15Group RidingAlthough group riding is fun and a great place to meet new friends, it can be a bit intimidating. The ride is more enjoyable if you are prepared and knowledgeable about the ride beforehand.

When deciding to join a group ride, know what you are getting into. Distance, time, speeds and ability are all factors to be considered. Asking yourself if you have the right bike for the ride is important. Another question you should ask is what speeds you will be traveling. If you are unsure about practical details like this, contact the organizers. Finally, and very importantly, you must ask yourself, “Are these the right guys to ride with?”

When riding with a group, get there with your bike ready and a full tank of gas. This is just being polite.

Before the start, you should have you clothing adjusted so you will be comfortable during the ride. As the temperature and weather conditions change, you need to be prepared. You will want to have the appropriate clothing for the appropriate weather — and don’t forget about ensuring the same for your passenger, if you have one.

Although most riders do not like riding in the rain, the truth is that if you ride long enough, you will get wet. So bring your rain gear just in case.

Communicating during the ride is essential. Talk with the group or ride organizer about hand signals. The lead rider will set the pace and communicate by hand signals everyone will know. Many of these signals will tell riders to slow down, to turn or to notice a danger on the road. These are helpful for this time of year as pot holes from the winter weather are still prevalent throughout the state.

Do not over ride your ability. If the group is fast, there is no shame is staying back. If you feel the person behind you is too close or you are riding beyond your ability, hang back and let the people behind you pass.

The person in front of you should be responsible to look back and keep an eye on you. You would do the same for the rider behind you. If you lose sight of someone, pull over and, after a minute or so, turn back to check on them. In theory, this should keep the group together as a whole.

My biggest concern when riding in a group is distance. Your No. 1 safety priority when motorcycling is space. Although it looks cool to ride side-by-side, this is extremely dangerous and jeopardizes yourself, the person beside you and the people behind you. To avoid disaster, you should instead stay staggered: stay one second behind the person in front of you who is in the opposite lane as you and two seconds behind the person directly in front of you in the same lane. This will give you room to brake and swerve in the event of a dog running out or that eventual pot hole that is ahead of you.

Motorcyclists have a lot in common. They are all, by nature, risktakers. Knowing when to throw in the towel with a group is something you should be ready to do. So if you come to that point where you no longer feel comfortable about riding with someone, do not be ashamed to let the group know you are breaking off. Chances are that if you are not having fun, they are not either, and it is probably the best decision for all.

If there is a topic you would like to discuss, please contact me at motorcycle4fun@aol.com.

RIDE SAFE!

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