (similar to the CTC Ride Management Course, but a little more specific for bridging the gap between that sort of ride, with snaking, and moving up to the normal CTC non-nannying ride), can send you a copy when done (if I ever finish it!!!!!).
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Re: Leading the CTC way

Postby gaz » Fri Mar 28, 2014 10:00 pm

Si wrote:Good on you - about time someone did this as in some cases it's sorely needed (that is, guidance for normal group leading)...

+1, IME there are some very sloppy practices on some CTC rides at the moment.

The only advice I will offer to CJ is to say that when the document is published please make it extremely clear that CJ is the author, I think this will greatly increase the chances of LMG Secretary's promoting it to ride leaders.

Although I've not lead a ride for many a year, I believe my name remains on my LMG's somewhat out-of-date list of ride leaders. It's there based on experience gained on club runs over many years before such lists were required, not any formal training.

I'd like to do some ride leading for Sustrans but without formal training that won't be happening. I do wonder how long CTC can maintain it's informal experience based assessment of a ride leader's capability.
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Re: Leading the CTC way

Postby CJ » Mon Mar 31, 2014 10:05 am

gaz wrote:IME there are some very sloppy practices on some CTC rides at the moment.

I know that, but it won't help to emphasize the point. And whilst I'll be happy to put my name to this, I sense that our volunteers have had enough of instructions handed down from paid staff. It must come from and be owned by them.

I think that unless we can maintain an on-the-job system of leader qualification, that'll be the end of local groups. I know that in some groups it's hard enough already to get someone to commit to lead a ride. But if we can give some structure to what happens already and facilitate constructive feedback from the led, I believe that we can help leaders make more rides better without burdening them with bureaucracy.
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Re: Leading the CTC way

Postby Si » Mon Mar 31, 2014 4:48 pm

I think that some volunteers (hopefully a small minority) need to be told that they are doing it wrong* - I know that they are giving up their time to do this service for the club and they should be praised for making the effort, but some of the "sloppy practise" that some leaders perform will certainly be putting them in a position where their insurance may be invalidated if things go wrong and someone gets hurt. This is a point well worth emphasising.

Likewise, we sometimes need to ask what we should do: keep quiet to reduce the risk of offending one volunteer, or say something so that several new comers are not put off by their first experience with the CTC?

*The trick is to say something in the right way: the aim is not to brow beat the volunteer leaders and tell them they are crap, but rather to say: "Hey thanks for the efforts that you are putting in, we now have this set of guidelines to make things easier for you when you are leading."
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Re: Leading the CTC way

Postby mjr » Mon Mar 31, 2014 6:59 pm

Is there one right way though? For example, Si's group refers to "the sport", seems to have a leader who might divide the group and so on, whereas ours isn't sporty, copes with large groups by having both a pathfinder and a back-marker and generally has fewer MUSTs.

I'm glad someone's willing to try, as it's always upsetting to read about new riders being "dropped" and effectively telling the new rider off if they didn't know a good route home from where they were left. Is that meant to happen on rides of CTC or BC groups? (I ask from a position of ignorance: local CTC rides are weekday mornings which I rarely have free, while the local BC are too fast for me and ride in pacelines which I find stressful.)
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Re: Leading the CTC way

Postby manybikes » Mon Mar 31, 2014 8:03 pm

Didn't we do that back in 2002 or 2003. I remember spending hours and hours in Codes of Practice, Incident Reporting, Risk Assessment, Child Protection Policies et al. It was the issue of the time due to worries about losing the insurance. Many of us submitted papers and feedback to Head Office.
Then H O lost the plot, dropped the ball or whatever and when pressed retracted on some points for the very reasons that CJ refers to. They expected resistance from local groups and (I suspect) just lost interest because new interests took up the time of the Executive.
Unless there has been a cull in Guildford filing system I suspect much of what was submitted is both still there and still of relevance.
Good luck with it.
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Re: Leading the CTC way

Postby hazychris » Wed Apr 02, 2014 8:25 pm

We have just been through the process of updating and training out our guidance at CTC Wantage. A motion at our last AGM (below) gave the mandate to do this, and we've had a generally good response from ride leaders, save the odd one or two who think they know it all ;-)

Our new volunteers list is based upon those who are either experienced and capable (and have had a refresher by briefing) and the newer ride leaders who have had little help in becoming ride leaders previously, but have now been trained.

Anyone who'd like to chew over our learning is very welcome to drop me a note.

Chris Walters
Secretary, CTC Wantage

Materials are here:
http://www.ctcwantage.org.uk/blog/wp-co ... -03-17.pdf
http://www.ctcwantage.org.uk/blog.php?p=210
http://www.ctcwantage.org.uk/blog.php?p=404

Training syllabus:
1. What do we expect from riders – a walk through the rider guidelines (pre-read)
2. What do expect from leaders – a walk through ride leader guidelines (pre-read)
3. The role of the sweep
4. Planning rides
a. Ride descriptions and how they relate to your ride
b. Route planning websites
c. Updating the club website
5. Leading the ride
a. Registering riders and dealing with minors
b. Briefing
c. What could possibly go wrong?
d. Dealing with poor riding standards
6. After the ride
a. Website write-up
b. Dealing with issues


AGM Mandate:
‘This motion recognises the effort and dedication that CTC Wantage ride leaders willingly give. Not all ride leaders are adequately supported in their development, and this motion calls on the Committee to formally put measures in place to support ride leaders and assure the standards of ride leadership such that rides are safe and enjoyable for all riders:
(i) That a formal register of ride leaders be put in place, including types of ride that a leader is experienced in leading
(ii) That simple training sessions for new and inexperienced ride leaders are organised, covering topics as listed in the "How We Ride" on the CTC Wantage website: http://www.ctcwantage.org.uk/blog.php?p=210
(iii) That a process of recruiting ride new ride leaders is put in place to ensure that the club can grow sustainably by having sufficient experienced ride leaders to cover a comprehensive ride calendar without relying on just a few leaders.’
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Re: Leading the CTC way

Postby CJ » Wed Apr 02, 2014 8:56 pm

That's a commendably coherent set of guidelines from Wantage. Not the only way of doing it, but a good way. Your star numbers even seem to be a pretty good fit with the CTC Holidays grade numbers. Thanks Chris.

Keep the ideas coming.
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Re: Leading the CTC way

Postby Vanguard » Tue Apr 22, 2014 4:05 pm

I echo others’ comments that to be credible and properly discharge our “duty of care” as ride leaders, CTC local groups sorely need something more than a few pointers on a CTC leaflet. Well done CJ for starting to collect best practices from local groups.

How refreshing as well to read that Wantage CTC has gone ahead with some training for their ride leaders following the updating of their guidance. Now that’s taking the bull by the horns! (Thanks Chris for your material).

We at West Surrey CTC had probably been too busy riding the beautiful countryside to bother creating our own “Guidelines”. However, with a few near-misses in the past few years along with some bad press in the local papers on anti-social group cycling behaviours (mostly groups of sportives), we’ve decided to act.

Alas, not much we could do about the bad driving, but much we could do about our very own occasional bad cycling.

Here is a potted history of what we have done to make our rides safer:

1. In 2013, 10 of our ride leaders drafted a hymn sheet of both what we do well already and what CTC wants us to do, combined with approximately 5% additional content to adapt to the reality of the somewhat busy Surrey roads; often narrow, in poor condition and in places full of fast cars.

2. We claim no merit for coming up with what I think is one of the best sets of Group Riding Guidelines out there… for we have simply creatively swiped and tweaked the best available from CTC leaflets, Reading CTC, Wantage CTC, Portsmouth CTC and the San Fairy Ann (Kent) Cycling Club websites.

3. For all our members to read, we have posted on our website our values and ethos on “How We Ride”, complete with the link to our Guidelines(http://westsurreyctc.co.uk/the-club/inf ... r_members/)

4. We have also sought to imbue our ride leaders with our club ethos on “How We Lead Our Rides” (http://westsurreyctc.co.uk/the-club/inf ... r_leaders/), pointing them to 3 additional documents they need to read (see “Ride Leader Tools” as you scroll down under the same link).

5. We have recently made our new ride leader selection process a tad more rigorous. Trainees first lead a few ride segments under the watchful eye of an experienced ride leader and when they feel ready we validate their suitability during a “check ride”. Only when we are satisfied is their candidacy submitted for approval to CTC Head Office. Thus far, candidates have reported having found our Group Riding Guidelines perfectly suitable and comprehensive enough to guide them on what is expected of them in their new role as ride leaders (see our blog entry 10 April 2014: http://westsurreyctc.co.uk/category/blogs/).

6. Last but not least, we have started in March 2014 our first “Ride Leader and Back Marker Best Practice Workshop”. Run by an in-house rotating team of our top leaders every 6 months, this two hour workshop has really set the tone that we are serious about getting on the continuous improvement bandwagon.

Of course, as Wantage CTC and other groups may have experienced, a few of our riders and ride leaders were a bit uneasy to being guided to adopt safer practices. However, most are now simply getting on with it. One recent comment from a long in the tooth club member in his 70s who is perhaps our most “bohemian, world travelled, hair blowing in the wind” in attitude, epitomises how benign the new “rules” are generally perceived: “Having read through the Guidelines I see nothing wrong with them and feel they are absolutely right and formalise what we do most of the time anyway”.

Some others frankly state their unreserved approval: “Today I joined one of the well-attended Wednesday rides. I was quickly impressed by the clarity of the pre ride briefings. Then I was able to relax in the experience of careful, well-disciplined packets of 5 riders that allowed me to feel safe even in the very busy Guildford morning traffic. A big thank you to all those brave souls who have sought to grapple with some of the very sloppy riding we have got used to in recent years”.

We wouldn’t have gone this far in improving our group riding without tapping into the knowledge of other CTC local groups. Thank you CTC and the above listed local groups for leading the way!

Louise Gagnon
West Surrey CTC Ride Leader and Committee member
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Re: Leading the CTC way

Postby Si » Tue Apr 22, 2014 6:22 pm

Impressive, Louise. Might have to swipe the odd bit - after all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery :wink:
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Re: Leading the CTC way

Postby Vanguard » Tue Apr 22, 2014 8:12 pm

Thanks Si. May anyone out there swipe whatever they wish from what we have.

Rest assured that we are also constantly on the lookout for "better practices". Portsmouth CTC's new Guidelines have a few desirable bits that may just migrate to the next version of our Guidelines; who knows! (http://www.portsmouthctc.org.uk/ride-guidelines/).

(By the way Si, nice pic of you with that CTC Certificate of Merit, Cycle Magazine Dec 13/Jan 14).
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Re: Leading the CTC way

Postby sbird » Sun Apr 27, 2014 6:50 pm

We don't have a shortage of people wanting to come on our rides but if we're not careful we may not have enough ride leaders.

In my view it's a fine balance between the having some grand formal qualification scheme for ride leaders and nurturing ride leaders through an informal approach such as the one we run. We don't want to scare people off; it's hard enough getting people to lead rides. Almost everyone enjoys and appreciates the work that a leader puts in to assemble and execute a ride. But most don't want the responsibility or need to be shown how to do it.

So we have our guidelines (we, being Reading CTC) but I know not every leader has read them before they lead. It's a matter of learning on the job and, where necessary, more experienced hands will offer advice if the ride on the day is going a bit astray.

One thing we do insist on, and that is that the ride leader has to have full membership of CTC and not an affiliated membership. That's been our interpretation of the insurance conditions.

Our cornerstones are re-grouping at the tops of climbs and ensuring the ride goes at the pace of the slowest; but within reason. There will be times when someone turns up for a moderate ride (10-12mph) and it rapidly becomes clear they are capable of no more than a leisurely (8-10mph). This can be dealt with in several ways. The ride splits into 2 groups or the interloper self-selects to leave the ride (and once the leader is happy they know how to get home) or the ride continues at the pace of the slowest; the option taken is usually decided within the ride. However there is a responsibility on the rider to ensure they are capable of doing the speed and distance of the ride itself. And there other ways in which riders manage their participation in the ride. Some will start and go as far as elevenses or lunch, others will join the ride at lunch and the rest will do the whole ride. So a member group's policy could reflect all of these situations.

Mostly, however our regulars will know the style of ride the leader will deliver and it's only when we have newcomers or a new ride leader that the guidelines have to be observed a bit more closely.

One thing I do on some of my rides which isn't in our guidelines is to employ waymarking (I think it's called one-man drop off in motorcycling circles). This is a useful technique if you're in an urban area and want to keep the ride moving through many traffic lights and junctions and it's inconvenient to re-group after each one. Or when you want to spread the arrival rate at a lunch stop to reduce the length of the queue and the sense of overwhelming the staff. It's appealing to the faster riders in the group because, although they have to wait at a junction until the backmarker arrives, they then get to speed to the front to take another turn at waymarking.

As a ride leader it took me some time to get used to managing the ride at the advertised pace and only experience (and a speedometer) helps here, it can't be taught. But my best advice for leaders here is to let faster riders go off the front rather than keep pace with then; and give them the information about where to regroup. It can keep everyone happy. Also when re-grouping and the backmarker arrives do then announce how much time before the ride moves off again to allow the slower riders time to recover; there's nothing worse than for the back of the ride to catch the waiting group only to have to set off again - they find it demoralising and you probably won't see them again on one of your rides.

Simon Bird
Events Secretary, Reading CTC
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Re: Leading the CTC way

Postby CJ » Tue May 06, 2014 4:32 pm

sbird wrote:In my view it's a fine balance between the having some grand formal qualification scheme for ride leaders and nurturing ride leaders through an informal approach such as the one we run.

You echo my thoughts.

And I'm delighted to read that you've also discovered and use the technique that I call 'human signposts'. I find it has all sorts of advantages: avoids clogging up junctions, keeps the slow riders rolling, calms down the fast ones whilst giving them (as you say) an occasional outlet for their speed and - once people learn that there will always be someone to show the way at every turn - removes fear of getting dropped, so that a large group happily and naturally splits into smaller sub-groups that are easily passed by overtaking traffic, rather than anxiously scurrying to keep up at all costs! By this technique I often lead groups of more than 20 without any problems, using human signposts for all turns (not just in built-up areas) all day long. Obviously one still has to re-group at reasonable intervals, but that no longer has to be at a junction, which is often the worst of all places to re-group. Instead one can select a location for the ease with which everyone can be got off the road, plus other attributes, such as a view, toilets etc.
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Re: Leading the CTC way

Postby mjr » Sat Jun 21, 2014 1:43 am

I only noticed after it was mentioned in another thread, but should West Surrey CTC really be supporting that evil highway code rule (the h*lm*t and h*v*s one) we campaigned against?
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