Leader’s Blog – July ’24 – Chloe Wilson

Each month, we’ll be sharing the stories and insights of our group leaders. If you are interested in giving leading a go, talk to your group leader at club, or email hello@hydeparkharriers.co.uk we have tonnes of resources to help you, a route library, training sessions and support.  

This month, we’re chatting to Chloe who, as well as occasionally leading Tuesday groups runs, often leads group rides on a Monday evening for HPH triathlon.

How did you get in to leading?

When I first started cycling with the HPH triathlon club, there was only a slower group once a month. I loved it and wanted to get out more regularly, but I lacked the speed to keep up with the faster group. So, when the Monday evening rides returned the next year with a regular second group, I offered to have a go at leading to support the continuation of two groups. The HPH Monday rides are very friendly and relaxed, and you don’t get that in a lot of cycling clubs so it’s great to support this space for the less serious cyclist to enjoy group riding.

What do you love about leading?

I just love cycling with my friends, and leading facilitates this. It’s also been great to see people gain confidence and speed on their bikes in the sessions.

Mostly though, the cycling section of the HPH tri club has been become a female dominated space. A quick Google shows that this is really uncommon within cycling clubs in the UK. Only one in four members of cycling clubs are female! I feel very privileged and proud to be leading a group of wonderful women every week in a sport that is ordinarily very male dominated. We do also get men joining us and we obviously love that too, it’s just good to shout about the women.

Do you have any interesting or creative ways of leading?

Not really! I do try and make the routes varied so go out trialling new routes in my own time to look for nice quiet roads and pretty views but that’s about it.

What would your advice be to anyone thinking about starting to lead?

It’s not as scary as you think it’s going to be. Leading social rides is mostly about planning the route and then remembering where it goes, then shouting ‘left’ and ‘right’ at appropriate times. I’m certainly not the fastest rider in the group and am not always at the front. So, if you can plan a route and have some way of remembering and navigating it, then you can lead the group. And maybe have a back-marker, because it’s hard to adjust to looking back and seeing if everyone is still there and it does feel bad when you lose someone…. (I did go back and get them).

Do you have any specific stories about leading you’d like to share?

I did fall off my bike and land on my chin the very first time I led a group. It was dramatic and there was lots of blood but fortunately we had two medics recently trained in wound care on the ride and they did an excellent job of picking the stone out of my chin before we carried on the ride. The fall was nothing to do with leading before you get put off…! Just some big rain, gravel and a tight corner. Not my finest hour but I’ve got a nice scar as a souvenir and got back on my bike, physically and metaphorically, leading again the next week.

Thanks Chloe for your thoughts on leading and for regularly volunteering to lead sessions! If you are interested in giving leading a go, talk to your group leader at club, or email hello@hydeparkharriers.co.uk.