Behind the scenes of a Year of Yay!

Year of Yay! volunteer ride leads and sweeps on their January 2016 route vetting ride. 

Year of Yay! volunteer ride leads and sweeps on their January 2016 route vetting ride. 

Think you're too _____ to ride a Year of Yay!? Nope! We got you—and you got this! 

We are in our 5th (!!!) Year of Yay! ride series with a ride EVERY month since January 2012. Over the years, given plenty of mistakes and gracious feedback, we’ve learned a thing or 80 about how to lead a ride so that everyone feels safe, welcome and cared for. And we’re working hard behind the scenes to standardize the Year of Yay! experience, train a cadre of über volunteers to support the rides and ensure that each ride forwards our mission of helping people replace car trips with bike trips. 

Indeed, you might be surprised to know how much intention and preparation happens in the shadows of a Year of Yay!, all in service of helping all participants have a successful, fun ride experience. But we’re revealing some of our ride secrets here, so that you truly know deep down: WE. GOT. YOU. Therefore: YOU. GOT. THIS. Year of Yay! is an accessible ride that supports all comers as they gain the skills, knowledge and confidence to ride roads from place to place. 

On a Year of Yay! ride, you may be challenged, but you will also be supported. Our volunteers are all required to manifest our core values and be trained specifically to support this ride. Here’s how:

Your challenge: We ride roads—and no roads are too difficult for us to ride. This year, for example, our rides all start and end from Whole Foods Market at Easton (adjacent to Morse, Sunbury and Seltzer Roads, just to name a few). 

Our support: One week before each Year of Yay! ride, our team of volunteer leads and sweeps—1 of each for every 20 riders we anticipate—rides the draft route to see how it works on the ground and discuss how they’re going to usher the group though its particular challenges. No one is allowed to lead or sweep unless they’ve been on this ride! That way, when the group breaks during our ride, as it always does (see: “We follow traffic law”, below), each sub-group retains a lead and a sweep who know the route and will help you navigate it. You got this!

Your challenge: We follow traffic law. We don’t “cork” intersections (i.e., block cars from proceeding until all our riders have made it through), we don’t ride 6 abreast, we don’t roll through crosswalks when pedestrians are there. Etc., etc., etc.

Our support: Oh, so you’re not a bike law expert? Well, then. No ride for you! (jokes…) Seriously, though. Come 15 minutes early for a pre-ride chat that introduces you the rules of the road and our ride, and answers all your questions. Then, on the ride itself, we provide several trained “Cruise Directors” who watch for and gently correct any behavior that’s unsafe or unlawful. You got this!

Your challenge: We ride 15–20 miles. Sometimes, when the weather is nice, we may even ride slightly more. And there will be hills, sweat and mechanical issues, yes.

Our support: Year of Yay! is a NO-DROP RIDE, and we mean it. We ride at a conversational pace (approximately 10–12mph) and make frequent stops at which you can rest. But if you’re still struggling we have an emergency sweep who will stay with you, no matter what. We also have volunteer wrenches who have signed on to help fix the minor mechanical problems that occasionally pop up. That’s right: you got this! We've hosted riders of all ages and abilities, and while not everyone has finished a ride, they've all felt very much supported as they decided whether and how to proceed. 

Year of Yay! rides are truly a blast. You'll meet great people, see parts of the city you never knew existed and become confident riding roads of all kinds. It'll all seem quite effortless, joyful, carefree! But behind the scenes is a vast network of support that makes it so. And we got you!