Group Riding Skills
There's nothing like riding together in a with a group of friends. But riding in a group is different than riding solo and there are special skills that will contribute to the safe and efficient operation of the group. Below are a few diagrams that illustrate some of these skills followed by some general group riding tips, and commonly used hand signals.
There are three basic ride formations: Staggered, parade and single file. Staggered formation is the way the club will ride most frequently. Approximately 2 seconds traveling distance will be kept between you and the rider directly in front of you, and approximately one second between you and the rider in the lane to the left or right. Tight ride formations like this offer minimal view of the road ahead. Consequently, it is necessary to signal intentions and road hazards to warn those rearward early enough to take action.
Maintain this spacing unless special conditions occur such as narrow roadways, enter and exit ramps, tolls, etc.
If spacing becomes excessive, correct it by slowly closing the gap. This reduces the accordion effect that makes group riding difficult or dangerous. Intersections, especially stoplight and stop sign controlled, make it necessary to close up the gap between riders. This aids in getting the group through intact. Never let the group integrity supersede safety. Should the group become separated the Road Captain will regroup.
Group passing will always be kept to a minimum, as it can be difficult at best. This is accomplished one of two ways. When CB radios are not being used, the rear road captain would move left and reserve the lane. Then as traffic clears, each rider will check for a clear lane and move left starting from the rider just forward of the sweep or rear road captain and proceeding in succession from back to front. When returning to the original lane the maneuver will again begin from the rear road captain with each rider checking before moving over.
When CB radios are being used to control the ride at the front and rear, the lead rider calls for the lane switch, the sweep moves left or right as called for as soon as possible, then acknowledges acquisition of the lane to the lead rider. When the lane is clear of vehicles the group changes lanes but from the front to the back on the rear riders signal. When returning to the original lane, the maneuver will begin with the front road captain (lead) and each rider will move over after checking the lane.
IMPORTANT: Always remember each rider must check for a clear lane individually.
PASSING (TWO LANE)
Passing as a group on a two lane road is too dangerous to consider. Instead the group must pass individually. This is only done if the vehicle ahead is moving very slowly. Everyone is responsible for their own pass and no two or more pass together unless they are absolutely sure it's safe.
Be sure to continue to pull ahead of the vehicle passed so there is adequate room for the balance of the group to fit in ahead of the passed car and behind the group
Stopping as a group at an intersection, the group automatically leaves the staggered formation in favor of a parade formation. This is double file, one along side of the other. Bikes should be kept in first gear and riders remain alert and ready to move in order to get as many bikes through the intersection as possible in one light change.
A tighter than normal stagger or tight single file is used through the intersection. Extreme caution should always be used in these areas, as they are the most dangerous areas we ride through.
Always yield to the stoplight, cross traffic and stop signs and let the group integrity be broken. Plans and procedures are in place to regroup. No one will ever criticize you for letting the law or safety take precedence.
Clearing the club from the roadway quickly is of great importance; therefore, an orderly method of parking must be adopted. Always consider the position or possible danger the last few riders may be left in and do all you can to expedite getting them out of traffic and harms way.
As seen in the picture to the right: When at a curb the most efficient way is to pull ahead of the place you intend parking in, then back into the spot. The next rider can begin pulling ahead while you are finishing backing up. Be careful and leave enough room around each bike to access the saddlebags and enough so that any rider could easily pull out without hitting another bike.
In very busy traffic or narrow roadway rearward riders should consider circling the block while others park.
General Riding Tips
Have a full tank before arriving at the departure point.
Tell the group leader if you have any special concerns, i.e. speed, sharp corners, etc.
Tell the group leader if you plan to leave the group before the destination. Also tell the persons riding in front and behind you so they don't think you are having a problem.
When a rider leaves the group while in staggered formation, the best way to compensate for the hole made by his absence is for each rider behind the missing bike to change lanes. Doing this eliminates passing in a single lane.
Tell the group leader if your bike has an unusually short fuel range or if your bladder has a short range.
It is not unusual to start out on a ride when it is fairly warm and have the temp cool down a lot before getting home. Riders often wear a light jacket because it felt fine at the time of departure and really be freezing after it got dark. This frequently happens on dinner rides.
Remember to take some clear eye protection if the ride will extend into the evening.
When exiting a expressway, keep up the pace so the riders behind you aren't forced to slow down while still on the expressway and become a traffic hazard.
Be sure to have proper and current documentation: driver's license, bike registration, and insurance card.
During the summer months, consider carrying sunburn block lotion.
Occasionally the road captain has to pull the group to the shoulder to wait for a portion of the group to rejoin. When this occurs, be sure to pull as far right as safely possible so the road captain is able to look back to watch for the approaching group.