As we head into warmer months, many motorcyclists in California will head out onto the road in groups for joyrides. Joyrides are always fun, with or without company, but being in a group is a different experience and different vibe! However, riding in a group also poses certain additional risks. With the proper planning and safety awareness, group rides will usually go smoothly.
Group riding can be a lot of fun, especially when doing so with your close friends. The sound of five or six motorcycle engines running in sync is a beautiful sound. Rolling through the highway with your group in formation is also pretty fun— you just know you look cool. For group riding to be fun, though, it needs to be planned well. Riders should also be fairly experienced, as group riding is not the same as riding alone.
When riding alone, you only really have to worry about yourself. You control your own route, can take any turn or exit you want, and you only need to watch your position compared to other vehicles. However, in a group, you must stick to the planned route and the formation of your group. A wrong or unexpected move from you can affect the other riders you are with.
What Sort Of Planning Is Required?
Preparing to ride in a group requires prior planning. The group needs to decide on their route and formation. With these in place, straying from the group mid-ride is usually not a great option. If it isn’t because of an emergency, then don’t leave the group. If the route or formation does not work for you, wait for the next group ride instead.
Formation planning is also very important, as positions in the group are very important. The person leading the ride at the front is the lead rider. Directly behind them, as the second rider, is usually where the most inexperienced rider will be. The rider at the very back of the group is the tail rider. The lead rider and tail rider are usually the most experienced riders of the group. Each person should know their position in the formation so that everything goes smoothly.
Potential Dangers of Group Riding
As with any type of motorcycle riding, group riding can pose many risks, and having awareness of these risk will help you avoid them. Things to avoid that will cause unnecessary danger include:
- Separating from the rest of the group
- Spreading widely across the road
- Not having a route planned ahead of time
- Some members do not know which route will be traveled
- Group members do not know the hand signals
- Experienced riders do not take the less experienced riders into consideration
- Having too many people in a given group (more than 7)
How Can I Safely Plan a Group Ride?
Whether you are planning your first group ride or your hundredth, the basic rules of planning are the same. Some tips you can follow to safely plan a group ride include:
- Have a meeting before you head out for your ride
- Plan the route you will be riding
- Select a lead rider and a tail rider
- Plan the formation you will be riding in
- Make a list of group members who will be riding
- Check that everyone is familiar with any hand signals your group may be using
- Wear your gear!
- Be prepared for gas stops
- Have a backup plan in case of an emergency or an accident
Having a backup plan is very important because accidents and unexpected things can happen on the road at any time. If someone gets separated from the rest of the group while passing a truck, having a backup plan helps that person avoid going into panic mode. If a group member has to break apart from the group mid-ride, what formation does the group continue in? These things must be decided ahead of time.
If your group is aware of the potential dangers and follows the recommended safety tips, then your group ride will run smoothly and be a lot of fun! Happy riding!