There are a number of factors that come into play when planning or participating in a group ride. Here are some suggestions for making your rides safe and successful.
Planning the Ride
- It’s always a good idea to prepare a map of the stops indicated. If some bikes become separated from the group, they can “catch up” at the next stop.
- If you’re not out for a scenic ride, plan the most direct route to an event or activity. Interstate highways off the following advantages:
- All traffic is moving in one direction.
- No cross-traffic or traffic lights to split up your group.
- When there are three lanes, it is wise to travel in the middle lane. This allows faster traffic to pass and will also allow vehicles to enter/exit the highway more easily.
- If you’re out for a scenic ride, be sure traffic conditions will allow it. For example, is there a county fair or car show in the area that day to complicate the ride?
- Plan stops to avoid gravel lots and left hand turns. No one likes gravel, and in a group, it’s even less fun. Right-hand turns in and out of stops will help the group stay together.
- Plan gas stops at least every 90 miles, so folks with smaller tanks can fill up and stay with the group.
- If you have a large group stopping at a restaurant, call the restaurant far enough in advance to allow them to prepare for a large group.
- If you expect a particularly large group and it’s possible to get a police escort or traffic control at the start/end of a ride or along the route, great! Otherwise, it is a good idea to at least inform the police department of your plans and perhaps drop off a map. Never block traffic yourself; it may be against the law!
PARTICIPATING IN A RIDE
- Drinking and driving never mix. This is especially true when participating in a group ride.
- Always ride in staggered formation; it gives you extra margin for safety.
- Make sure your vehicle is in good operating condition
- Being too hot or too cold can also affect how alert you are as a driver. Be sure to pack appropriate protective clothing, such as long-sleeve cotton shirt (for protection from the sun), helmet, eye protection, leather jacket, gloves, etc.
- Always ride with your headlight on; it’s a law in most states. Cars have enough trouble “noticing” motorcycles; riders should do everything possible to help them out.
- A group of motorcycles is not considered a single vehicle. Be courteous and allow cars to enter and exit the highway and change lanes. Generally speaking, a car will not want to ride in the middle of a group of motorcycles and will get out of the group as quickly as possible.
- Familiarize yourself with the route and scheduled stops.
- Arrive with a full tank of gas.
- Ride with a partner. In the event someone needs to pull over for an unscheduled stop, the partner should also stop in case assistance is needed.
- It’s unsafe for a large group to stop on the side of the road. If someone needs to pull over, the sweeper will stop to help, the remainder of the group should continue to the next stop. Again, all riders should have a map of the route so they can reach their destination on their own.