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  1. #1
    Senior Member oneiros's Avatar
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    Bike Ride Distance?

    Thinking about planning a bike ride for next term, and wondering how long to make it. We usually meet for an hour and a half, so how far (along fairly flat country roads - maybe a short section of towpath) could I reasonably expect the Scouts to manage?

    Thanks in advance,

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    Our last bike ride was on woodland paths and the odd field so no roads but we managed 6 miles in an hour and a quarter if that helps. If you are on roads should be going faster than we were.

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    I have found that scouts have a huge range of experience and competence. We had one last year that could not put two feet on the pedals without falling over, plus one that took a good thirty seconds to get going each time we stopped. Then have to stop at each bend. Everyone was getting frustrated with my calls if "Ben stop and wait for us". Our slow group managed about four miles in four hours. The fast group probably did 20 minutes. The middle group got utterly lost, which was all my fault, even though I had tried to give the leader a map before they started.


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    Senior Member big chris's Avatar
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    aim low... very low.

    for a walk with scouts and a 90 minute window, i'd not look at more than 2 miles.

    Cycling? can they cycle? are their bikes any good?

    i'd be surprised at you managing more than about 15kph average and that does not allow for punctures, crashes, waiting for the slow kid etc...

    this is one where you will need to break them into groups. At least three... fast, medium and slow and you need to do the assessment...

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    ESL and DESC ianw's Avatar
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    God yes, I've had explorers in tears because they were holding everyone else up, I've had them decide they could go a bit further than I suggested, so it was getting dark and they were late back, then only some of them turned up, as one of them had broken a chain and was walking back with another one, his girlfriend, hmm, while another group one had an asthma attack another's brakes had failed...

    Some scouts will have a BMX and spend every dry hour at the skate park. Some scouts will have a halfords special 2 tonner that fitted them 4 years ago, with rusted shut gears and brakes.

    The best success we had was an evening of cycling orienteering in a local forestry commission forest, so they were in small groups and were on forest tracks mostly. If their bike broke they were only a mile or so away from the start and could walk it back.
    Ian Wilkins
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  8. #6
    Senior Member oneiros's Avatar
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    I was thinking about six miles, with an option to extend it should we somehow manage to achieve a half-decent speed.

    Wasn't planning on splitting the group up but now you've got me thinking. If I had three groups of eight, would I still be okay with three leaders or would I need six? A risk assessment might suggest one at the head and tail of each group...

  9. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by oneiros View Post
    I was thinking about six miles, with an option to extend it should we somehow manage to achieve a half-decent speed.

    Wasn't planning on splitting the group up but now you've got me thinking. If I had three groups of eight, would I still be okay with three leaders or would I need six? A risk assessment might suggest one at the head and tail of each group...
    Depends how far apart the groups are and how good comms are. I wouldn't like to have one come off badly, be bleeding, and have to deal with that and the other 7. But if next group is only 5 mins further along and good coms, they could come back for you...

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    We had radios, four adults and three young leaders split between three groups. It would be been fine if the middle group had not got lost. Not only that but they could not find the plasters in the first aid pouch (which I found in seconds).

    Risk assess

    With a previous group we did a meet up at a local large park and had they going around the perimeter. It was a good way to assess their skills and their bikes. That gave us the chance to put them in different groups before the start.

    The other thing is to get one person from each group to look at a map and route way before the event. That has caused me more issues than the obvious stuff. (The first time it was me as green leader and not having a clue where we were.)


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    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    20km in three hours, round trip of 40km is possible...

    But, we did it on hired bikes from Bruges to Sluis, mostly along the canalside with no other traffic or pedestrians.

    We had it all, fast , slow, and one non cyclist (Grrr!), Oh, and if you are familiar with their hire bikes, they have locks. Whatever you do Smithy, if you lock that bike DO NOT LOSE THE KEY!!! Yup, you guessed it...
    Ewan Scott

    It seems that there are a lot of Nawyecka Comanch around....





    Nawyecka Comanch'": "Means roundabout--man says he's going one way, means to go t'other" Ethan Edwards - The Searchers



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    Quote Originally Posted by oneiros View Post
    I was thinking about six miles, with an option to extend it should we somehow manage to achieve a half-decent speed.

    Wasn't planning on splitting the group up but now you've got me thinking. If I had three groups of eight, would I still be okay with three leaders or would I need six? A risk assessment might suggest one at the head and tail of each group...
    Sounds like you have 24 scouts and 3 adults? I would say that was too many people to have as one group on roads - you'll be strung out quite a bit making it hard to keep an eye on everyone and you will also be taking up loads of space on the road which may cause problems. Smaller groups are the way to go IMO - if you are short on leaders can you ask for some parent volunteers?

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  14. #11
    a quiver full of barbs merryweather's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oneiros View Post
    Thinking about planning a bike ride for next term, and wondering how long to make it. We usually meet for an hour and a half, so how far (along fairly flat country roads - maybe a short section of towpath) could I reasonably expect the Scouts to manage?

    Thanks in advance,
    sometimes our scouts average 10 mph (including stops) but we tend to work on 5mph at the planning stage. for your evening (?) ride i would suggest something around 6 miles (or 10km). it will depend on the ride surface, numbers taking part, and gradient.

    a good trail grit or tarmac surface will offer the higher speeds but rough or grassy surfaces will slow you down quite a bit.

    take for example the brum & wuss towpath. a couple of years ago wife and i rode this from brum (gas st basin) to wuss, 30 miles. going was good on the towpath up to kings norton but then you have the on-road detour as you can't go through wast hill tunnel and thereafter you get a few stretches of unsealed grassy surfaces which can be pot-holed and muddy with frequent ponding and strictly for off-road bikes. detours as well to bypass shortwood and tardebigge tunnels. only when you start to near wuss does it get better with more grit and tarmac surfaces. the first bit we could average 10 mph and the last bit 7mph but the in between grassy bits we were down to 2-3 mph it was that bad.

    there again you can get some really good towpath surfaces such as the lea valley, cycling hertford to gunpowder park at waltham abbey, stay o/n at gilwell, and then rejoin next day and continue south to limehouse basin (and then on road/cycleways through canary wharf and under the river to finish at greenwich obs.)

    numbers taking part really do influence your speed. 6 - 8 is ideal but anything over 12 can be a nightmare with frequent stops.

    gradient is an obvious challenge to speed!

    with scouts we tend to use traffic free routes, for example, tissington and high peak trails, longdendale trail, mawddach trail. we also have a train station close by so we can use the train to avoid some traffic routes. we are fortunate to have easy access to a number of traffic free trails and can plan routes from just a few miles to 10, 20 or even 30 miles. this ease of access to traffic free trails also means we can do cycling throughout the group, beavers, cubs and scouts without any great worries/concerns. we can also put routes together to create 25 mile day rides and 50 mile 2-day cycle expeditions.

    TM
    retired 21 March 2017

  15. #12
    Senior Member oneiros's Avatar
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    Yes; the section of the Worcester and Birmingham, where it meets the Droitwich Junction Canal, is a little tricky on a bike. Not surprisingly, I'm very familiar with that section of the waterways, even having helped clear some if at part of the restoration project while I was a Scout (30+ years ago).

    Thanks for the suggestions and advice; I'll take it all into consideration when planning next term.
    Last edited by oneiros; 21-03-2017 at 08:27 AM.

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    Whether 3 adults is enough to supervise 24 Scouts depends a great deal on the roads. If you can be sure that there will be almost no traffic and you are confident that the sight lines for the drivers are good, then you might get away with it.

    I spent a few years helping to run Family Cycle Rides (before I got involved in Scouts). These rides were for parents and children (of all ages), we never took unaccompanied children so the risk assessment was a bit different.

    For route planning we worked on about 5miles per hour. This included breaks for drinks, 'technicals', accidents etc.

    We all attended a Group Leaders course at ww.cyclinguk.org, which was very useful, but the real training was 4 years of monthly cycle rides!

    Quiet country lanes present their own special problems. The most dangerous issue is down to sight lines for drivers. Cars will speed through lanes, and drivers will not expect slow moving or stationary groups of cyclist (even if they should). And cyclists have no concept of the risk, they will stop in the middle of a blind bend without even thinking about it.

    We worked out a strategy where we put a 'point man' about 100 metres ahead of the group (in hi-viz) - it was their job to warn oncoming drivers. Then a 'ride leader' at the front of the group, their job was to set the pace and no-one was allowed to pass them - the 'ride leader' could be a responsible Scout/Explorer (it can also be used a 'reward' position for good behaviour). Finally a 'tail end Charlie' - this is the worst job (and must be a strong willed adult) - they have to warn traffic coming up behind and block them if it is not safe to pass (driver can get very upset about being held up sometimes).

    If you have kids that are much faster and more competent than the others you can use them as 'runners' to communicate between the front and the back. If you get strung out, it can be quite a long way between front and back. If you pick the fast kid that is causing you a pain at the front and tell him to pass a message to the back every now and again he will do twice the distance of anyone else.

    Junction handling is the other element that needs careful thought. We would do 'sighting' rides a few weeks before to work out a plan for how each junction would be handled safely. This is another place that you can use the more experienced Scouts to help the others. Sending the fast ones ahead to (not beyond the 'point man') to check whether a junction is clear is another way to keep them interested. They have to stay on the junction until 'tail-end Charlie' comes along and then they can catch up the front.

    Make a careful plan before you start about where and when you are going to stop and ensure that all the leaders/experienced Scouts know. You can also choose not to stop if you are all together and it is going well. But you are stung out it can be hard for those at the back to communicate the need to stop to the front. Also agree some hand signals (if you do not have radios [don't reveal the radios to the Scouts so that you can make them zoom up and down as runners]) - we used arm straight up in the air to signal 'all good' and arm stuck out to the side to signal 'not good'.

    Finally, if you possibly can, leave the 'Leader In Charge' in a floating role (not on Point or on the Tail). So with your 3 adults I would have one as Pointman, one as Tailend Charlie and the Leader in Charge floating, with a Scout acting as the Ride Leader.

    If you can, take a much smaller group (2 or 3) of the most experienced on the ride a week before and 'train' them to help.


    All the best.

    Richard

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    Richard's given some good advice there.

    With 90 minutes you're looking at 60 minutes of riding. Start by leading everyone in an M check (http://www.sustrans.org.uk/sites/def...bikemcheck.pdf) but not on their own bike. People are much more likely to bring up a fault on a bike that's not theirs. When I've got folk out (I'm a qualified MTB guide) I get every rider to stand in a circle and form the shape of spokes on a wheel. Then they take charge of the bike to their left/right and check that.

    Get the bikes checked and make sure everyone understands gear changes and knows how to do it on their bike. Yep, even Scout age.

    You're looking at 10 minutes doing an M check but that 10 minutes saves you a heap of time later when something goes wrong.

    As for times/distance, ride it yourself first (part of your risk assessment anyway) then double it. Along roads/towpath 6 miles is achievable. Don't underestimate the impact wind can have.

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    First of all don't be discouraged. It sounds really difficult and complicated but, in the end, it's a bike ride, which is something people of all ages have been doing for nearly a century and a half.

    I led the mountain biking for a District expedition to Scotland last year. Most of the relevant points have already been made:
    • Expect a wide range of abilities. Unless you can plan for different groups to do different distances, set an easy pace and be prepared for plenty of stops. Take the really keen out further another time.
    • If you can do a loop with a short-cut, that's an easy way to cope with distances being unpredictable. 6 miles in an evening will be doing well. You may do a lot less. Make enjoyment, not distance, the objective. Have an extended stop for a snack and drink part way round.
    • Definitely ride in small groups, even 8 Scouts is a lot (I'd prefer 6). Apart from issues already mentioned, collisions between riders is something to consider in your risk assessment. Riding in a group takes experience, which Scouts don't have. Making the groups smaller helps a lot. Also, in any circumstance, knowing you have everyone when there are 24 is difficult.
    • I'd prefer two leaders per group, but one is OK if it's quiet or especially on off-road paths, especially if supplemented with a floating leader. If only one leader with a group, you need some means of keeping groups close enough to support each other.
    • Do some work on braking, control and gears in advance. Get Scouts to demonstrate a controlled stop. With unfamiliar bikes that had disc brakes, which many had not used before, we spent an hour with each new group doing this before departing for the day's ride in Scotland. We did get crashes, but only of a kind that allowed us to laugh at the victims. You shouldn't have quite that level of unfamiliarity (and unnecessarily excellent brakes!) to deal with.
    • Skill will vary, and you may well get crashes for the most bizarre reasons. I've had Scouts fall off for no obvious reason at all on clear roads and paths. One just developed an increasing wobble, on a flat railway path with no-one and nothing near her. Fortunately, and contrary to some beliefs, most bike crashes are rather minor in nature and some, as above, are just plain funny (but don't get complacent, obviously).
    • I understand the idea of leaders front and back. The back is the more important (you can see everything that's happening and you can protect against traffic from behind). Don't make it too regimented or it won't be fun. However, you need to be clear about keeping the group together and you need to have thought about the traffic that you may encounter.
    • I recommend cyclists' track mitts (fingerless padded gloves, cheap from supermarkets and so on). Any Scout who does fall off is going to put his/her hands out to protect her/himself. Mitts stop gravel rash, which accounts for quite a few injuries. They were part of the reason that we just laughed at the crashes in Scotland.
    Last edited by DKRSL; 22-03-2017 at 11:59 PM.
    SL, 11th Hitchin

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