GROUP RIDING TIPS
April 3, 2021
Hello all. With our “2021 Ride to the Tide” rapidly approaching I thought this might be a good time to go over these group riding tips. These apply to all group rides no matter what size the group is. This is a police officer escorted ride so some of the below may not apply.
Organizing the ride:
First off Safety is the number one concern during a Group Ride. Safety is the primary responsibility of everyone participating in the ride. Road Captain and Sweeper need to be experienced riders, know the Ride routes planned stops and well versed in hand signals. All riders need to be aware of their skill level and know their motorcycle. A Group Ride is not the time to learn how to ride in a group. Clubs should organize practice group rides. If riders will be riding with a passenger for the first time, they need to practice riding with the passenger before the ride. Your motorcycle will handle a lot differently with a passenger on the back.
Arriving for the ride:
T-CLOCKS, Pre-Ride MC Inspection, should be done before arriving. Riders should carry a first aid kit, cell phone and a tool kit. Arrive ready to ride, full tank and with appropriate protective gear. DOT helmet – 67% more likely to suffer deadly head injuries by not wearing a DOT helmet. Filling up gas tank – At the start of our Ride to the Tide several years ago we found three big bikes had gas leaking from their gas tanks. Apparently, the riders had just topped off their gas tanks before arriving to the start location. As the sun began heating up the temperature it caused the gas in the tanks to expand and began leaking out of the overflow. This creates a hazardous condition with so many people and bikes being close together. A carelessly discarded match or cigarette could be disastrous. Manufacturers recommend not filling your motorcycle’s gas tank all the way to the top to avoid this potential problem. Leave several inches of space for the gas to expand especially during the hot months.
Road Captain pre-ride discussion: 30 minutes before ride start time.
Discuss hand signals, route destination and planned stops along the way in case group gets separated. The least experienced riders should ride at the rear of the group. The speed of the group should be at a comfortable level for the less experienced riders so they will not fall behind. If riders don’t feel comfortable keeping up with the group, they should drop out rather than trying to ride beyond their limitations to keep up.
Go over group formation.
Staggered = 2 seconds behind rider in front, one second back from rider in front on other side of lane. Single file = 2 seconds behind rider in front. Trikes & Side Cars = single file, 2 seconds behind. Do not ride side by side = No Safety Margin!!!!!
Keeping group together:
Intersections are the most dangerous situations for riders due to other traffic entering from numerous directions. When making a turn from a traffic light or stop sign, make it one rider at a time and then reform into a staggered formation if called for. If parts of the group get separated by a traffic light or traffic, the group can pull over and wait if it’s a small group or the separated riders can just meet up at next planned stop or designation. It is not wise to speed or ride beyond your limitations to try to catch up. Safety is more important than group integrity. Blocking intersections for riders to make it through is not a good idea unless being done by the appropriate authorities. This can be extremely dangerous and can easily become a liability issue for you if an accident were to happen. Just because an intersection is being controlled by a police officer or a civilian still be on the lookout for a vehicle driving into the intersection.
Parking motorcycles at planned stops or designation:
Organize so only space needed is utilized. Park so group can depart area as easily as possible. Use caution when pulling out and reforming the group.
The Leader signals the lane change and others relay the signal back. The Leader moves over first. The Sweeper moves over to block any oncoming traffic so all the riders can change lanes. The rest of the group follows front to back and forms back up in same formation. Its beneficial if the Group Leader and Sweeper are in radio contact with each other to assist in the lane change.
Dropping out of group:
If you know you will be dropping out of the group at some point make sure to let the Leader and Sweeper know. It is also a good idea to let the rider behind you know so your leaving is expected. The riders to the rear will then adjust their positions if riding in a staggered formation.
If possible, signal the riders behind you by activating your four-way flashers and pull over safely from the group. The Sweeper will pull over to assist you. Again, don’t speed or ride recklessly to try to catch up with the group. Just plan on meeting them at the next plan stopped or designation. The Sweeper will notify the Leader of the situation by radio if he is equipped.
Hazardous road conditions:
Single file formation is best. Make sure to pass signal back to each rider.
Try not to ride over small obstacles on the roadway as this may cause you to lose control and could possibly cause your rear tire to kick the obstacle back to riders behind you. If you cannot avoid the small obstacle, make sure you are aware of the procedure for riding over an obstacle. Slippery road conditions should cause the group to slow down. Riders should avoid excessive lean angles, braking and should roll off the throttle while passing through the slippery area.
Nighttime & bad weather:
Slow speed down; give riders more space for safety concerns. Look for hand signals. Use other vehicles lights to scan ahead. Keep a watchful eye on riders behind you.
I hope these safety tips are of some value to you. Let’s hope for great weather, lots of riders, passengers and of course Safe Travels.
Bruce Taylor / Safety Officer / Blue Knights DE 1 April 3, 2021
April 3rd, 2021
QUICK TIPS: GETTING READY TO RIDE IN THE SPRING
Hello to my fellow Blue Knight DE1 members. Spring has arrived with some nice weather recently, so I thought it is time to go over some important safety pointers. Many of you may have put your bikes away for the winter back in October or November and have not ridden since. Now that the salt, sand, and brine has washed off our roadways and the weather has warmed up many of you will be getting back out on your bikes. Remember, it’s now been four or five months since you may have last ridden. Just like in shooting our firearms, our skills deteriorate quickly when we have not been practicing them. Please do not just get right back out there on your bike and start riding the same way you last rode months ago. Most motorcycle accidents happen in the spring and I believe it’s due to riding skills deterioration. I would suggest you practice the below skills in the nearest empty parking lot as soon as you begin to ride.
(Remember, just because it’s sunny and 60 degrees some days there are many left over hazards waiting for us from this past winter. Be on the lookout for loose salt and sand on the roadways especially in turns and corners. It can be as dangerous as ice. Until we get some more heavy rains and the street sweepers out cleaning up you can expect to find salt and sand on the roads. Plus, don’t forget to be on the lookout for all the POTHOLES that seem to be appearing on all the roads. If you can’t swerve or stop to avoid a pothole then hold on tight to the handlebars and don’t apply your brakes or accelerate while riding across the pothole. Be prepared for the jolt as your tires drop into the pothole.)
Before you decide to take your bike out for a ride, especially if it’s been sitting all winter check for the following:
- Tire inflation – This is one of the primary causes of many motorcycle accidents especially when cornering. Proper tire inflation on a motorcycle is critical. Motorcycle tires tend to need to have their tire pressure checked more often than car tires. Improperly inflated bike tires don’t corner or stop as well, or funnel rainwater away as well as properly inflated tires. Plus, the tires will wear out quicker and we all know how expensive tires are. Also, don’t forget to check the side walls of the tires for cracks, gouges or bubbles.
- Check all your lights, especially brake lights, to make sure they are all working.
- Check all your primary and secondary controls to make sure they are working: Clutch lever, shifter lever, front brake lever and rear brake pedal, throttle, make sure the throttle automatically rolls back to the idle position when released and all the secondary controls such as the engine cut off switch, turn signals, etc.
- Check your fluid levels even if you haven’t noticed any leaks under the bike.
- Check all your cables for any fraying or areas where they may be rubbing against a part of your bike.
- If you have not had your bike serviced for a while it might be time. The fluids, especially oil, are like the blood in our bodies. Remember, take care of your equipment, motorcycle, and your equipment will take care of you.
I would recommend you practice the below skills in an “empty” parking lot as soon as you begin to ride.
- Practice riding around the lot to get the feel of your bike again.
- Practice some low-speed riding, circles, figure eights, 90 degree turns and weaving. Cut tennis balls in half to use as guides for practicing weaves and other techniques.
- Practice “Quick Stops” at different speeds. Don’t try to be too quick the first couple of times as you get use to stopping quickly again. Do not lock up your front brake. If you do “Immediately Release” the front brake or you will find yourself on the ground wondering what the heck just happened? You need to immediately get the front tire rolling again to regain stability, then reapply the brake appropriately. (You will stop much quicker if you don’t lock up either tire. You’ve lost traction once the tire locks up.) Being able to stop quickly and in control is extremely important. I love when I hear riders say, “I laid the bike down on purpose!” Who taught you how to do that? No, you locked up your front tire and down you went!
- Practice Swerving around an obstacle such as a car door suddenly being opened in front of you on a narrow street or an obstacle on the roadway, pothole.
- Practice riding two up in the parking lot first if you plan on riding with a passenger.
Two up drastically affects how your bike handles. You need to be ready.
If you are afraid of dropping and damaging your bike in the parking lot while practicing, I suggest the following: You can tape pipe insulation or swimming pool noodles on your handlebars, highway and saddlebag guards, fairing and other parts. You can put bubble wrap on your fenders. You can remove your saddlebags. This will have little effect on your bike’s handling.
(If you realize you are losing your balance and your large bagger is tipping over, keep your feet on the foot pegs/floorboards and your hands on the handlebars. Don’t try to hold your bike up using your legs or hands. Doing that is when most riders suffer broken hands/arms, ankles/feet or injured knees. Just let the highway bars take the brunt of the tip over.) You might be able to keep a smaller bike from falling over, but if you’re not sure don’t try. I had a good friend break his ankle in three places trying to keep his Electra Glide Bagger from falling over. I hope these suggestions help in getting the rust off your riding skills.
Ride Safe, Ride Smart and Enjoy the Ride.
Bruce Taylor / Safety Officer / Blue Knights DE 1 April 3rd, 2021