Group Rides….Everyone has a different expectation of what a group ride is and how it should be conducted. Personally I’ve never been a fan of large group rides. The reason is that unless you know each rider personally and their riding style, you never know what you’re getting into. There are basically 2 types of riders out there–those that have a constant need for adrenaline and must prove they are a dominant rider, and those that could care less and just enjoy the ride no matter what the speed. This is a very important aspect because the first type of rider can quickly put you out of your comfort zone and make the ride unpleasant.
I’ve observed this over the last couple of years many times over (in myself and amongst other riders). It is absolutely nothing against the other riders or their riding style, but has to do with my own comfort, which is why I want to share this with you; so that you can determine your own comfort level as well.
Now, I’m not what I would consider an experienced nor very skilled rider. The places my group and I ride are often technical and relatively dangerous compared to the average city road. So my comfort level is often much less than that of the group since they are all seasoned intuitive riders because many have been riding since childhood. The difference is that these riders respect my shortcomings and never push me or make me feel like i need to go faster than what I can handle. Not only that but they each take their time to coach me and guide me on the best path to become a sensible and skilled motorcyclist. However even though I would consider my group very helpful and understanding, I can not deny the fact that I always feel bad that I’m not on their level yet and that they are always waiting for me…no matter how many times they claim it’s totally fine. That’s the pressure that I’m certain all new riders feel and that is precisely why it’s so important to find the right people to ride with, especially when you are still learning.
I can’t tell you how easy it is to get caught up in an adrenaline rush and start to push beyond your limit. You may get scared but the thrill overpowers that nagging survival instinct thought that perhaps you should slow down. One of my recent educational experiences came when I was having so much fun riding rather aggressively that I startled the car drivers around me. There are times you feel so comfortable and in control that you think “you got this”. the problem with that thought process is that ONLY YOU got this and not everyone else around you. For me it was a very interesting experience realizing that to be a safe and considerate motorcyclist, you need to keep your cool. I know it sounds simple enough…but as humans, our emotions are not simple, we are easily swayed by others’ actions and logic seems to escape us when it’s mostly needed.
The key things you may want to look for in fellow riders is how safe they ride and do they consider others’ safety. Are the other riders more into just speeding away and making everyone else play catch-up? When a passing opportunity comes along, how do they handle a group pass? What type of communication and hand signals do they use? Does the lead bike respect the abilities of the less experienced riders?
There’s plenty of already well written articles and guidelines on the internet regarding group ride etiquette; that’s not my purpose here. The goal here is to think about what your riding style is and what you feel comfortable with. Also, remember that just because you are sandwiched in a group doesn’t mean that you don’t have to be any less vigilant or responsible for your own decisions. And above all, always ride your own ride. There is nothing more satisfying and pleasant than riding with like minded people. You look over and they are enjoying the moment just as much as you are, you’re all separate but together in experiencing this wonderful camaraderie.
Ride Smart. Ride for a Lifetime my friends.