GUIDELINES FOR GROUP RIDES
(With excerpts from Guidelines for Group Rides Part II by Carmela Ostman)
Please maintain your position in your lane; do not switch between right and left tire tracks, as you will be cutting off the bike behind you!
3. RIDING POSITIONS
LEADER: The rider at the head of the group, in the left side of the lane (left tire track). The Leader has the ultimate responsibility for the safety of the group. She must set a reasonable speed for the ride, taking into consideration the road conditions and the various riding skills of the group. She will warn of obstacles in the road by pointing with hands or feet, as she is the only one in the group that has a full, unobstructed view of the road. If a hazard is pointed out to you, please pass the warning on to those in back of you. Only point, however, if you are comfortable in doing so. Never let go of the throttle to point, as the sudden deceleration will create a risk of being hit from behind. If evasive action is necessary to avoid an object, make it obvious to those behind you.
The Leader should have the route mapped out ahead of time, and know exactly where she is going. Pre-riding the route before taking the group is essential to a successful group ride. A tank bag or other means of securing maps and directions to the gas tank is important as double-checking your location is essential, but maps should be consulted only after coming to a stop! Do not attempt to read maps "in flight". The Leader should have several copies of the route to pass out to other leaders of sub-groups, if there is a need to split a large group. The maximum size of a group should be six.
The Leader should "follow the Tailgunner", meaning that the last person in the group is setting the pace. Use your mirrors to keep an eye on the person behind you. If they fall behind, slow up. If everyone does this, the group will stay with the Tailgunner.
Under most conditions, the Leader is the one everyone else follows, and the one who gets the blame if the group gets "off route". Remember, no one "gets lost" on a motorcycle; just think of it as an opportunity to explore and practice your U-turns! We should all take a turn at playing Leader, as it will improve our self-assurance and increase our understanding of the Leader's job. When you're Leader, try not to take criticism personally; if you're doing everything right, you've got a bunch of people behind you with little else to do but watch everything you do. They're bound to see something that they'll rub in the next time you stop. It's all part of the "fun". Remember to lighten up!
NUMBER TWO: The second in formation; in a staggered formation this is the rider behind and to the right of the Leader. Number Two shares the responsibility with the Leader of alerting the group of any obstacles in the road, by pointing and deliberate avoidance.
If Number Two starts leaving a wider gap, or goes into single file behind the Leader, there is probably a good reason and the rest of the group should follow suit.
Number Two's primary responsibility comes into play when the group executes a right hand lane change on a multi-lane road. The Leader will signal the intent to move into the right lane, the Tailgunner will move over first to hold the lane, thus signaling the beginning of the lane change. The Leader at this point does not have a clear, unobstructed view of the right lane, but Number Two does and can make sure that it is safe to move over. Now a safe, orderly right hand lane change can be made. The riders in the right position move to the right lane, followed by the left position riders. The same conditions apply during a left hand lane change, but the left riders move over first, followed by the right side riders. This looks like "Highway Ballet" when done smoothly and correctly.
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