A group ride should have a flow, a rhythm to it.Words and photos by Jim Foreman
Additional thoughts by Shanghai HOG Ride Captain Jim Rice.
Taking a group of friends or riders out for a day trip or a multi-day ride is a serious responsibility. A good leader makes the difference between everyone having a great experience or not.
Several important characteristics separate a good ride leader from a poor one.
Please keep in mind that this is not about group ride etiquette or hand signals but rather how to be a good group ride leader.
Consider no more than 6-8 riders in a group. It’s far easier to manage a smaller group and ensure everyone has a great time.
Make sure you express that each rider must take responsibility for their riding and actions. They must also be able to communicate any criticisms without reprisal or fear of rejection.
Remember that a ride leader’s responsibility is to lead a fun and safe ride for the entire group. It’s not to show off how amazing and awesome a rider you are in a selfish and ego-centric way.
|Agustin Ceron Guedea's Hi-Viz Jacket and Helmet make him very noticeable.|
3. Ask a rider with a bright helmet or unique lighting to serve as the tail or sweep rider.This is key. Make sure you constantly check for the sweep or tail rider and that everyone is keeping up at a safe pace. If they are not, it’s important to slow down the tempo of the ride so that everyone can safely enjoy the ride. Communicators are helpful but are not critical to a group ride’s success.
4. Arrange a stop at a next gas station if the group becomes separated.Invariably, the group may become split, temporarily. Traffic lights, merging cars, and mechanical or operator issues may cause the group to split. As a ride leader, if you notice this, slow down the group in the lead to see if the remaining group can safely catch up. Invariably the people at the end of the group will be riding faster then the people in the front, so keep the speed down. If, after a while you don't see the remainder of the group, stop at the first gas station or intersection and wait. Make sure everyone knows that if the group becomes separated that this is what will happen and they won't be left behind.
You may be an Iron Butt Association member, but the rest of the group may not be able to sit on their bike for long periods without stretching. This is especially true of sportbikes. Take regular breaks. Make sure everyone is drinking water, having a good time and not showing tell-tale signs of exhaustion or dehydration.
If you haven’t been on the road, make sure you find out, first-hand from someone who has recently been on that road what to expect. Make sure you know the elevation, road conditions, and expected weather before proceeding.
Make sure to take photos at breaks and if a group member wants to ride up ahead to take riding-action photos, make sure they can.
keeping the ride uncomplicated will simplify every aspect of the ride. Trying to control every aspect will create unnecessary stress and strain on you, and the group. Avoid complicated hand signals, overly technical roads or dependence on electronic rider aids. Technology is useful but not necessary.
Lastly, have fun. That’s what a group ride is supposed to be all about.
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