CTS Riders Guide

CTS Riders Guide - The Details

CTS rides are different from the regular Cascade Free Group Rides you may be familiar with. There are special procedures necessary to ensure every rider gets the most out of their training. Please familiarize yourself with these procedures and come ready to follow them each week.


CTS is a training series. You will build endurance over the course of the series by riding either longer distances or greater elevation. For some riders, the increase in distance will be the biggest challenge; for others it will be the elevation gain. It depends on your physical ability, riding skill and equipment.

Ride Leaders are experienced cyclists who are there to help you train and to keep you safe on the road. There will be at least two Ride Leaders with every group and you will be able to locate them by their pink or yellow Ride Leader jerseys. Be sure to ask them any questions you have about preparing for your big summer event. They are available at rest stops and after the ride to answer your questions about riding skills, equipment, training or anything else cycling-related that is on your mind.

We ride only once a week, so we strongly recommend augmenting your weekly CTS training ride by following an additional training plan on your own. It is especially helpful to follow up your Saturday CTS rides with a shorter Free Group Ride or ride of your own on Sunday. Combining weekly CTS rides with other rides will help ensure you are building up your stamina for longer events such as STP and will ensure that you have a more enjoyable series overall.

Check the Cascade Free Group Rides calendar for riding opportunities during the week. Another great way to get more miles in is to commute to work on your bike. 

Look for plenty of resources during the month of May—“Bike Everywhere Month.” 


Steady rain normally cancels the ride. Because your safety is our first priority, the ride director may also cancel the ride if standing water makes the route too dangerous, or if the combination of rain, wind and/or temperature is too dangerous.

Cancellations are posted within the comments section at the bottom of the ride at least two hours before the ride is scheduled to start. An email will automatically be sent to your inbox with news of any cancellation. Check for updates before leaving home.

If a ride is canceled, there will be no make-up ride, and the following ride in the series will be more difficult if you can’t to do a make up ride on your own or with a Free Group Ride. 



Please be ready to ride at least 20 minutes before the start time. We recommend you arrive 35 minutes prior so you have plenty of time to prepare your bike, check in, join your pace group and get ready to ride. This is a great time to get any last-minute questions answered. Ride Leaders are there to help, so don’t hesitate to ask.

You must wear your CTS Road ID bracelet (This will be handed out to you at your orientation meeting in March or on the first day of CTS). This verifies that you are a registered CTS rider. It also has your emergency contact information, which is essential in case of an accident. If you do not have your Road ID, you will need to sign a waiver and provide your emergency contact information. Only registered riders are allowed on CTS rides.

We use colored ribbon matching your pace group to help us identify the CTS riders on the road. Please pick up and attach the appropriate color tape/ribbon for your pace group to the TOP of your helmet. Ride Leaders wear the appropriate color ribbon for the pace and a white ribbon (as well as their Ride Leader jerseys) to identify them as Ride Leaders.



There are four pace groups, based on pace on the flats without wind:

  1. Red at 10 -12 mph (leisurely pace)
  2. Yellow at 12 -14 mph (steady pace)
  3. Green at 14 -16 mph (moderate pace)
  4. Blue at 16 -18 mph (brisk pace)

Each pace group will be divided into sub-groups of approximately 20 riders and given a name (e.g. "Yellow 1"). Each sub-group will have a Ride Leader, a Ride Sweep, and (typically) a Floating Leader as well.

The Ride Sweep of the last sub-group will stop and check that riders with physical or mechanical problems have a cue sheet and a way to get back to the start line or to their home. The Ride Sweep will not perform mechanical repairs, so please make sure you have:

  • appropriate tools,
  • a cue sheet  
  • a phone if you need to contact someone for a ride home.

While all sub-groups are riding in the pace range (eg 12 - 14mph) we encourage the stronger climbers to go to a higher pace group.  Strong climbers will likely ride more consistently in the pace range and be quicker overall. If you are a strong hill climber you should move to the first group, slow hill climbers should go to the back of the sub groups. For example strong hill climbers should start in Yellow 1, medium hill climbers should start in Yellow 4 and slower hill climbers in Yellow 8.

To find the right pace group for you, we recommend starting the first ride with the fastest hill climbing pace you believe you can comfortably maintain throughout the ride. Once the ride starts, you can easily fall back to a slower pace, but catching a faster pace group can be tough. Once you have decided on your "pace" group, then you need to identify your sub group in that pace.  

Once you have a pace sub-group assignment that works for you and feels comfortable with your pace and hill climbing, we encourage you to stay with that group for the remainder of the series. Riding with a consistent group of riders and leaders throughout the series greatly enhances your training experience. As you get to know your fellow riders over the course, you’ll find the hard parts get easier and the fun parts become even more enjoyable. 

If you find that you are getting stronger/faster you are welcome to move to another group that works better for your riding ability.

Dividing the pace groups into sub-groups is a safety measure, allowing vehicles to pass as needed. At times the Ride Leader may further divide the sub-group into sets of ten or less riders for the same purpose. Please stay in these smaller groups until the Ride Leader determines it is safe to reform.

You can expect the dynamics of the group to evolve as the rides progress. Some riders will move up or back a pace as the season progresses but in most cases, your group will progress at a similar rate so you should be riding with the same riders for the series. 

If you cannot sustain the slowest pace, 10-12 mph on the flats, you may need to return to the start using your cue sheet and map. If you find yourself at the back of the group, try moving toward the front as the pace at the back of the group is frequently higher as the group expands and contracts. 


The Ride Leader and RL team members are in charge of the group while on the ride. Please follow their directions and recognize that their responsibility is to the group as a whole.

Your pace group leader needs an unobstructed view of the road/trail ahead, so we ask that you avoid riding in front of the leader unless the Ride Leader suggests you move to the front.

These are "stay together" rides, meaning that the leader will stop if the overall group is split by a traffic light or stop sign, and will re-group at the top of hills. DO NOT RUN LIGHTS OR STOP SIGNS!! If the sub-group is split by a light and the route is uncertain, the Ride Sweep may come forward and lead until the sub-group is rejoined.

You are expected to have the tools and skills necessary to fix any mechanical issues you encounter, including flats, or call for a ride home. Don't worry if you lack these skills to begin with. There will be a "fix a flat" hands on demonstration on the first day that will help you gain an understanding of the basics. 

For the benefit of the group, Ride Leaders cannot stay back with an individual rider (unless there is a medical emergency situation) but must instead continue with the group. This means you should always be ready to navigate the course independently (i.e. bring a cue sheet) or know your way back. If you are unfamiliar with the area or route, we suggest that you wait where you are for the next sub-group to come by and tag onto them. If you are riding in the very last sub-group, it’s important that you communicate with the Ride Leader before they leave you to confirm you know the route or how to get back.

The rides will have regular restroom stops and rides over 50 miles will include a "grocery store" stop. Riders not yet comfortable eating on the bike can take this opportunity to eat their food. Please bring along plenty of easy-to-carry foods, such as fruit bars, energy bars and bananas. This is important as you need to be careful you don't bonk on the ride.

When you arrive at a rest stop, be sure to use the restrooms immediately. This allows your sub-group to leave on time and make the rest stop available for the following sub-group. While at the stop, please remain with your group so your Ride Leader can provide instructions and determine when the group is ready to leave. There will likely be a group at the rest stop when you arrive as well as arriving before you depart so it can get confusing if you do not stay with your group.

All routes and cue sheets are available at ridewithgps.com. Routes can be downloaded to Garmin devices, or you can find an app for your phone. Even if you have a GPS device, please make a copy of the cue sheet at home to bring it with you on the ride. Don’t get stranded by dead electronics 50 miles from home!



Safety on the ride is paramount. There will be a safety briefing before each ride with specific reminders about the route; please pay attention during the briefing. If you notice unsafe actions by another rider, please bring it to the attention of one of the Ride Leaders. The leaders will help riders improve their technique to be safer riders as needed. In the very unlikely event that a rider continues to pose a safety hazard, we will ask that rider to leave the ride.

  • While riding on a CTS ride or any Cascade ride or event, do not use headsets for music or phone. If it is necessary to use your phone, pull completely off the road and stop. This Cascade policy is important to ensure the safety of all riders in the group.

  • “Group-up” at red lights to go through intersections together, then immediately resume single-file. We ask that you refrain from calling out "clear" for riders behind you because traffic conditions can change quickly. If you call out "clear" and the rider behind you is involved in an accident, you may be liable.

Riding on trails

  • Always ride single file on trails.
  • Always obey posted speed limits on trails, even if you are riding faster to rejoin the group.

Riding on roads

  • Ride single-file unless it is a very low volume road.
  • On narrow roads, your leader may move out from the road edge to pick a safer position in the middle of the lane. Follow their lead when this happens.
  • On some four-lane roads your leader may choose to ride a double column (two lines with spacing between riders).

Ride SMART for Safety

Cascade rides are always SMART rides.  Please follow these guidelines when riding with Cascade.

S - Stay Alert. Momentary inattention is the number one cause of incidents. Watch for vehicles, bicyclists, pedestrians and hazards. Do not wear earbuds or use phones while riding. Listen for and call out potential road and traffic hazards. "Glass," "Gravel," "Tracks," "Car Up," "Car Right/Left," "Car Back," "Walker Up," "Stopping," "Slowing," etc. Your leader will likely point out or call out these hazards on the route; be sure to pass these signals back or forward to your fellow riders.

M - Maintain Space. Leave enough room in front of you to avoid other riders, vehicles and hazards. Ride outside the door zone, and move off the road or trail when stopping.

A - Act Safely and Predictably. Wear a properly fitted helmet. Make sure you can see and be seen. Ride a straight line and only pass on the left. Be courteous. 

R - Respect the Rules of the Road. Obey all traffic laws; stop for all red lights and stop signs. Signal turns whenever safe, ride no more than two abreast (single file is safer) and yield right-of-way when appropriate.

T - Think Ahead and Talk. Scan ahead and anticipate what others will do. Communicate actions and hazards, tell others when passing and cross railroad tracks at a right angle when possible.



If you have questions, concerns or feedback about any aspect of the rides, please email the Ride Director for the respective ride, or send an email to the Rides Program Manager, Davíd Urbina at DavidU@cascade.org.