What to Expect on a Ride

The HRCC welcomes all riders, especially new and guest riders. Although not a "casual" club, we've prepared the following details to provide a sense of the level or intensity and duration of our club rides. Currently, there is one group that has both a "ride leader" and a "ride sweep" although riders are expected to ride at the published pace. If you're not sure whether a particular ride is right for you, we suggest erring on the safe side and picking one of our "flat" rides if it's you're first time with the club.

During the "low" season (October through February) rides will largely be designed for maintaining or developing "base-level" fitness. This will be a lot of conversational to slightly harder riding with short intervals to maintain strength.

By early March (weather-permitting) the club will begin more intense climbing rides in and around Douglas, Jefferson, and Boulder counties. During this time, you can expect both intensity and duration to increase.

As early April approaches, the club will split into two separate groups that will have differences in pace, but route and ride times will be the same. More is outlined on our "Elite" and "Legacy" ride groups further down the page.


  • General Rules[+]

    Helmets are mandatory…No exceptions!

    Abide by
    ALL traffic signs and rules during group rides and while wearing the HRCC cycling kit!

    Aerobars are NOT allowed on HRCC group rides!

    Ride Plans and Zones (This is important)
    The HRCC promotes structured ride plans with each route to encourage the principles of structured training and group riding. If the listed rides do not include aspects of your preferred ride for the scheduled day, please consider an alternate option. 

    Fixed Gear Bikes are allowed BUT: 
    Only ride the fixed gear bike where it is safe (i.e. up front or out back), but never in the pack. Now with that said we would much rather have you show up on a regular road machine and save the fixed gear for a nice solo ride.
  • Road Rules and Considerations[+]

    Point obstructions out in the road
    Keep an eye out for the other riders, traffic, snakes, sticks and other objects that could cause issues. 

    Ride 2X2, where safe
    As much as possible ride 2 X 2 and please stop for mechanical problems. WE (generally) LEAVE NO ONE BEHIND ON OUR RIDES! 

    Ride to suit the conditions
    Be mindful that what is considered safe and acceptable when riding solo might not be safe or acceptable when riding in a group. Also please be mindful of the riding conditions (weather, traffic, and other cyclists) so as to keep the group safe.  Example: If rolling through heavy auto traffic it’s probably best to not sprint for traffic light.

    Be open and respectful to feedback from other group members. Be a good HRCC member and take the advice. The advice comes from a good place… we want you and everyone else to be safe.

    Ride in a predictable fashion
    Close riding demands that everyone be on the same wavelength. NO QUICK CHANGES OF DIRECTION, KEEP TO YOUR LINE. Maintain a consistent direction of motion and avoid weaving. We are on a group ride not a race, so be mindful and choose your ride opportunities with care for both yourself and the group.

    Ride a Straight Line 
    Keep your actual focus 20 or 30 feet in front of the bike. Remember, the bike will go where your eyes go. Keep your head up. Don’t become fixated on the rider in front of you. Regularly glance 3 to 5 riders ahead. Look back carefully. 

    Signal to others
    Signal to others. Provide hand signals and/or yell to signal gravel, debris, other riders, cars, pedestrians, turns, and pace line rotations. Warn others of your intentions. If you need to stop or pull over indicate or shout your intentions and do it slowly. Move to the left or right and yell “slowing” or “stopping” before you brake.

    Always pass on the left. Don’t pass on the right unless you know there is room and the rider in front absolutely knows you are coming. 

    Be considerate of the riders behind you. If you must spit or blow your nose move out of the pace line enough so no one is directly behind you.

    Be Wary on Climbs (especially at the foot of a climb)
    A major cause of group crashes is riders who stand abruptly. They slow for a second, causing the rider behind to hit their rear wheel and spill. To avoid this danger, let the gap open a bit on hills or ride a foot to either side. 
  • Pacelines[+]

    Often, the HRCC will ride in pace lines. For the most part and where legal (enough room), we'll ride in a 2x2 formation. This is often difficult for new riders to grasp and is something that we practice regularly. However, here are some guidelines for pace lines in general.

    Pace Line (PART I)
    In a pace line or riding 2x2, don’t accelerate when it’s your turn at the front. Note your mph and maintain the group’s speed when the lead rider pulls off. After your own bout against the wind, pull off to the side agreed upon and stay close to the others as you soft pedal and slide back to the rear of the paceline. It keeps everyone as far out of the traffic flow as possible, making paceline riding possible even on busier roads.

    Pace Line (part II)
    As the current leader pulls off, his or her speed must remain the same before slowing to ensure the new leader an opportunity to safely take the lead of the pack. Once the retiring leader is safely over (typically to the left), he or she slows to efficiently return to the back of the pace line. As the retiring leader nears the back of the pace line, it is very useful for the end rider of the pace line to tell the retiring leader that they are approaching the end of the line. Once the retiring leader gets near the end of the pace line, it is useful to get out of the saddle and bring the speed back up to the pace line speed. This out of the saddle approach serves two purposes. First, it helps the retiring leader speed up and, second, it provides an opportunity to stretch their leg muscles.

    Pace Line (part III)
    Pulling through–The new leader must maintain the same speed without sprinting, speeding up or slowing down during the first few seconds of the transition. If the new leader wants to increase the speed, then the best results are achieved with a slow increase in order to keep the pace line smooth and efficient.

    Pace Line (part IV)
    Want more info? Here is a really good pace line discussion which is posted at San Diego Bicycle Club's web site: Paceline Skills I and Paceline Skills II. This is a great presentation of Paceline Skills so we figured linking to it benefits everyone.

    Some Final Thoughts on Pacelines

    Protect your front wheel
    If your rear wheel is struck a fall is unlikely because it has nothing to do with steering the bike. However, if your front wheel is contacted it will often be twisted off line faster than you can react. You’ll almost certainly go down. Help prevent this by never overlapping someone’s rear wheel. 

    Use the brakes sparingly
    Feather the levers lightly instead of clutching at them. Easy on your brakes. Most crashes are caused by someone braking sharply and the rider behind touching wheels with them. If you are getting too close to the rider immediately in front of you, try soft pedaling instead of braking to adjust the gap. If you need to brake, do it gently and gently tap on the rear brake.

    If you get gapped
    Try to maintain steady speed. No surging. Don’t open gaps. Don’t make things worse by accelerating too hard, overrunning the wheel in front, then grabbing the brakes. Instead, ease back up to the rider in front. If you don’t become proficient at following a wheel, you can waste more energy than you save by constant yo-yoing.
  • Ride Groups[+]

    Legacy and Elite Ride Pace – What’s the difference?

    For 2014, the HRCC is introducing a new two-pace system to both invite more folks to try our rides as well as provide for greater peer challenges on our scheduled rides. All routes will be the same, with the same start and end points and times. The difference will be in the pace of the rides. All quoted paces are “averages” and are not indicative of a constant speed.

    These groups will be in effect from April 1 through September 30 for each calendar year.

    Elite Pace

    Our “Elite” group will carry the pace at 15-20 mph+ over the course of the route. At times, they may decide to add additional “loops” or distance based on local knowledge of the route. Elite riders are expected to both focus on group riding as well as maintain all rules of the road and applicable laws while riding at a faster pace.

    Legacy Pace

    Our “Legacy” group will ride at pace between 12-18 mph. This has traditionally been the pace at which the club has focused its’ efforts. For many of our members, this pace provides for both adequate training intensity for annual events as well as the basic camaraderie and “club feel” that these members are looking for.

    This group may also serve as a “fallback” should the rigors of training prove to be too much for our “Elite” riders.

Wanna Lead a Ride? A few things to consider...
Ride Leader Guidelines and Suggestions

  • An Overview[+]

    Providing HRCC members with a variety of challenging and enjoyable rides of different distances, elevations and intensities is our primary club mission. It is however, highly dependent on our members leading rides on routes they enjoy. Without your help, we don't have the variety or frequency of rides we would all like. Especially over the past few years, we've worked hard to add additional and new routes to the regular schedule and continue to look to you for route input.

    Sometimes this can feel a bit overwhelming and certainly intimidating, but there really isn't anything to worry about. Those who have read the ride overviews are there because they are excited about the ride and in joining a great group of cyclists.

    The following guidelines and suggestions are intended to provide answers to questions you may have along with with system that the club uses. Although we don't typically print our ride guides, we leverage tools such as "MapMyRide" in our ride schedule to provide an overview of the route. For intensity, we focus our Saturday rides on flat routes and Sundays are typically devoted to climbing and higher intensity rides. In addition to what's here, a Board member is always available to help develop routes and assist with duration and intensity considerations.

    Ride leaders are the representatives of the Highlands Ranch Cycling Club and are the first contact that potential new members have with the Club. Be as informative and friendly as possible. Take the time to ride with new members and be available to help or answer questions. Your planning, enthusiasm and leadership of the ride will make it an enjoyable experience for everyone.
  • Planning the Ride[+]

    HRCC Ride Leaders have a number of resources at their disposal to plan rides. From personal experience and routes to online resources such as Strava and MapMyRide.

    When planning a weekend ride, keep in mind the time of year and goals for that ride. If additional perspective on rides is needed, ride postings from years past can always be referenced by emailing admin@ridehrcc.com.

    Although route sheets aren't required as part of weekend routes, designated stopping points are helpful for new members or members new to a particular route.

    We have members of all abilities and interests. So rides with different start times, locations, distances, elevation gain, pace etc. are all useful. Some members will appreciate any ride you lead. Ride Leaders have discretion on when, where, and what route to lead. If possible, consider starting or ending a ride at a club sponsors business or stopping there for coffee or lunch en route.
    Drive or ride the route about a few days before the scheduled ride for any last minute changes, construction issues or road hazards.

  • Ride Scheduling[+]

    A ride is not an official HRCC ride unless it is announced via our email list or published on our website or an approved channel including MeetUp.com. Often, rides will also be published to Facebook, Twitter and Google+, but do not represent an official listing or the ride.

    Full Members of the club will receive email invites when rides are posted.

    Ride Leaders schedule a ride by submitting a ride description to the HRCC President by 6pm on the Tuesday preceding the ride weekend.

    Once the ride is posted, it's the Ride Leader's responsibility to verify the details of the ride and immediately notify the club of any changes required.
  • Day of the Ride[+]


    Assemble the group of riders and introduce yourself and any guests. Let guests know about the club and how to join.

    Be sure that everyone is aware of the route, any identified re-group points, plan for the ride and that everyone has a helmet.

    Highlight any water and food stops along the way as well as any significant climbs or tricky aspect of the route.

    Rides cannot be cancelled by email or online alone since guests and some members may not have access to the email list. Facebook, meetup.com, and a cancellation of the Google calendar event must be executed 12 hours prior to the ride start. Foul weather, temperatures that would promote ice, or existing snow and ice and high winds are ground for cancellation in addition to rain. Other unsafe conditions are at the discretion of the Club President.


    Safe, legal and fun and enjoyable rides are the objective of every club ride. To meet these objectives, it is Club policy that no riders are ever dropped. Ride leaders must account for all riders, either by all riders' arrival at the end of the event or knowledge of the rider's voluntary decision to abort the ride.

    It is recommended that riders leaving the route advise the ride leader to enable accountability.

    It is recommended that all riders carry identification in some form, including the name and contact information of who to contact in the event of an emergency.

    Sweeping the course is not "policy", but a preferred option and some riders may be asked to fulfill a "ride sweep" function for a section of the route.

    You may lead the group from the front or the rear as it is possible to stay on top of the route either way. Some riders chose to lead from the back as faster riders tend to be more self-supporting and the slower ones need more assistance. Others may chose to lead from the front so they may control the regroups and the pace. It's your choice, just be sure to communicate your approach effectively throughout the ride.


    Make sure all riders have returned safely. It's your responsibility to account for all riders and their safe return. This may require riding the route in reverse to ensure the safety of slower riders.
  • Final Notes[+]

    Our insurance provider requires that all riders sign the annual rider waiver. Without that, the Club will not honor riders who would like to participate. The Club membership and ride waiver can be found HERE

    Helmets are required for all riders on all Club rides - THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS.

    Accidents: If an individual on your ride has an accident, please contact the Club President as soon as possible.

    Thank you for being a ride leader. Your leadership is critical to the Club maintaining rides on a regular schedule and introducing new members to the joy of riding with the HRCC. Mentor a new member with Ride Leader potential as they are the lifeblood of the club!