Did you read the article on Group Riding in the March/April issue of Hog Tales? If you didnít, you probably should. While itís not exactly how we do things, it does reinforce the concept of and need for structure for group riding. Iíd like to share with you some observations I made about this article.
The first item that stood out for me was the comments regarding what should be done before the ride. The self questioning regarding riding abilities versus the particular ride requirements.
This specifically equates to our Ride & Rider Rating System.
The next item was the individual pre-ride inspection. It included not only the bike pre-ride inspection, but expanded that to include selection of appropriate clothing, rain gear, tool, first aid kit & cell phone.
While we donít have a formal checklist or documented program to cover these items, itís things Iíve covered on numerous occasions during my Safety Talks.
Next, the riderís meeting was discussed. This is where the ride route & details are shared, any potential or known issues are discussed & questions answered.
Part of our Road Captain training materials includes a pre-ride prompter, personal checklist & questions for the group, including route, medical needs & hand signals materials to help guide them through an effective pre-ride meeting.
I would note here that our hand signal set is well-defined in my Group Riding Techniques manual & will differ some from various other published hand signals. To avoid confusion, study, memorize & use our hand signals, not those from Riders Edge or other chapters or organizations.
Staggered riding formation was the next item discussed. The accompanying diagram was well done & described the formation well.
This is our main riding formation. It provides a tight group formation while maintaining reaction spacing for individual riders, providing the 1 second stagger, 2 second directly behind spacing is maintained. Again, this is a time spacing; actual distance between bikes varies with travel speed.
The article discussed the use of a ďsweepĒ rider at the back to make sure any break-downs are not left stranded alone.
We try to assign rear road captains to cover this.
Our Road Captain training discusses what to do in these situations, although any situation can be different than the various contingencies we try to prepare for.
The article describes using single file formation for freeway on ramps & off ramps.
We generally do not follow this procedure. When entering or exiting a freeway, timing is critical in order to merge or exit from other traffic. It is important to signal these maneuvers to other traffic. It is important to keep your attention on the merge or exit maneuver. This leaves little time or attention for changing formations too.
While changing to single file for on & off ramps may seem to make sense at first glance, detailed analysis of the maneuvers reveals the flaws:
An immediate change from single file to stagger increases each bikeís reaction space (to the bike directly in front) to 4 seconds, requiring a drastic speed increase to re-establish spacing.
An immediate change from stagger to single file reduces each bikeís reaction space (to the bike directly in front) to 1 second, requiring a drastic speed reduction to re-establish spacing.
While there are additional points & analogies that can be made, I hope these few Iíve discussed point out that the techniques & programs we have established for our Chapter rides are well founded. Their effectiveness of course, depends upon how well each member knows, understands & follows them.
Words of Safety