Leading a Ride and Dealing with Stragglers
So far this year I have lead 6 rides for PFW. All of them have been B rides. However, looking back on them I can see it could easily be argued the rides were all B+. Club members in PFW tend to categorize themselves as B riders per the club’s Ride Guidelines. But those guidelines really only apply to flat routes that typically depart and end on the east side of US Route 1. All of my rides depart and end on the west side of US Route 1 and pretty much are quite hilly. Most of the riders who show up for my rides are specifically looking for rides with hills and they do well on hills. This sets them apart from the typical PFW club member. It also means they are really B+ riders, and not B riders.
I had one rider who showed up for one of my rides who just wasn’t up to staying with the rest of the riders. I held back on the hills to let him know he wasn’t being abandoned. The faster riders would wait for us at the top of the climbs. When the straggler would reach the waiting group I would direct everyone to move on. Toward the end of the ride the straggler quibbled that I wasn’t letting him rest. My response was I was doing him a favor because if I let him rest he would relax and lose the speed he was able to maintain while engaged. I said further that the speedsters were handicapping themselves for him by waiting on him in the first place. When they were stopping they were relaxing and losing the speed they could maintain if they had otherwise kept going.
There will always be riders who want to go off the front of the pack. And there will always be stragglers on a ride. This fact of life is what makes leading bike rides interesting. The leader has to keep the strong riders happy while at the same time keep the stragglers content. Stragglers usually don’t come back a second time. This is good, but it is also bad. It’s good so the stronger riders will eventually get the best workout from their ride as possible. But it is bad because a straggler will only improve if he or she builds up his or her stamina and endurance and feels welcome to come back to the ride to see if they are in fact improving.