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QUICK TIPS: MSFís Guide to Group Riding
Motorcycling is primarily a solo activity, but for many, riding as a group -- whether with friends on a Sunday morning ride or with an organized motorcycle rally -- is the epitome of the motorcycling experience. Here are some tips to help ensure a fun and safe group ride:
Arrive prepared. Arrive on time with a full gas tank.
Hold a ridersí meeting. Discuss things like the route, rest and fuel stops, and hand signals (see diagrams on next page). Assign a Lead and Drag/Sweep Road Captains. Both should be experienced riders who are well-versed in group riding procedures. The leader should assess everyoneís riding skills and the groupís riding style.
Keep the group to a manageable size, ideally five to seven riders. If necessary, break the group into smaller sub-groups, each with a lead and Drag/Sweep Rider.
Ride prepared. At least one rider in each group should pack a cell phone, first-aid kit, and full tool kit, so the group is prepared for any problem that they might encounter.
Ride in formation. The staggered riding formation (see diagram below) allows a proper space cushion between motorcycles so that each rider has enough time and space to maneuver and to react to hazards. The leader rides in the left third of the lane, while the next rider stays at least one second behind in the right third of the lane; the rest of the group follows the same pattern. A single-file formation is preferred on a curvy road, under conditions of poor visibility or poor road surfaces, entering/leaving highways, or other situations where an increased space cushion or maneuvering room is needed.
Avoid side-by-side formations, as they reduce the space cushion. If you suddenly needed to swerve to avoid a hazard, you would not have room to do so. You donít want handlebars to get entangled.
Periodically check the riders following in your rear view mirror. If you see a rider falling behind, slow down so they may catch up. If all the riders in the group use this technique, the group should be able to maintain a fairly steady speed without pressure to ride too fast to catch up.
If youíre separated from the group, donít panic. Your group should have a pre-planned procedure in place to regroup. Donít break the law or ride beyond your skills to catch up.
For mechanical or medical problems, use a cell phone to call for assistance as the situation warrants.
RULES OF THE ROAD FOR A SAFE RIDE
RULES MAY BE MODIFIED TO MEET CONDITIONS AND CIRCUMSTANCES. IN ALL CASES, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY. THOSE WHO DO NOT PRACTICE SAFE RIDING WILL BE ASKED TO LEAVE THE RIDE BY A PRIMARY OFFICER, SPONSORING DEALER OR ROAD CAPTAIN.
Whenever possible there will be at least two (2) Road Captains on the ride: a Lead Road Captain, and a Drag/Sweep Road Captain. The Lead Road Captain will ride in the left side of the lane in front of the group. Please obey the Road Captains if they ask you to move to a different spot.
ON THE ROAD:
Staggered Formation (Indicated by hand over head with two fingers raised)
Keep a two (2) second interval from the bike in front of you in the same lane and avoid riding in anyone's blind spot, especially cars.
If a Road Captain drops out of line, for any reason, leave his/her space open so he/she can return to the same position in line.
If someone breaks down or drops out of line, do not stop on the highway. Obey the Lead Road Captain who will pull off at the next exit or safe spot and wait for the Drag/Sweep Road Captain to return to the group before going any further.
If there is a space in the line because of someone permanently dropping out of the group, the rider diagonally behind and closest to the empty space will initiate the filling of the space. The rider will look to see that it is clear for him to change tracks, signal that he is doing so, and move over and into the empty slot. The rest of the group will do the same, one at a time, until all the gaps are filled. For example, if a space in the right hand track becomes vacant, the rider diagonally to the rear of the space and in the left hand track will visually check that it is clear for him to change tracks, signal that he is going to do so, and move right and into the empty space.
(Group Riding Of Any Size) Change lanes only during staggered formation. When changing lanes, the Lead Road Captain will signal that he/she is going to change lanes; everyone should then also signal. The Drag/Sweep Road Captain will secure the lane. Once the lane is secured: The group will move as a group. (DONíT JUMP EARLY) Being Passed Or Cut Into (Be especially careful when approaching highway Exit ramps) Don't challenge cars! When cars try to pass, or ďcut inĒ our line of bikes, leave a gap for them to pull into your lane without cutting you off. Remember... they are BIGGER than you. Narrow Two Lane Roads and Toll Booths Single File Formation (Indicated by raising hand over head with index finger raised) Ride in single file, one behind the other.
OTHER SIGNALS AND RULES:
Point hand or foot down....warns other riders of road hazards or slippery conditions.
Palm up, waving hand up and down...increase speed (go faster).
Palm down, waving hand up and down...decrease speed (go slower).
Headlight on at all times makes you easier to see, and in most states it's the law.
Riders new to the CHAPTER will be asked to ride directly behind the Lead Road Captain.
IF EVERYONE FOLLOWS THESE RULES WE WILL HAVE A SAFE RIDE