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New and Improved Group Riding Tips

    • 220 posts
    May 12, 2016 4:31 PM EDT
    It's that time of year again. I have gone back over last year's Rules & Tips, added and subtracted, made it an easier 'read' and cleared out the chaff.
    Please read, comment and let me know what you think.

    #1. COMMUNICATION IS MOST IMPORTANT!
    Don't know? ASK! Anything that you don't know, ask! Find one of the Organizers/Ride Officers and ASK THEM! If they are too busy (and they usually are) ask people standing around. It's a great way to ease your anxiety levels.

    Group Riding Tips

    1. Most groups ride staggered: first bike (lead) is usually in the left third of the lane, the second rider is behind in the right third, third rider in left, etc. (When riding in countries that drive on the left, it’s opposite.) Trikes and sidecars should ride in the center of the lane. The bike next to you should be spaced one second in front or behind, 2 seconds between you and the bike in the lane in front of you. NEVER ride up on another bikes back tire. A good rule of thumb is…you should be able to see the face of the rider in front of you in their mirror.
    2. Changing Lanes. The leader will give a hand signal to change lanes. Tail-gunner or sweep must secure the lane from the back to hold any traffic from passing while the pack changes lanes. The group can safely change lanes once he has secured the back. When you change lanes, go to the far side of the lane so someone else can also change lanes. Example: If you are on the left side of the right lane, when you move to the left lane, go all the way over to the left side of the lane, right side rider will be in right side of new lane.
    3. Intersections are the most dangerous spot for accidents. Two-way stops, four-ways stops and yields do not mean that the entire group goes through at once (unless you are on a police escorted ride). Each bike should move through an intersection as a single vehicle (or pairs) when it is safe to do so. Do not panic, the integrity of the group will not be lost; you can regain formation down the road, as the leader will find a safe spot to pull over or slow down enough to regroup.
    3b. When riding with a Police Escort, always use caution when entering an intersection. Police will ‘block’ the intersection and allow the group to ride as a unit, but people have died when a car ignores (or doesn’t see) the officer. Always follow all signals from the Escort and stay alert for sudden stops.
    4. When coming to a curve on a regular road stay in the formation line up. Increase separation and once out of the curve, move back into comfortable separation. At a turn, if the entire group cannot make a turn (group gets split up), the last bike that makes the turn should wait at the turn so the rest of the group will know where to turn. (aka leaving bread crumbs)
    5. Learn the hand signals. The basic ones used are:

    A. Hand tapping top of helmet: There's a cop.
    B. Pointing frantically to the ground with hand or foot: There's something in the road on that side.
    C. Left arm extended and bent upward 90 degrees with closed fist: We are about to make a final turn in and stop
    D. Left Arm extended and bent upward 90 degrees with open hand: Right turn.
    E. Left arm straight out: Left turn
    F. Left arm extended out 45* downward and slightly waving up and down with open hand: slow down or possible stop.
    G. Someone flashing all five fingers of one hand at you: you forgot to turn off your blinker.
    H. Pointing to the gas tank: I need gas.
    I. Pointing to your stomach: I need food.
    J. Pointing to your crotch: I need a bathroom break.

    6. When you're on a twisty road with a group, ride single file and increase following distance. DO NOT ride above your skill level. The leader should always allow the riders to regroup after a series of curves by slowing until the ‘sweep’ riders rejoin with any slower riders. Take it easy, we will wait for you.
    7. Don't go flying by someone at high speed in the same lane unless you know them and they have told you that it is ok. Please go by in a different lane.
    8. If you want to stunt, go out front and try to pick one or two lanes to stunt in. Most experienced stunt riders know this; this is for the inexperienced. It is much better to get in front before you do a wheelie, endo, etc. Riding up through a pack on your rear wheel is not the safest thing in the world.
    9. When you first ride with a large group or an unfamiliar group, I suggest you stay in back and on whatever side that has an escape route. You need to be thinking about what you will do if someone in front of you goes down. It does happen!
    10. When it comes time for you to decelerate, if you don't brake and just let off the throttle, make sure that you tap your brake a couple of times so that the bikes behind you will know you’re slowing down.
    11. Wear as much protective gear as you can.
    12. Make sure your bike is registered and you have a valid license, etc.
    13. Be gassed up when we meet. Make sure your tire pressure, oil, chains, belts, etc. are in good order before you go on a ride.
    14. Have emergency cards with all of your information and emergency contact info on you. At least have an emergency number stored in your cell phone. Using ICE (In Case of Emergency) is an excellent idea; anyone will know who to call if need be and not call everyone listed on your phone. Using ICE will put emergency numbers first on your phone list.
    15. If you’re leaving the group before the end, make sure to tell someone (preferably sweep and leader) or we WILL come looking for you! ‘Leave None Behind’.
    16. When following, do not focus on the person in front of you. Keep your focus shifting, look where you want to go and stay aware. (I.e. Don't Target Fixate!)

    I hope this helps. May all your rides be fun, filled with friends and family. Never forget why we do this. For the pure joy and love of riding!
    • 18 posts
    May 12, 2016 6:07 PM EDT
    Solid.