GROUP RIDING

Lets talk about
riding in a group. Over the years I have heard bikers say that being in a group is safer than riding alone. Having riden with groups for over 20 years I know this isn't true. It can be very stressful and limit how I react to the environment around me. Every week I see groups of riders making their ride far more dangerous than it needs to be. I have also been in groups where they learned the hard way what rules to follow when together and now have a much better experience because they follow some basic guidelines.

One problem with large groups riding together is how they block cars from moving from lane to lane. Lets say 20 bikes are riding together and mixed in that group are a few fairly new riders. The experienced riders are moving down the road at a comfortable pace but the new riders are not comfortable going at that speed. As they fall behind a noticable gap opens in front of them allowing cars to slip in. I have seen this many times and can imagine how frustrating it can be to the new rider. If that car stays in that spot the the group following it now has to force their way in front of the car to get their formation back together and that can take a lot of time and distance. 

Try dividing your group into smaller ones of five bikes. A local motorcycle dealership did this for many years with great results. They had every rider attend a briefing before the ride started. Group leaders would position their bikes so 3 or 4 others could line up behind them. Each leader would let everyone know what pace
they would ride at so any new riders could stay together and not be pressured to go over their experience level. Faster riders would get together and take off in their groups of five with plenty of time between them. Everyone, no matter what pace their group rode at could enjoy the same roads, stop at the same gas stations and eat at the same place. They were all still together.

Another great reason to ride in small groups is so all 5 bikes have a much better chance of getting through a green light before it changes. If someone in your giant group stops in an intersection and blocks cars so all the others can get through then you are riding with fools. This sounds crazy but I have seen it many times over the years.

Ride in a staggerd formation with the lead bike to the left of the lane. The second bike is one second behind so the bike directly following the lead is at a two second distance. This allows the 5 bikes to stay compact and not invite cars to cut in. When the lead is ready for a lane change they signal then everyone in the group signals. Now it is up to the last bike to decide when best to make the lane change so a car doesn't get caught in with the bikes. Look in the back of your MSF workbook you had in class for related information.

If the lead sees a hazard in the road they should point at it with their leg. Just hold out your leg and let everyone behind go around the problem while also communicating to those behind. No slowing is needed for this.

When the group gets in to sweeping, twisty roads then go single file with about four seconds between bikes allowing everyone space to adjust speed and lane position as they set up for the turns. The lead should also stop or slow now and then so make sure someone didn't get lost or crash. This is important while at intersections.

You are the only person liable for your actions. Don't run a red light just because the bikes in front went through a yellow. You get no special privileges because there are a bunch of you together. I have left a group ride many times and just met everyone later at the final destination. This also applies if the leader is going too fast for your comfort. Groups have no right to stop other traffic just so they can leave a gas station or their original meeting place.

Trikes should stay in their own groups or at the back of a two-wheeled group. Never have a bike in front of you that can stop quicker than yours. I lost a friend because a trike ran inside a turn and kicked dirt on the road. He hit that mess and high-sided.