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Ride Leader Responsibilities

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Q: What is a lead?
A: The lead is responsible for…leading. Somehow, that makes sense. But the lead also has to set the pace.  He/she can’t just go charging off at a 20mph pace while everyone else in the pack is expecting only a 13mph leisure ride. The lead should also know what the route is, how difficult it is, and make sure that everyone who starts is accounted for at the finish. Hmm – I don’t always follow the pace rule when I can get away with it – just ask Billy or Dan. But I do know in other instances when I need to behave…er lead responsibly. A good leader may also have a motivational cookie in their back pocket.

Q: What is a sweep?
A: The sweep is responsible for making sure no one drops off the ride unexpectedly. The sweep should be prepared with a frame pump to take Schrader and Presta valves. He/she should also carry at least two tubes, tire levers, and a patch kit. The lead and sweep should also have cell phones in case the pack gets really spread out. Actually, you should be carrying these things too as well as a first aid kit, etc.

Q: Why is the sweep called, “the sweep”?
A: Well, it has to do with a broom – you see…uhm, ok, that’s as far as I’ll go with that analogy. Maybe it’s so people don’t get swept away? Hmmm – ok, I really don’t know; so if you find out you can tell me on one of the rides.

Q: Who is going to lead and who is going to sweep?
A: That depends. Maybe you feel called to perform one of these roles. I hope you do. Even if you don’t, if
you see the lead starting to look like they’ve had enough feel free to take the lead. If you feel you want to
hang back because you want to save your strength for the next hill, maybe you can be a sweep.

Q: How does this work in an event like the STP?
A: Well, we try to get riders in groups that have different paces. Then we get the leads and sweeps to identify themselves and hopefully the people in a group all stick together or as much as possible up to the
next rest stop. You can switch groups too, but make sure your lead or sweep knows. Sometimes
it is chaotic, but other times it works.

–Steve K.

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