Gazette Articles

Ride London Freecycle 2022

The Freecycle event is an opportunity to cycle around the famous locations of London without any traffic. It attracts all ability cyclists who just want to spend some time wheeling until the main event comes back into town. LCC (London Cycling Campaign) organised the Feeder Rides and the Croydon group was led by our own VInce Hemment.

Some remarks on the Ride London.
It was all very well planned by Vince, starting with the two recce rides, going back by the Wandle Trail on the recce rides and stopping at Merton Abbey Mills made it an enjoyable ride.

Here are what some of his volunteers thought.

Terri and I were asked by Vince to assist the ABC with marshalling the London Free Ride on Sunday 29 May which we did so happily, although it was a first time experience for both of us of in assisting a group ride.

We safely navigated the route from Croydon to Westminster with no dramas and once there it was great to see so many cyclists participating en masse, in their thousands, a truly diverse and colourful crowd, young and old.
All were having fun and making the most of the opportunity to ride through central London along a traffic free route past some of the capitals most iconic sights on a warm sunny day.

It was a welcome return for this event to the city after a two year enforced absence and by what we witnessed thoroughly enjoyed by all….!!

Asif and Terri

It was all very well planned by Vince, starting with the two recce rides, going back by the Wandle Trail on the recce rides and stopping at Merton Abbey Mills made it an enjoyable ride..

When Vince texted me before 7am on the morning of the main ride asking if I would marshall the ride I was apprehensive, thinking the ride would include many very young riders,and very difficult to control, but the ride went very well with no very young riders.

Was very well marshalled by Anerley members Mick, John E, Alison, Karen, Bob Gilly, Terri, Asif, Vince and Vince’s partner Pat. The use of a set of walkie-talkies one for Vince has ride leader and Bob Gilly at the back of the ride, sorted out problems very quickly. I enjoyed the ride to and from the centre of London more than I did riding on the closed roads in the centre of London, but I would do it all again.

John Eden

I thoroughly enjoyed working as part of the Croydon team. We worked extremely well together with clear communication from experienced riders benefiting those who were new to Marshalling.

A great success. I shall look forward to next years ride.

Alison Plant
The Dream Team of Marshalls

Vince shared his thoughts of what is required to pull off a safe and exciting fun day out for the assortment of abilities that the event attracts.

Feeder Rides

These are groups of riders (general public who have Registered with event organisers, Ride London) who are Marshalled into the centre of London to enjoy the FreeCycle event.

Free Cycle Event

The centre of London is closed to all vehicles, allowing cyclist to ride the centre of London following a given route.

The two key elements of successfully leading a large group of riders of mixed ages & ability are:

– Planning / Organisation

– Communication

Planning / Organisation

• Ride Leader: Liaise with LCC, Completes Risk Assessment, Creates structure of Marshall’s, manages actual ride, pre rides the route (twice).

• Ride Group Leader: leads the ride. Must not cross junction until it has been secured, controls the pace / speed of the group.

• Backstop: looks out for stragglers, communicates with Ride Leader via Walkie-talkie.

• Junction Controllers: secures junctions ahead of group to avoid group stopping & to allow group to cross safely.

• Floater’s: rides with main body of group. Provides help as required, also ensures rides ride safely.

• Flexibility: allow for last minute changes, Marshall’s going sick etc.

• Complete Route RA (Risk Assessment): to be submitted to LCC.

• Ride Leader Pre ride route:  with ALL Marshall’s, at least once, to discuss how group will be managed, junctions controlled.

• Ride Leader to Pre ride route again: as close to actual date as possible, in case there are roadworks / other delays which would interfere with the ride.

• Provide written instructions: to marshalls rather than verbal, so everyone understands their role & how their role fits into the overall structure.

• Ride Leader: Before starting, gives presentation to riders how the group will be managed & role of Marshall’s. What to do at junctions / traffic lights, etc.

• Ride Leader / Marshall: to ride ahead of group preventing any vehicles from entering ‘pinch points’.

• Ride Leader / Marshall: rides ahead of group asking / indicating to approaching vehicles to slow down.

• Group morale: It’s important riders have confidence in the Marshall’s so they can enjoy the ride.

• Junction Controllers: secure junctions / decide when & how to cross.

• Traffic Lights: don’t approach with a strung out group. Allow group to ‘bunch up’ approaching Traffic Lights when they have just turned to Red, giving more time for group to prepare to cross when lights turn to Green.

• It’s all to do with timing.

• Priority: Weaker / slower riders / children to the front.

• Backstop Communication: With a large group it’s difficult for the Ride Leader to communicate with the Backstop over a long distance. Therefore, use Walkie-talkie to keep in touch.

• The group MUST keep moving, however, allow time to stop to bunch up, at same time explain to riders how the next difficulty will be negotiated.

• Talk to the group during stops to find out if they are happy with the progress, ask for feedback.

• With group size of 60 / 80 you ideally want approx 14 Marshall’s.

• Allow for Marshall’s going sick at last minute.

• All Marshall’s to wear suitable Tabards, so they can be easily identified by riders & other vehicles.

• Going through parks etc all pedestrians have priority. Watch out for joggers, dogs, children, etc.

• CLEARLY inform group what time you will be leaving for return journey home.


– LCC > Ride Leader
– Ride Leader > LCC
– Ride Leader > Backstop (Walkie-talkie picture)
– Ride Leader > All Marshall’s
– Ride Leader > group riders.
– Group Riders > Ride Leader

Using a Walkie-talkie between Ride Leader & Backstop makes life so much easier.

It takes 2 or 3 miles to get everyone into the rhythm of the ride.


I’m not saying this is the right / best way to manage a large group ride, however, I know it works.