Rights and Responsibilities of a Group Ride
A big part of motorcycling is the community, the sisterhood it builds. One of the ways we build that and empower other riders is group riding. To ensure an enjoyable ride for everyone there are a few things to consider. Think of these as the Rights and Responsibilities of group riding. Rights that you can expect from the ride and those around you and your responsibilities as rider.
The rider is responsible for their bike and themselves.
Your bike needs to be safe for the road and ready for operation. Use the T-CLOCS pre-ride inspection checklist. The other rider's time is valuable and you want to make sure not to delay or end a ride due to lack of maintenance or inspections. Just like the bike, you need to be ready to ride. A safety mindset, fueled body and physically able are just as important. Know your bike and common group hand signals.
It is your right to not be left behind.
A group ride is just that, a group. If a group leaves a downed rider without explicitly being asked then they are not your people. But on the opposite side, a group may want to leave you if you're unable to keep up or have multiple delays. When setting up a ride it is good to be clear on what speeds to expect. You should never ride faster than your guardian angel can fly, and if a group takes off without it'll suck, but you'll be safe. I'll always have mixed feelings about this as group rides should follow the posted speed limits so that all riders should be able to maintain those safe speeds.
It is also your responsibility to not be the slow rider.
Again, the speed limits considered, some novice riders are not able to maintain those speeds and it is unfair for the rest of the group to be held back. Also keep in mind, when it's time to ride, be ready. Dont keep the pack up because you take extra time to get on gear. Be mindful of their time..
It is your right to be in a safe pack.
Too many in a pack can complicate it and the additional variables can increase risk. As a lead it's hard to see more than a half dozen riders back. This could make stop lights, yes you should follow the rules of the road, easily split up a pack. Or just not be able to see other issues that arise. Size matters. Staggered formation is a common way to keep the group safe and together. Make sure the pack knows formation and if there is a specific order to maintain. As a lead, I like to have my more novice riders in the positions directly behind me and the more experienced riders at the back. This allows me to adjust to their speed challenges more quickly and an additional level of safety. Going over these expectations at a briefing before the pack heads out allows riders to know what to expect and any information they may need to feel comfortable. A quick run through of hand signals to refresh everyone may be wise as well.
It is your responsibility to keep the pack intact.
The pack is treated like a single vehicle. Just like not being the slow rider, not to leave too much space that a car squeezes in. Try not to let the pack accordion too much to allow cars to make their move. Make sure to keep together going through intersections as well and pay attention when the person in front of you stops. Again, in group riding, especially with a large pack, you follow the rules of the road and part of the pack may need to safely stop at a traffic light. Also, keep in mind, blocking is not legal in most places and while many find it safer, I think the safer option is to plan for the possibility of a traffic light splitting you up. There are a few ways that work depending on your group dynamic. Having a mid lead take over temporarily until you catch up with the front of the pack or immediately have the front pack pull over to wait for the group. Being attached to a communication system makes this even easier.
You have a right to feel comfortable.
You should not be made to feel uncomfortable with other riders' behavior. Knowing the other riders intend on riding safely and keeping you safe as well. Maintaining a pack in a staggered position and following the rules of the road. The use of communication devices like Cardo and group hand signals so intentions are clear helps maintain safety.
It is our responsibility to fuel up..
Planning a meetup at a local gas station is probably the easiest for most rides. Then you know everyone is ready to go.
You have the right to ride whatever bike you want.
The groups that give you a hard time for your motorcycle preference are not your people. However if you choose a bike with a limited speed or fuel capacity check with the lead or ride organizer to see if your bike will be suitable. Not all rides will be right for you and that is okay.
And lastly, it is your responsibility to ride safely.
There is a time and place to ride aggressively, it is not a group ride. This is not the time to show off or tailgate. At the end of the day, not every group and group ride is meant to be for you, and that is okay. We all want to continue motorcycling for many years to come so being safe for yourself and others in a group ride is of the utmost importance.