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January 11, 2017 / bikesbytesbites

Leadership Training

Years ago, I wanted to be able to lead bicycle trips (day and weekend) for the Five Boro Bicycle Club.  They offered a training course for potential leaders. I passed the course and led some rides. Soon after, I became the leadership coordinator for the club and taught the course for several years.

Since this was a course in leading bicycle trips for a particular club, it had several sections that were relevant either to just that club (good places to meet and ride in and around NYC) or to bicycling (how to fix flat tires and other mechanical difficulties; how to ride safely.)  However, it also had sections that were more general — how to shop, cook, and organize meals for a group of people; how to lead that group of people.

The topic that has stuck with me the most (over all these years) was “How to make decisions that affect a group”.  Since this was a bicycling course, the examples given pertained to a bicycle ride.  However, I’ve used the principles I learned  throughout different aspects of my life (especially my work) since then.

The crux of the topic is that the group leader has available (at least) three ways to make a decision for the group. You have to determine which technique to apply in which circumstances.


  • Example – Should we stay an extra day here (because of the weather/because it’s so attractive) and miss another attraction/route?
  • Principle – Group buy-in is critical, as the group will have to live with this decision for a while.


  • Example – Wow! Restaurants! Should we have Italian or Chinese for dinner? Majority wins. Or maybe we could even (temporarily) split the group.
  • Principle – A non-critical decision with no long-lasting effects.


  • Example – Rider1 just had an accident and is lying in the middle of the road.
    Rider2: Stand here, to divert traffic.
    Rider3: Call 911 to report the accident. (At least now I probably don’t have to preface this with “Find a phone, so you can …”)
    Rider4: Take charge of the rest of the group and lead them to our destination for the evening.
    Rider5:  Call the hotel/camping area/hostel and tell them we may be a little late.
  • Principle – Very high stakes and immediate, definitive action(s) required.



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