Most of my bicycle mileage so far has been on these rides. More so in 2008 since I haven't been back to California with my bicycle since the end of 2007. And I haven't done a whole lot of event rides like I did last year.
With all the CBC daily rides that are out there — some 1,200 a year — there's usually some ride I'm interested in joining. But not always. And the ride leaders out on the weekday rides have been saying they're tired of leading or want a break. And the popular rides often have so many people that extra leaders always help, especially for those wanting a faster or slower pace.
Becoming a ride leader is quite easy. Ride three times with CBC. Then go to a 2-1/2 hour orientation. Then co-lead 2 rides.
So what does a leader do? Aside from filling out paperwork so we can call somebody in case of emergency, track and help with accidents and problems; mostly it's group cohesion and safety issues you worry about. Seattle Bike Club pretty much treats every rider as a leader, but with the 10,000 or so CBC members they are after a bit more organization.
Interesting things: CBC wants to have more ride leaders lead beginning riders, kids, and slower riders. They want more weekend rides. (I'm apparently not that necessary.) Biggest complaints are from ride leaders not following the posted pace of the ride. Serious accidents are quite rare. (Most accidents are due to people riding too closely; when a front tire touches a rear tire an accident usually results.) It takes six months to "earn" a bicycle jersey. Ride leaders often call participants after the ride if they had problems.
Once I co-lead a couple of rides I get to schedule my own rides through the website. I'll mention what those are on the blog. Maybe this fall I'll do night rides with my singlespeed?
Most other people there had very specific scenario questions and I think most of the responses from the teachers came down to either "use your judgment" or "this isn't adult daycare". Most concerns were about those riders who can't take care of themselves on a ride. CBC ride leaders don't have any responsibility to resolve mechanical issues or rescue sick riders. In an emergency, a ride leader is expected to stay with the cyclist but mostly we were told to delegate, if possible these tasks, since very often there's a lot of things going on at once: make that 911 call, call their emergency contact, deal with the person's bicycle, keep the ride going or turn it around, fill out reports, deal with traffic, get first aid, etc.
One other thing to note: Practically anybody can lead a ride. We had fat people in that "didn't like hills" and wanted to lead 10-12 mph rides. There's a lot of newbie fatties interested in rides as well.