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 Group riding protocol

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dspevack
MikeO
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buddy19520
Touring Scooter Rider
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buddy19520

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PostSubject: Group riding protocol   Group riding protocol I_icon_minitimeSat Jul 31, 2010 6:33 pm

I've been riding for about a year now, and most of it is by myself (probably 90% or more). I have about 6500 miles on the Silverwing and about 2500 miles on the little 150cc Chinese scooter (which is holding up surprisingly well). My bike handling skills are decent, but I know nothing about group riding.

I've been trying to get into some group rides and have now ridden with some riders twice. The group is mostly guys in their 40's to 60's and it's a mix of bikes, with 5-7 bikes per ride. The first ride I mostly tagged along and went wherever they wanted to go, at the speed they set. The second ride was one that I initiated - most of the same people and a few new ones. I planned the route and led the ride. We did have to cut it a little short because of rain, but we got about 120 miles in for the day.

What I am wondering about, and would like some advice about from those who have ridden often in groups, is this - one of the guys (whom I invited) was very slow. No matter the speed limit (30, 45, 55 mph) he would go five and sometimes ten miles per hour below the speed limit. Even on straight roads with good visibility and low traffic, he would go below the speed limit. I wanted to set the pace at the speed limit, or speed limit plus five mph. He would leave a big gap (you could fit three cars in between us), which caused me to have to pull off after going through lights because it would turn red mid-pack. We moved him around to second in line so we could keep him in view better. But I felt as though I spent more time looking in my rear view mirror than watching the road. I noticed several times that we would have a line of cars crowding our last rider, because the whole group was going slow.

This fellow has ridden motorcycles in the past, and took up riding a small scooter last year and a Honda Rebel 250 this year (I think he said that he has put about 2000 miles on it this year.) I know the bike is capable of keeping up (first ride we had another Rebel, riding two-up, that kept up with us), so it has to be the rider.

I felt as though he was endangering the group because we were holding up traffic, and cars would want to cut between us because of the big gap he left. We kept the speed down so that we wouldn't make him ride beyond his limits (but he has told me that he has ridden the Interstate before at 70+ mph). I think others in the group were frustrated a bit; I know I was.

I think I should have ridden with him once or twice before inviting him into a group, but I didn't. But, for the future, what can we do if he wants to ride again? Are individuals supposed to pick up the pace to blend with the group, or does the group ride to the abilities of the least rider?

Thanks for any and all suggestions.
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jdeereanton
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PostSubject: Re: Group riding protocol   Group riding protocol I_icon_minitimeSat Jul 31, 2010 6:46 pm

Philip I have struggled with this kind of thing in the past.

It is my opinion that if an individual agrees to ride in a group, they have to conform or get out. We once met up with a guy in WV who we had planned to ride with on the Blue Ridge Parkway. There were 4 of us plus him. He would not keep the pace and we eventually had to tell him he needed to keep the proper gap. He did not want to so we told him to drop to the 5th position and not lose sight of us. Seems cruel, but he did finish the ride with us.

It is after all a group ride not a group conform to the slowest rider ride.
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MikeO
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PostSubject: Re: Group riding protocol   Group riding protocol I_icon_minitimeSat Jul 31, 2010 6:55 pm

I agree. We ride for the least-experienced but if someone deliberately rides as your chap does, he isn't invited again.
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dspevack
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dspevack

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PostSubject: Re: Group riding protocol   Group riding protocol I_icon_minitimeSat Jul 31, 2010 7:01 pm

Philip,
The tail should not wag the dog.
Before asking him on another ride, ask him specifically what his problem or concern was.
In fact, if I lead a group ride, I put all the specifics up front.
I specify that we are going to do at least the speed limit and probably a little more in the invite!

Then if I see someone going slow or anything else that is detrimental
to the ride, (usually something you can identify in the first 15 minutes) I pull the group over, and ask the person politely if there is a problem. I specify that we need to function as a group according to group rules. If he has a problem with that, then he can either leave, or take last position, and if he doesn't keep up, that's his problem. And If he asks me to change the rules I will tell him that phrase specifically..."THE TAIL DOES NOT WAG THE DOG".

Dan
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buddy19520
Touring Scooter Rider
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buddy19520

Number of posts : 378
Location : Cornelius NC
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PostSubject: Re: Group riding protocol   Group riding protocol I_icon_minitimeSat Jul 31, 2010 7:08 pm

Thanks, guys. I felt guilty because I invited him, and the rest of the group had to suffer. We kind of brought up his slowness in a gently manner a few times, but it did not change anything.

I will speak with the rest of the group to see if anyone else was bothered - perhaps I am just too impatient. Then I will ask him in plain English if he is ready to keep up before inviting him again.
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Hammy
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Hammy

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PostSubject: Re: Group riding protocol   Group riding protocol I_icon_minitimeSat Jul 31, 2010 8:46 pm

I lead rides for a scooter group and a motorcycle riding group. The riding styles differ greatly. If this guy is riding consistently a few miles below, maybe he's a speedo-watcher and despite his experience (or lack thereof) may not realize his speedo is off. I regularly lead groups up to 10 or even 20 (NOT ADVISABLE, lemme tell ya!) riders, and it doesn't matter how much experience someone might have as a solo rider, group riding is another thing altogether. In cases like this, I've had to be pretty plain and say, listen, you cannot keep such a large gap. Cars will cut in and endanger everyone. Timing is simple -- 1 sec behind the rider on your left, 2 secs behind the rider directly in front of you.

If even after accounting for accelleration difference, he still can't or won't cut it, I'd just have to tell him that he needs to either keep up, or the group ride is off completely because, as ride leader, I have to keep everyone in order and if you can't do that, then the whole group cannot continue. (I = ride leader, you = the nonconformer). Sometimes shame or guilt can go a long way.

Then again, sometimes some folks just don't get it. My biker buddies told me of one time this lady on a 50cc scooter came along, and decided to ride with them to a bar. Some of my buddies nearly burned out their clutches cos this lady could barely pull 25mph on flat ground!

Whatever the case, Philip, I can feel your pain... as well as the tail wagging the dog, Dan (I've got a perpetual dog-wagger as my usual tailgunner).
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masscoot
Silver Wing Rider
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masscoot

Number of posts : 438
Location : Central New England
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PostSubject: Re: Group riding protocol   Group riding protocol I_icon_minitimeSat Jul 31, 2010 9:51 pm

It's a common error we all make when someone new wants to join in. I try to ride with someone before inviting them to ride with the group. The group I ride with are a pretty serious group and we are always concerned with each others safety. The 5-7 riders is a managable number if all ride in sync and staggered. I am the sweeper and the lead has over 40 years in the saddle. Group riding is skill + trust, and needs to be practiced just like our solo skills need to be honed. If a rider displays poor group technique even after he is placed forward in the group (#2 or 3), then for the safety of all... he's out. I have lead rides but prefer to sweep instead. My advice to any ride leader is lead the ride, the ride leader leads the riders and the sweeper keeps the flock together Group riding protocol Icon_lol
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MikeO
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MikeO

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PostSubject: Re: Group riding protocol   Group riding protocol I_icon_minitimeSun Aug 01, 2010 4:16 am

"Timing is simple -- 1 sec behind the rider on your left, 2 secs behind the rider directly in front of you."

It's comforting to see other group-riders do the same as us; the 'Two Second' rule makes such good sense:

"Only a fool breaks the two-second rule' is something I learnt during the Police BikeSafe Day I went on soon after I passed my Test. (For them as don't know, it takes two seconds to say it)

We stick to it as far as road width and conditions allow and in seven years of riding together have had only two minor collisions, both involving less-experienced riders.

Group Riding with competent riders taught me so much and built my confidence immeasurably, encouraging me to stretch my limits in a controlled, supportive environment. I know I'm not alone in my English group in that respect.
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tonylumps
Maxi-Scooter Rider
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tonylumps

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PostSubject: Re: Group riding protocol   Group riding protocol I_icon_minitimeSun Aug 01, 2010 5:45 am

I have done a lot of Group riding in my time When I belonged to the Venture touring Society and H.O.G. Large groups are more problems With different Riding skills This is more so with Scooter clubs with skill and the size of your scooter varying so much. Any orginized ride should have a pre meeting before the ride And if it warrants split the group according to personallity leaving 5 or 10 Minutes apart with a Predetermined route and stops And if someone on a Faster bike or Scooter feels like smelling the Roses They could ride with the slower group. But it is always nice to ride with 3 or 4 people who know each others moves. Just a thought. Tony
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jdeereanton
Silver Wing Guru
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jdeereanton

Number of posts : 1996
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Location : Huntsville, AL
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PostSubject: Re: Group riding protocol   Group riding protocol I_icon_minitimeSun Aug 01, 2010 7:19 am

The 2 second rule is parmount in a group ride. I'm including something a ride leader sent out via e-mail a few years ago in advance of a rally with group rides:

FIRST AND FOREMOST -

Admit to yourself what kind of rider you REALLY are. How good are you really? Are you afraid to enter a very steep down hill left hand hairpin turn in which the roadway is canted the wrong direction and a 300' drop off on your right?

If you know you cannot SAFELY keep up with a fast or medium riding group do yourself and the group a favor and DON'T JOIN THE GROUP.

Why? You MIGHT KILL YOURSELF THATS WHY! Ridiculous you say? Read the paper and then get back to me. Be honest about your abilities or inabilities and you will find the right group of people to ride with..

SECOND -

RIDE *****"YOUR" ****** RIDE!!!!! This cannot be stressed enough. If you find yourself falling behind the group PLEASE DO NOT push yourself or your bike faster than you can handle.

Instead let someone in the group know you going to slow down and then make a decision to turn around and go back the way you came or follow the map to the rides destination.

DON'T HOLD THE GROUP UP, slow down and RIDE *****"YOUR "*****RIDE and arrive alive.

HOW CAN YOU TELL IF YOU CAN'T HANDLE IT??? This is easy, if you are clamping onto the seat repeatedly (puckering the leather) and wondering to yourself if you can make the next turn THEN YOU DON'T BELONG IN THAT GROUP.

If you come into a turn and find yourself wide to the outside of the turn (near or over the white line) consistently YOU ARE IN THE WRONG GROUP. If you cross the yellow or double yellow because you couldn't find the right "line" into and out of the turn you DON'T BELONG IN THIS GROUP.
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john grinsel
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PostSubject: Group riding   Group riding protocol I_icon_minitimeSun Aug 01, 2010 12:23 pm

Best advice I can give after 55 years experience-----don't do it---group riding is and can be quite dangerous.

Leaders often fail to realize the poor guy in back has to go fastest and should be strongest rider.

I earned my living for 7 years in Japan running a motorcycle school where a group ride in Tokyo traffic was part of training----but I had control of who went, the real bad students had to take the basics over until I felt they wouldn't kill themselves in traffic.

Riding alone is best, maybe another 1 or 2 added. I don't like waiting for people who need gas, don't have bike in proper repair, no rain suit/rubber boots, etc, etc.

John Grinsel I have been on group rides---with WI Gov Tommy Thompson, several times-----but state patrol went ahead and blocked intersections,etc. But there were still HDriders who wouldn't/couldn't turn the wick up----but they had their halloween costumes on. Still even with police help was pretty dangerous untaking.
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MikeO
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MikeO

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PostSubject: Re: Group riding protocol   Group riding protocol I_icon_minitimeSun Aug 01, 2010 4:10 pm

Philip, I've got a few links somewhere on my PC; I'll dig them out tomorrow.
Mostly they're UK Police based but the technique's much the same for any riders.
The British Police don't go in for lots of hand-signals on a group ride, though.
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jdeereanton
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PostSubject: Re: Group riding protocol   Group riding protocol I_icon_minitimeSun Aug 01, 2010 4:56 pm

john grinsel wrote:
Best advice I can give after 55 years experience-----don't do it---group riding is and can be quite dangerous.

john grinsel wrote:
Riding alone is best, maybe another 1 or 2 added.

Sounds like a group. Absolutes are a bitch!
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buddy19520
Touring Scooter Rider
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buddy19520

Number of posts : 378
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PostSubject: Re: Group riding protocol   Group riding protocol I_icon_minitimeSun Aug 01, 2010 10:10 pm

Thanks for all the responses everyone.

I have ridden a mountain bike for over 15 years. I was reasonably competitive, but not a racer boy. Usually I would only ride with people that I knew, and were of compatible skills and speeds. I screwed up by not trying to ride with the slow guy (my neighbor) in advance of inviting him along. I had done exactly that with another rider, just to make sure he was comfortable with the kind of pace the group rode on the previous ride.

However, I also had my own philosophy about joining someone on the trail - if you go in with them, you are responsible for coming out with them. Since I invited this guy, I did not want to drop him. Luckily, nobody in the group was really bitching about it, but I do think they all would have preferred to pick up the pace a little.

Reading the responses, it seems that a plainly worded conversation about expectations is the norm among motorized riders. I did not want to be out of line by griping aloud about him, but now I know better - I can (at least in a polite way)!

Thanks to all!
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Hammy
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PostSubject: Re: Group riding protocol   Group riding protocol I_icon_minitimeMon Aug 02, 2010 12:40 am

I enjoy group riding as well as solo riding. Would I say one is more dangerous than the other? EVERYTHING we do in life is all about risk management. A group might ride slower while a solo rider might go faster than s/he should. There's always caveats and exceptions to everything.

That being said, all ride leaders and tailgunner should also be very aware that we are likely less skilled than we think we are, and that our actions have a great deal of impact on our riders. Also, that solo ride experience often matters little to the way someone rides in a group, so don't neglect the 'experienced' rider during the ride briefing -- sometimes it's those ingrained habits that are the worst to deal with on a group ride. I know I'm certainly guilty. I've learned that the hard way and still continue to learn with every ride and mishap that happens.
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