Even 2 is a GroupSep 30, 2009 Write an essay on this topic.
The Bottom Line Riding in even the smallest group means that it ain't all about you - it is all about everybody else.
You can be riding in the middle of "The Trail of Tears" or with someone you have known for years, there are some very basic unwritten "rules of the road" for riding in any group. The group can be 2 bikes or 20,000 bikes, the rules are the same. It is your responsibility not to delay or distract the group with anything that you can control.
Ride Prep - The Day Before
Just like being in the Boy Scouts, you have to be prepared. That preparation begins the day before you plan to ride with others. Why the day before? There could be things that you will need a bit of time to take care of.
- Do a walk-around. Take a close look at your whole motorcycle. Check the oil, tires, and look for any loose or missing fasteners. Nobody else needs to wait while you look for a quart of 20W50 synthetic oil at the start of the ride. Let your license plate fall off during the ride and you can learn a new definition for embarrassment.
- Digital cannot always be relied on. Having a state-of-the-art GPS makes route planning much simpler, but internal map programs might not have recent detours and road improvements. Having a paper map could be the key to not getting lost.
- Check the weather forecast. That weather forecast will not only dictate now much time the ride will take, but it will also dictate your gear. Locate all the potential gear you could need for the ride. If you might need a rain suit or heavy gloves the next day, find them the day before.
- Fill your gas tank. Other riders should never have to wait while you look for 91 octane gas.
Ride Prep - Ride Day
- Do a second walk-around, it is kind of like the preflight inspection pilots do. You could have missed an important detail the day before, and making sure tire pressure is correct before every ride will drastically increase the life of your tires. Nobody wants to wait while fiddle around with a screwdriver.
- Show up on time. If your ride is planned to leave from a specific location at a specific time then you should be there on time.
- Be ready to ride. The planned time to start a ride is not the time to call home, look for your electrically heated gloves, dig out a rain suit, go to the restroom, or clean your face shield. Frustrating the other riders while you piddle is no way to start a ride.
- Know where you are going. If you are late because you could not find the meeting place then you will make everyone else late to start the ride. You should also know where the ride is going, so that if you are separated you can still meet. The other riders should not have to worry about what might have happened to you.
Finally - The Ride
- Everyone is a leader. Unlike on the track where you are responsible for the well being of the rider in front of you, on the street you are responsible for the rider behind you. Be predictable, always plan passing and traffic signals so as not to strand the rider behind you, alert the rider behind you of hazards, use your brakes early (as a warning to the rider behind you), and keep an eye out in case the following rider gets lost.
- Stop when it is time. If you get tired, hungry, or start to lose patience then it is time to signal the rider behind you and pull off the road. When you cannot be 100% sure that you are 100% capable of riding well, then you are in no shape to handle the responsibility for the others on your ride. I know that I have no desire to participate in your accident!
After the Ride
- Kicking tires is where you learn. You will be surprised how much you can learn about your riding when you take the time to "chat" with the other riders. This could be a time to hear what you have been doing "wrong" or what others have been doing wrong. Either way, it is the best time to polish your skills.
Following these basic rules is no guarantee that you will be the world's most popular ride leader, but I will bet that it will increase your chances of being asked along in the future.
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