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Thread: Thoughts on group rides...

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    Senior Member Travis's Avatar
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    Thoughts on group rides...

    Another thread about the loss of a fellow rider, Bret Steiner, is generating a bit of controversy about the riding habits of a local group. Since many of Bret's family have posted on that thread, it seems an inappropriate place to be bashing the group, questioning the details of the accident, finger pointing, etc.

    Can we redirect that stuff here?

    I've only been on one organized group ride which happened to be with Pashnit members. It was a fun day and a mature group. I sometimes ride aggressively, but on this day I chose to lay low and ride towards the rear of the group. I was afraid of what would happen if I began to feed off of other riders and ride aggressively.

    I often ride alone, and find I prefer solo rides. But I do have a group of friends who often ride together. There is a broad range of ability levels, but most of us are on sport bikes. We tend to vocally remind ourselves of the notion of riding at one's own pace, and we make regular stops so nobody feels pressure to keep up.

    I often see groups of riders, especially in places like Wentworth / Ice house, the Sierra passes, etc. I almost always rush to judgment: bunch of squids - someone's gonna crash, bunch of Harley riders - someone's gonna crash slow, etc.

    I've never ridden with the SCR, so I'll withhold judgment. But personally, I'll continue trying to avoid riding in large groups of any kind. If I ever do again, I'll make an effort to take it easy in the back, and save my aggressive riding for solo rides and track days.

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    Senior Member Travis's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts on group rides...

    With that said, I have witnessed two minor accidents recently - both may have been prevented by a different group mentality than existed.

    The first was earlier this summer. I joined a regular group of friends who I feel very comfortable with - we all wear gear and ride at our own pace, and support one another when someone's not feeling it and wants to just take it easy for the day.

    A friend of one of the regulars came in tee shirt, ripped jeans, sneakers, gloves, and a full-face. He was loaned a good jacket. His bike was beat-up from a crash, but he very defensively claimed it was someone else who crashed it. On the way out of town, he kept goosing the throttle in traffic and on straightaways. The rest of us cruised along, and he seemed to get the idea. Once we hit the twisties, I sped-up a bit (I was in front) and very quickly lost the group. A few miles in, and I knew something had happened. I turned around and only one rider approached. The new guy had lowsided due to a poor speed/skill ratio and gone home. The rest of the group accompanied him.

    In hindsight, I know we all saw the signs, but none of us stepped forward to really have a talk to the guy. He learned the hard way, but thankfully was uninjured. We haven't seen him, or the jacket, since.

    The second accident was just the other day. I was planning on going to Wentworth/Icehouse, but because of the bad mojo, we chose a very quiet road (that's not even mentioned on CA moto roads!). There were just two of us - myself and a friend on his brand new GSXR 600. He claimed to have previous experience, and we had ridden together once before. He had proven himself mature and cautious on the previous ride.

    I sometimes use a video camera, and did on this day. As I was setting it up, I told my friend not to feel any pressure due to the camera, just enjoy the ride. He replied that he wouldn't go fast on an unfamiliar road anyhow. This whole exchange can be heard on the video.

    He went in front so I could film him, and sure enough, he took it easy (painfully slow for me, but that was ok). At one point, he crossed the DY - no oncoming - and shook his head in disgust with himself as he shook it off. A few turns later, and he did it again! At a very slow pace, without even leaning the bike, he appeared to just give up and attempt to ride it out on the opposite shoulder - again, no oncoming. He hit dirt, and down he went. He was fine, but his bike was 15 feet down a steep embankment.

    His accident was not caused by excessive speed. I don't know what caused it. I've looked at the tape a bunch, and see no physical cause. My guess is that he was distracted. By the video camera? Possibly. By pressure from me? While we had verbally agreed that an easy pace was fine, I was right on his tail (15ft or so) for video purposes. Again, speed was not the factor - but my presence may have distracted him.

    So in a larger group, especially an "organized" one - how many factors are there at play? Speed, certainly. Nerves, social distractions, individual and group techniques, fatigue - the list could go on.

    Is it the group organizer's responsibility to mitigate all these factors? How in the world would that even be possible?

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    ~*~Crazy Lady~*~ FishWitch's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts on group rides...

    The real responsibility is on each individuals shoulders. One has to know his or her limits and draw the line when needed. A group leader can talk till they are blue in the face but when the ride takes off it is the individual's duty to ride within their limits.

    Group riding is fun and safe when done correctly and within reason.

    I have bailed on rides if I felt the group was not riding safely or even if they were just too fast or slow for MY pace. I still had fun, and returned home safely to do it again the next day. Boils down to GOOD JUDGEMENT and then USING IT!

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    Gettin' Dirty Again vnsfxr's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts on group rides...

    Quote Originally Posted by FishWitch
    The real responsibility is on each individuals shoulders. One has to know his or her limits and draw the line when needed. A group leader can talk till they are blue in the face but when the ride takes off it is the individual's duty to ride within their limits.

    Group riding is fun and safe when done correctly and within reason.

    I have bailed on rides if I felt the group was not riding safely or even if they were just too fast or slow for MY pace. I still had fun, and returned home safely to do it again the next day. Boils down to GOOD JUDGEMENT and then USING IT!
    Sydney has also been known to bail when she didn't have her rain gear

    Seriously, unless it is a parade, big groups and an enjoyable ride do not happen at the same time on the same day for me.

    There is a small group that occasionaly gets together in the North Bay. We have the understanding that the person who invites some one new to the group is responsible for them.

    More than once the responsible person has looped the newbies back home and the rest of us have continued on.

    Nothing, and I mean nothing, ruins your day like coming up on a crash.
    ďA man with a brief case can steal more money than a man with a gunĒ Don Henley

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    yamvenrider vwjor's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts on group rides...

    i used to do the group ride thing, not anymore though. even to the point that i planned the rtes and logitistics of the ride. but i would worry to damn much about the skill level within the group. i'm talking 12 to 20 bikes a ride. big pain in the ass. and sure enough, one day one guy not paying attention crashed and almost took two other bikes with him. after that i lost all appeal with group rides. now i just ride with a few friends. 4 bikes at the most, which for me is a much more relaxing ride. one thing i noticed in large group rides is people tend to want to keep the pack together at all cost. cagers who are impatient will start passing untill it's time to get over, then the herd mentality takes over and for what ever reason the group does'nt seem to want to back off because the pack must not separate. i even witnessed this with an 18wheeler, the semi had to get over, but the pack would'nt separate untill the semi was in there lane. that was almost a really bad day. just my thoughts on group riding.

    wayne

  6. #6
    ->Live2Ryd2Live<- m0t0-ryder's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts on group rides...

    Although I do prefer riding solo (or with only one or two other riders) I have done quite a few group rides.
    They can be fun and are also a nice learning tool.

    SBR (South Bay Riders forum) usually has a semi-regular group ride.
    It is local (Santa Cruz Mtns) and depending on the turnout will be broken down to sub-groups of from 5 to 8 riders. These rides are usually started with a speech about safety, the pace, the route and the signals used when riding in a group.

    SBR (as well as BARF, another bay area forum) also has seen a few "newbie" rides organized each year.
    We just had one a few weeks ago.
    This is a perfect opportunity for an eager rider to learn more about riding, as well as riding in a group.
    The newbie ride was very well organized with emphasis put on the pre-ride lecture on the days ride and especially safety.

    Riding in a group brings dynamics into the ride that just don't exist in solo (or very small group) rides. You need to be as aware of (if not even more aware) of the riders around you. Especially since they are very likely fairly new at the ride.

    Most of my miles are solo.
    But I do get enjoyment while with riding with a group.
    Sometimes it takes a whole tankful of fuel before you can think straight!

    Ride as if your life depended on it!

  7. #7
    40 years on 2 wheels SklyWag's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts on group rides...

    Thanks Syd!

    To expand on what Sid has said.. Oh, sorry soapbox, soapbox, where is it?

    Ok, got it, here I go.......... You guys know I do this now & then

    Group riding is a great experience, it is a lot of fun, it is a great way to share experiences. However, there needs to be control. It is so easy for a group ride to get out of control. Ego, one-up-man-ship, inexperience, envy, "I can do that" take over, everyone wants to show off, be noticed, be accepted.

    Again, I have ridden over 40 years (we will never speak about the 1st 5 years or so) and I could not even begin to count the successful group rides I have lead or been part of. While I start and end my safety lecture with one question, " who is responsible for your safety" and while the only answer is "YOU" the ride must remain in control.

    Why do I say that, when you put 5, 10, 20, 30 or more people into a group ride you create dynamics that if not kept in check will almost always lead to someone getting hurt. Seems like human nature to want to be the best. Now the issue at hand is, is everyone willing to be part of a controlled group ride? Simple answer, NO. I always give folks a way out, if the ride is too fast, too slow, too frustrating with new inexperienced riders, you have the choice to leave the ride, if you decide to stay with the ride you must conform to the ride pace regardless, you must not degrade the newer riders. It is your choice.

    Now the ride leader is has a tremendous responsibility to control the ride. The ride leader has accepted a responsibility to provide a safe experience. Example - taking a 2 week old rider on a group ride of 30 is totally irresponsible, sorry, that is just a fact, like it or not a 2 week old rider does not have the experience, regardless of age or maturity to realize they are over their head. You might like to think that they do, but ego & wanting to be part of the gang will guide them.

    Recently I lead a ride where I had a couple newer riders, everyone knew that when we got ready to leave, good safety meeting, everyone agreed they were comfortable with a slower ride to support the newer riders. The newer riders were capable of a reasonable pace, and had done some smaller rides very successfully.

    What happened was some complaining about the pace from a few more experienced riders. What did I do as the leader? I had accepted a committment to see the ride safely through, I was committed to the safety of everyone so I told them two choices, ride with us and support the newer riders, or, go ahead and create your own ride. It ended up being a split decesion, some left some stayed. The ones that stayed commented later that they were glad they made that decesion because it supported the newer riders and did not make them feel like they weren't welcome on the ride.

    The ones that left.. left. That's ok it kept the ride safe. Leader responsibility, if the leader keeps the pace safe for the newest, slowest, least experienced, the leader is doing what they have committed to. Go ahead pass me as the leader, you have just excused yourself from the ride. Do not try to fall back in saying you were just getting the best out of the road. You are out, you have set a bad example and shown direspect to the leader and the group.

    Now the one other thing a leader must be willing to do is say, "I'm sorry you do not have the necessary experience to be on this ride, I cannot in take you with us" Have I done this, YES, do I like doing it, NO. You must not do this in public. The final thing a "Leader" must be willing to do is say, I'm sorry the ride is over i will not lead it anymore as it has become unsafe. The Leader must the be willing to ride off by themself taking no one with them to affirm this.

    As the leader of a ride, you need to be there 1st, you need to observe every rider as they arrive (yes that means not socializing with all your buddies), if you don't know someone you must introduce yourself and ask a few basic questions, how long have you been riding, is this a new MC for you, have you rideing in groups, how big a group, are you comfortable on twistie roads. Now, you must be able to read between the lines in their answers. Find out who they are with, YOU must determine if they are capable of the ride, otherwise if you let them participate you are committed to ride at their level for safety. You as a leader must balance the entire ride, if that means saying someone does not have the experience to go you MUST do that for the safety of everyone.

    For the leader, EGO, must not get in their way. A leader does not just ride 1st in the group, they must be a "leader" in all respects.

    Why group rides go bad;
    Inexperience in the leader
    No guildelines about how the ride wil be conducted
    No pre ride safety discussion
    NO RULES
    Allowing just everyone to go
    Wrong rods for the group experience

    Not everyone is meant for group riding & each person has a group size limit that they fit into. Give these things a 2nd thought the next time you lead a group or decide to be part of a group, after it's your life at stake.

    I personally will not lead a group of over 50 and that is a stretch. I like to lead a group of up to about 20, it is a great experience.

    One thing I did not touch on is group Sweeps, the ones that keep the group together, other experienced riders mixed in the group that understand exactaly what the leader is doing and is supporting them. You cannot lead a ride of more than 6 MC's without a Sweep that is working with you. If you do, you are setup for problems.

    Guys, some of the very best group ride leaders are the women.....

    Sorry, they just don't have the ego we do.

    whoa, what was that, oh, soapbox just got pulled out from under me

    Ride safe folks, '''There are too many roads for one lifetime''' lets help everyone enjoy them, for many many years.



    Gixxerdale says it all in his signature line....... Do you know what it is?
    Bill (SklyWag)
    There are too many roads for one lifetime...

  8. #8
    Senior Member Hoologan's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts on group rides...

    ^^ WOW! Great input Bill.

    *Deleted uneccessary content, it was out of place in this thread*

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    Super Member JPM's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts on group rides...

    Quote Originally Posted by FishWitch
    The real responsibility is on each individuals shoulders. One has to know his or her limits and draw the line when needed. A group leader can talk till they are blue in the face but when the ride takes off it is the individual's duty to ride within their limits.

    Group riding is fun and safe when done correctly and within reason.

    I have bailed on rides if I felt the group was not riding safely or even if they were just too fast or slow for MY pace. I still had fun, and returned home safely to do it again the next day. Boils down to GOOD JUDGEMENT and then USING IT!

    Well said

    I have been on a few group rides here and called 2 myself; all have been great rides. I make it clear what I do for a living and what I will not put up with around me; which is why I probably don't go on some rides and don't get invited on others but I would rather have it that way.

    In most of the rides I have been I have brought up the rear, not that I can't keep up (I have no problem keeping up or out riding the majority out there but I have no need to do so).I enjoy a relaxed pace when I ride and riding the rear lest me see who's being naughty or nice.

    I also have no problem riding with new riders and have done so, but itís at their pace. If you can't ride at the slowest riders pace that don't go with the group.

  10. #10
    say cheese! com3's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts on group rides...

    i rarely ever touch group rides. my "group rides" usually consist of 1 or 2 other bikes, at most. 99% of the time i fly solo.

    rules, routes, structure, leads, sweeps....all that stuff detracts from the riding experience, IMO. i ride to be free, not to follow around someone who thinks they may know better than me (not to say i know everything). i don't care who leads or follows, as long as they don't get in my way, don't muck up the pace, and/or don't ride over their heads.

    the most i do is stop at intersections until i see the next bike...then i go again, and it's simply up to the next bike to stop and wait till they see the next bike coming up from behind, et cetera.

    the few times i've gone on "group rides," i usually just take off up ahead and stop for smoke breaks and wait for everyone to catch up again... or i'll take pics of the riders coming through... but FULLY expect me to be passing you within a few minutes to get back to the front to repeat the pic process.

    i've done a few of the pashnit tours. those were all ZERO drama rides. there was structure to the rides, sure, but i came into it with no expectations. in fact, i came into it wth one goal: float around the group and take pics+vids. pass, stop, take pics, go, pass, stop, go, take pics....

    also, since the tours were multi-day rides, it really gave a chance to meet the other riders...no clicky type stuff...just a group of a dozen or so people all with the same outlook. THOSE were freggin great group rides..

    when it comes to people that i actually seriously have the best time riding with... m0t0-ryder, gary, fast_far (on this forum) 2 others from another forum, and one AMA superbike racer that's not on any forums.

    that's it. everyone else i feel like i'm babysitting or simply they don't share that same 100% outlook that i do when it comes to riding (like maybe making a sudden detour following a stream on a rabbit trail or something).

    //end

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