A recent thread from across the pond got me to thinking about group rides, and as we are soon going to have a few of them , some maybe somewhat large ourselves in Calhoun, I though I would say a few things. Please keep things civil, try not to let this go the way the helmet threads do
I have been in many large group rides. I do like to ride in a group, have a lot of experience at it, and it does take a certain amount of skill, but mainly it is just all common sense. I have never seen anything difficult or unsafe about it, if you simply have the experienced riders take care of those who are not.
Most of the large rides conducted in conjunction with the advantage of a police escort do sometimes pose a danger to a group. Normally help is scarce and two to four motorcycle officers and maybe a car or two will be assigned to a large pre-organized ride. Yes they will block off an intersection and allow the group to pass and then rip up the road, roaring down the open lane and moving in to the open stagger space in the group, allowing oncoming traffic to pass, moving back out and on up to the next intersection or side road. Sooner or later with this tactic, yes it does go wrong. Always, maybe not this time, but maybe next time. Someone always zigs when they should have zagged.
For the most part to copy this tactic and for groups to set up blockers , is illegal , private citizens cannot legally block traffic. It seems also that the ones least safety aware and the ones who are hotdogs always volunteeer, or obtain the positions of blockers. They throw caution to the wind and let her rip. I admit it is fun, but it is a formula for disaster.
I recently quit riding with a group who would do this . I felt it a very unsafe practice and in one instance saw one of the blockers drop his bike at an intersection, and just a few minutes later another clipped a bike in the formation. There was no talking to this bunch, so I just quit riding with them.
If we in our present group are not going to split the large group up into small groups(which is now very rare) we put some experienced riders at the front and if we do choose to take the risk and block traffic, the front two behind the leader simply move ahead and block the intersection, then fall in at the rear of the group and one assumes the role of tailgunner. And so on always the front two bikes take the next duty. Then fall in behind.
Group rides can be a lot of fun, it just seems it takes a lot of training and repetition to become adept at it.
The tailgunner is the most important person on a ride. He keeps you safe. He is talking to the leader all the time , letting him know things such as we have five bikes stopped at a light....please slow down up there, give us time to get back up with you.
He is watching the traffic, cars moving in and out of the group in traffic, and if the need to switch lanes is required to move around a truck or something, he will move over first and talk the leader into postion behind a forward traveling vehicle. With time a group that rides together a lot , becomes almost a military precision ride.
This does not work well with riding with those you have never ridden with before, even experienced riders are not famililar with each other, every one will react in any situation differently....
So I would like to ask all of you when we get to Calhoun, to listen to Flyone and take it serious when he gives a safety briefing for the rides. We are there to have fun, to just take things easy. If you feel unsure about something or uncomfortable, come talk to us, we will adjust. We are not going to bite your head off or take offense, that attitude is for idiots. Do not take chances.....stop and look. If you come up to an intersectoin and the light is turning yellow, hey stop. I will take care of you, I will slow the leader down, there is no hurry. If we get lost and the group has to make a U-turn and we will
take your time, do it as you are comfortable with, no need to push it, we will wait on you.
Just wanted to bring your awareness levels up a bit. To just say to stop and take things easy, to pay attention, it would be a good thing if we can pull this off and not have any incidents.