The feeling of freedom and exhilaration is what motorcyclists crave for. When riding in a group, motorcycling can be a very thrilling experience. You get to ride with all your friends and continue to have fun all the way! Group riding is gratifying but does come with a set of challenges. However, the key to an enjoyable and safe ride as a group is ‘organization’ as dangers tend to arise if everyone isn’t on the same page. The group leader needs to be extensively experienced with group riding and should be the one to call the shots.
Usually, not everyone in the group has the same level of motorcycle riding experience. So the riding formation matters. Also, communication makes a difference – the group needs to be aware of the entire schedule. Knowing the deal and ‘always’ being on the same page will allow the riders to have a great group riding experience.
In a motorcycle group riding there are a mix of riders having different skill sets and there is a higher level of unpredictability. Hence organization, communication, and planning help in having a fun road trip when traveling in a group. There are risks involved in both cases – whether its a solo trip or you are traveling with a group. However, you need to keep a few things in mind to ride skillfully in a group and these guidelines can enhance the camaraderie.
#Pre-meeting is important
There is so much to be taken into account before you guys hop on your bikes and thunder away. You need to know which route to take before hand so that there are no delays or confusions. Depending on the distance you are traveling you will need to plan the breaks (food, fuel, nature’s call)– this needs to be in accordance with what the fellow riders want. As a group you need to be prepared with certain predictable mishaps such as one rider getting separated from the group or say one rider’s motorcycle breaks down. Whether it’s a small group or a larger one – the synchronization codes are significant to avoid any kind of catastrophe.
# The fundamentals
The basic prelim checks including a thorough inspection is very critical for each and every group rider. Of course, the inspection should be done before any road trip – be it a solo or a group one. Every bike needs to be checked for oil leaks from the engine, tyre for the puncture and to set the right pressure, electrical system is functioning well etc. Checking these off will ensure there are no interruptions or misunderstandings when riding in a group. It’s always more electrifying when you are off to a good start!
# The rider’s sequence
As mentioned earlier, the group leader should be the one who is extensively experienced in motorcycle group riding. Having the most experienced rider in the front calling the shots is a great way to keep the organization going. If it’s a larger group, having the least experienced bikers in the middle followed by another set of experienced riders is a perfect formation to ensure that everyone is riding together. If you keep the least experienced riders at the end of the formation then they would try to keep up with the ones riding faster and this is how calamities strike! To be at the same pace and in full control of the group activity it is vital to follow the mentioned sequence.
# Emergency exits
15 bikers. 1 emergency kit – Nada! This is a surefire call for disaster. Just because you are in a herd doesn’t mean you are completely dependent on another for your safety. When disaster strikes – chances are that since you are in a group you will find support. The key to self-protection and a safer ride is each biker carrying an emergency kit rather than finding oneself separated from the group and with a motorcycle that doesn’t start. This even applies to other belongings such as a charged cell phone, tools for bikes, duct tape, flashlight, energy bar, water, first aid kit and of course some cash of your own. You do trust the comrades around you but you need to be prepared for the worst. Self-sufficiency does pay off!
# Use your hands
Communication is key even while traveling. However, verbal communication isn’t an option unless you are one of those who talk to the wind. But this wouldn’t really serve the purpose and I realise that I am just rambling on. So getting to the point – If you are a group leader or riding in the front learn the ‘right’ hand signals to communicate during the ride. These hand signals are quite helpful if you want to take a break or warn your fellow riders of a road hazard or even if you want to stop for fuel. There are very simple hand signals for the most basic yet critical subjects that you in all probabilities might need to use during the group ride.
# Awareness over fixation
Do you all remember the basic motorcycle training you received? What was the most fundamental lesson that was taught before anything else? ‘Look where you want to go and be aware/alert.’ Do not be obsessed or preoccupied with any vehicle or rider in front of you. Quite often in motorcycle group riding, bikers tend to lose their focus and get completely dependent on the rider in front of them. This can be hazardous for both riders, especially during turns and hence needs to be avoided. Be aware of your surroundings and where you want to go.
Remember, you got to ride your own ride! Unlike solo trips, group rides do end up taking longer. Also, things don’t always go as planned. You need to be patient and keep your tolerance level a notch higher. It’s important to understand that riding with a group means you need to pay heed to everyone’s requirements. Let this group riding enhance your camaraderie. Go slow when necessary and enjoy the trip!