Group Rides, They do not have to be Unsafe. - Steve Saunders Goldwing Forums

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post #1 of 49 (permalink) Old 09-07-2008, 07:25 AM Thread Starter
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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.

Respectfully:

Kit



The 1800 is my bike. The very best motorcycle ever made. I was enthralled with my first test ride on this machine. It is a great bike. A crotch rocket with storage bags.............As for oil I use the slick kind, and I like round tires, but as of late I have found square ones work best on the rear. Pirelli Eufori 195/55/16 @ 32 PSI
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post #2 of 49 (permalink) Old 09-07-2008, 07:39 AM
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Perhaps some of the early arrivals can be given the routes, and time to familiarize themselves with them, so that they may become leaders/tails of smaller and more manageable groups riding later in the event?

Smaller groups mean less chances to be broken up, and no need for blockers {legal or otherwise}

JMHO


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post #3 of 49 (permalink) Old 09-07-2008, 07:48 AM
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I think you are right insaying that group riding need not be any moredangerous than riding by yourself. The problem is we all tend to get too close, this is partly to stop other vehicles cutting in. a staggered formation helps this problem though.

we have looked at various techniques, the one you mention with no passing, only works when everyone does it, the guy who panics and thinks that he will be left if he does not go with the pack rather than wait for the other behind quiclkly lets the group ride down and also not everyone can pick a safe place to mark a junction.

the tendancy for a new inexperienced or nervous rider is to ride at the back of the group, these riders should be at the front where the pace is slower.

If you do use marshals to keep the group together and pass all the other bikes, similar to how the police do it, they should be discouraged from gunning it, pass in a safe mannor and if the lead bike runs out of marshals he should pull over and wait for them to catch up. If the lead marshal sees any other marshals doing something he feels unsafe then he should tell the person as constructive criticism.

Inevitably ther will be those who lose concentration for just a few seconds, we have all done it, when riding in group formation we need to concentrate more, watch out for marshals coming up, keep in formation, if a car gets in the middle my advice is dont pass, if you get stuck at lights, dont panic. If the ride out is run properly all bikes will eventually get back together. Its a great feel to be a member of a group of wings, a great site to see but we must all do our bit to keep it safe.

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post #4 of 49 (permalink) Old 09-07-2008, 08:03 AM
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A very good post Kit.

I have not gone over the actual course to the Dragon on my map yet, but from what I read it will be smaller roads with intersections and towns on it.

I agree that the safety briefing will be a very important part of this ride. I also think that those who have not ridden in a large group, "Like myself", should speak up and say so.

Let those who will be in charge of the ride, know that you are inexperienced up front. That way they can place you where they think you should be in the group.

I personally wont worry if I get left behind as long as I know where we are going, where we are going to stop and where home is.

The idea of keeping up with a group that you can't keep up with is less as important as staying safe.

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post #5 of 49 (permalink) Old 09-07-2008, 08:06 AM Thread Starter
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The above post brings out a very good point. Cars will move into the pack and inexperienced riders seem to feel they have to pass. You do not have to. The tail gunner is watching this, and if things get too out of hand and the distance does become too great and sometimes it will, then he will talk to the leader and the leader will find a parking lot or some area easy to pull over and depending on the situations of the moment, do whatever is required to move the group back together, in a safe manner. If a clear shoulder with room is available sometimes they can pull over safely there, sometimes, that is up to his judgement, sometimes sand or gravel or road debris does not allow this, and nails and screws like to lay alongside the road.

There is no need to gun it and pass. It is a team effort, the leader can slow a bit, the car will get aggravated and move on, if not, do not sweat it......just move along at their pace, no need at all to take chances. It will work itself out. We have all day to get there.

Kit

The 1800 is my bike. The very best motorcycle ever made. I was enthralled with my first test ride on this machine. It is a great bike. A crotch rocket with storage bags.............As for oil I use the slick kind, and I like round tires, but as of late I have found square ones work best on the rear. Pirelli Eufori 195/55/16 @ 32 PSI
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post #6 of 49 (permalink) Old 09-07-2008, 08:20 AM
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Well said Kit, the briefing to riders before setting off should set out the rules of the run. I remember once going to Escort a group of about 50 Norwegian Wingers, from the ferry to York, a run of about 70 miles. We had 6 marhals to do this with. Once we got on the duel carriageway, we all got strung out, the norwegian bikes then started to pass all the cars, result, the marshals could not ge tback up to the front for ages. 2 faults here, one the lead bike should have reduced speed in order for the bikes to bunch back together, the second we had not told our visitors what we wanted them to do, on the way back and after that, there was no more problems

Derek and Maggie

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post #7 of 49 (permalink) Old 09-07-2008, 08:34 AM
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Years a go when we were riding in groups of snowmobiles we made a very simple rule which works very, very well. YOU are responsible for keeping the person BEHIND you in sight. No racing to catch up is needed, if the guy behind you is falling back you slow up and wait for them. This was also the rule in military convoys, it works.

Those situations were without radios so with CB's on the bikes some seperation is OK, the general idea is still sound. I was with a group ride in July, 12 to 15 bikes is all each day. Out on the open road there is no problem, in the city of State College we were getting a bit split but the leader called out any turns and there was always someone waiting at that intersection to be sure those of us who fell behind got the correct turn, after we cleared the city traffic we stopped for a short break, everyone relaxed and caught our breath for a few minutes and were good to go again. I think stopping for even 1 or 2 minutes now and then to let people get back together and settle down helps a lot, trying to press on just adds stress. Take it easy and everone will be fine.

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post #8 of 49 (permalink) Old 09-07-2008, 08:35 AM
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Derek and Kit many good points, talk to wexman when he gets to Calhoun, I have ridden with him and with Derek both have a lot of marshalling experience.
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post #9 of 49 (permalink) Old 09-07-2008, 09:01 AM Thread Starter
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Well this seems to be working . It is simply my intent to bring everyone's awareness level up a bit.

I am not sure , things may have changed it has been years since I was in France or other countries but it always seemed to me people were just a whole lot more courteous and friendly to each other in most of those countries.

Over here we have idiots, who will come up behind a group of bike and floor it and rip up beside you at 90 plus miles per hour and then instantly cut back into a group of bikes......and think nothing of it. After all it is their road, what are you doing slowing them down anyhows??

Some lady will wander in and out of the pack......talking on her cell phone and putting up her hair with her feet.......think I am joking? Not much. If you just stay aware, it is cool. Kit

The 1800 is my bike. The very best motorcycle ever made. I was enthralled with my first test ride on this machine. It is a great bike. A crotch rocket with storage bags.............As for oil I use the slick kind, and I like round tires, but as of late I have found square ones work best on the rear. Pirelli Eufori 195/55/16 @ 32 PSI
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post #10 of 49 (permalink) Old 09-07-2008, 09:21 AM
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The safest way to ride in a group is for each rider to head off in a different direction at the earliest opportunity.




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