Enjoying a Group Ride
And how to plan for one!
By: Debbi Serafinchon
Sharing a passion with others is a great way to bond and grow friendships, and group riding can be an excellent way to do that. The social aspect of riding is what attracts people to own a motorcycle but there are a few things you should keep in mind before you agree to that group ride you’ve seen posted.
A few of the concerns that many riders have are the variety of skills you’ll find in a group ride, the general chaos of having that many people together, and the lack of understanding the group rules. Here are some tips to keep everyone safe and enjoying the travel together.
I have stood in full gear in the beating sun and watched folks roll there eyes as the leader of the group called everyone over for a quick meeting before heading out on the road with other motorcyclists. These pre-ride meetings are one of the most important things to do BEFORE heading out. This is when the route is explained, where a stop is planned, and an opportunity to go over hand signals will take place. Whether you’ve group ridden before or not, this is the time to ensure everyone in the group understands the expectations of this particular ride. Ask questions if you have them. Listen and be prepared before revving your engine.
Decide Rider Order
Often times there will be a lead rider already chosen. The lead rider will be experienced and in charge in route, any detours, and setting the pace for the group. There should also be a tail rider. This person rides at the very back of the group and should be as experienced as the lead. The tail rider will keep an eye on the group and ensure everyone is ok and being safe.
All other riders in the group have a responsibility as well. Novices riders should be kept close to the front and experienced riders at the back.
This motto is not only for the Boy Scouts. Each rider should be responsible for individual things like water and a cell phone in case of emergencies. Some extra cash and a few tools for your bike are also helpful. Some other things that at least one or more riders should have on a group ride include extra tools, a flashlight, duct tape, and a first aid kit.
Staying in proper formation gives each rider enough space to act accordingly to sudden hazards and helps over drivers on the road avoid you. The best way to ride in a group is to stagger each rider. The lead rider should always ride on the left side of a single lane roadway (dominant position in a double lane roadway) and the second rider on the right side of the road, about 1 second behind. After that, the riders follow suit; the 3rd rider on the left, 4th on the right and so on.
If there is a hazard on the side of the road, the lead can signal for the formation to form a single line and once that hazard is passed, the lead will indicate for the group to return to a staggered formation.
Bring your Manners
Group riding manners have less to do with please and thank you (but you should bring those as well) and more to do with how you ride. A group ride is no place for showing off and going rogue. You will want to avoid passing other riders (regardless of how slow they are riding) and if the rider in front of you has waved you back, respect their judgment and give them a little more space. You’ll impress the hottie in the group by following the rules set out by the lead rather than acting the renegade.
Listen to other riders in the group that are willing to give pointers or feedback to you. I have learned more about my riding from group rides than on my own. Others can see how you’re riding and if you’re lucky enough to be in a group that is patient, the experienced riders will offer their advice to make you a better rider.
A group ride is one of the best ways to enjoy a summer evening on the open road or a Saturday enjoying the sunshine on your bike. Keep the above tips in mind when riding in a group and it will be an activity that you’ll look forward to.