ride leaders.. how to's?

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by damasovi, Aug 29, 2013.

  1. damasovi

    damasovi Long timer

    Nov 8, 2006
    Ensenada, Baja California

    next summer we are planning on doing to the Canadian rookies from Baja, a couple of guys and me. When we cross the border into the US they all line behind me and I take them places and we have fun.

    This time we are taking a longer ride (2 weeks) so not counting my girl, I have never anyone follow me for that long, so I was wondering if you have any tips on how to be a good leader.

    I have started involving people in the planning, it is not "my" trip, but "ours", still I want every body to have fun and enjoy this (maybe) once in a life time ride.

  2. Witold

    Witold Been here awhile

    Jul 21, 2004
    Helmet communicators are awesome.

    You should keep each other within the line of sight. If someone crashes, they may or may not be easy to find. Depends on road conditions...
  3. canadian chris

    canadian chris Been here awhile

    Jan 8, 2013
    Victoria, British Columbia
    even when you make an effort to involve everyone in the planning, there may be one or two in the group who decide that you're their personal tour guide and they don't need to do anything other than blindly follow you and ask questions they should know the answers to themselves.

    "where's the next gas stop?"

    "how far away is the next town?"

    "where are we stopping for lunch?"

    "what's the motel we will be at?"

    if that sort of thing irritates you as much as it does me, you can make life easier with some printed reference sheets for all drivers, listing towns, mileage, etc.

    on a practical level, I keep the group behind me in mind when passing vehicles. If the group leader chooses to pass a series of cars/trucks, it's considerate to do it early into the passing lane/divided highway, so that the people following also get the chance to pass.

    same with merging back after passing - keep your speed up so that the rest of the group has room to get back into the lane.

    ^ it sounds obvious when I type it, but I see a lot of group leaders who forget that they're not just riding for one.

    ~ chris
  4. bikerfish

    bikerfish flyfishandride

    Aug 18, 2010
    western pa
    the more people you have, the slower you must ride, the guy in the back has to go faster than the guy in the front, and he/she is usually the least experienced, which often results in disaster. also, along with that, make sure the pace does not exceed the comfortable pace of the slowest rider.
    also, make sure everyone is responsible for the person BEHIND them, at all intersections and such, it's very simple if the person in front waits to make sure the person behind them made the turn and is following. in a large group, the lead rider often can't see the people way in the back, so it's up to everyone to make sure everyone is together.
    just tell everyone the nights destination and everyone is on their own to ride at their own pace.
  5. lvscrvs

    lvscrvs Long timer

    Jan 5, 2010
    +1 on the comms

    Riding with a group requires flexibility and compromise. If you haven't already, do some day-long or weekend rides with the same guys ahead of your trip to make sure your riding styles are well matched. Have an open discussion about preferences (start time in the morning, what meals and when, how many miles/day, etc.). Some guys will just laugh this stuff off, so it might be up to you to lead the discussion by being up front with some detailed discussion about your preferences and seeing how the others respond.

    I've led a lot of group rides and I've found that most people are really appreciative of the efforts I put in to make it a good trip for all. The most important thing is to design a great route so that the riders really enjoy the riding, and at the end of the day find some comfortable accommodations and libations... :freaky ... if you're so inclined.... :lol3... and a good time will be had by all.
  6. damasovi

    damasovi Long timer

    Nov 8, 2006
    Ensenada, Baja California
    thanks everybody for all the good advice.

    we are not new to each other, at least I have ridden with them all year, and our trip will be in 1 more season, so it means we will be well into each other.

    The microphones I have my reservation, they are like a GPS, they only work when you know how to use them, and more important they should be use as a back up to the main plan. Maybe is because I have not used them enough? or that the fact that only 2 of the group have them, but it is something we will like to have.

    I have been the slow rider of the group and the leader, and I was aware that the trip is not nice if everybody is doing 10-40 mph faster than you. And last June we did a trip with 10+ bikes and the guy at the back said, WOW! you sure are fast! I reply whit "what? I am going slower than the speed limit!" "NO!! I am trying to catch up and I am going 70 mph!" so I saw the differences in the almost mile that separate us, I was going 30-50 and he was so far behind.

    Their is a big chance that they all will say (again) "nice explanation of where we are going.. I will just stay very close to you and not get lost!" OK "I don't care to be ask all the questions of are we there yet?"

    So far I am trying to be a cheerleader, I put a presentation together to let everybody know what "we" might see along the way. Then I will send another ppt with more detail oriented info, such as asking for everybody to tells us their medical info, insurance and stuff like that. I hope they do not get mad, but I have ridden long enough to know that accidents are part of our passion and when someone has fallen it is not the time to ask ourselves, do you his family's name???

    Latter I will put a fan page or close group to have more info available to everyone, and I know not everybody is facebook oriented but even the seniors can see what we are doing.

    Got more? PLEASE!!

  7. NSFW

    NSFW basecamp4adv

    Feb 20, 2007
    Burbank CA
    we have one basic protocol

    the rider in front is responsible for the rider behind. basically, the group can only go as fast as the slowest rider.

    always ride in the staggered formation. the rider in front constantly look in the mirror for the headlight behind. no light, no go.

    enjoy your ride.
  8. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious.

    Oct 17, 2006
    Around Denver

    I hope that post was in jest.

  9. Thanantos

    Thanantos Ride hard.

    Jul 17, 2008
    Lots of good advice here.

    The last few years I've set up a number of week long rides and then led them with friends. It's good that you guys know each other, like each other and are already familiar with each others personalities, needs, riding ability, etc. That takes a LOT of the drama out of the equation.

    To add to what others have said....be prepared, be very prepared. Know your entire route well and have contingencies built in in case you have to cut the ride short due to a bike issue, bad weather, etc.

    Try to have a time limit or at least a guideline of time for stops. The bigger the group the longer the stops become as guys wander around. This summers ride I had to assign a guy as the time keeper. Gas stops were 15 minutes. That meant 15 minutes gear on and we're rolling.

    Be diplomatic and try to let little issues like where we eat, what hotel/campground we stay at be a community decision, but know when it's time to just fucking make a command decision. Again, the larger the group the harder it is to find a consensus so don't be afraid to just say "fuck it" this is what we're doing. That also means you should know the needs of and have a good idea of the likes of your riding partners.

    We have a diverse group when it comes to food so I usually stop in small towns where within walking distance the "grab lunch at a gas station guys", "always eat every meal in a diner guys" and the "I'm cooking over my camp stove guys" can all be happy. That's our group though.

    Chill out. We're all here to have fun TOGETHER. I make it clear to all the guys in my group that if the group as a whole is too fast, too slow, etc. you can always jump out and we won't think you a dick or a pussy. We'll even let you know, for sure, where we will be for dinner/overnight so we can all catch back up. BUT, realize you are in a group, and there will be a fast rider and a slow rider. A guy who can last for hours in the saddle and a guy whose ass is numb in 30 minutes. We all need to find some middle ground in this group, but if you're not happy with that middle ground that's cool too. Have a good ride dude.

    (This may be a bigger deal with my group as it's VERY diverse in terms of bikes. On the last ride we had an HD, Ninja 1000, Ninja 250, KLR650, DR650 SUMO and a GS1150)

    Probably lots more stuff, but that the big stuff I've learned. In the end it just comes down to being a good leader. Know your guys, care about them and make decisions that benefit the whole group while keeping in mind the needs of each rider. It's a hard line to walk, but fun and fulfilling in the end.

    Good luck man, ride safe.
  10. Wyngs

    Wyngs Adventurer

    Sep 9, 2013
    A lot of good advice here. I have been involved in putting on many rides, though all were only only day trips, but all were public. Talk about diverse :huh I like the bike communication idea, I think it works best when the leader is in com with the tail gunner who is usually the most experienced or senior rider in the group. That way, if there is an incident, a broken bike or whatever, the leader can know and no one gets accidentally left behind.

    It is always good to have a pre-ride briefing, we called them safety briefings, there the Road Captain lays out the general schedule, routing to the entire group and asks if there are inexperienced riders, does everyone know hand signals ect. If there are, ask them to be in the middle of the formation. But since you know all of them that shouldnt be much of an issue. Believe me in a public ride it is very much so. We only had to do it once, but one fellow we just simply gave him his money back and asked him to come back after he had gained some seat time before he killed someone. (He had only been riding for 2 weeks and decided to join a 40+ bike formation)

    Good luck on your ride, it sounds like a great trip

  11. RideDualSport.com

    RideDualSport.com TPB all the way

    Jul 7, 2009
    Texas at large.
    I will tell you a tale of the Trans-American Trail (TAT). I was the leader because I transposed the route from the paper TAT maps to tracks which I loaded on to my GPS. Thus, I lead by following my tracks. I was responsible for making sure that the rider behind me could see what turns I made and that rider was then responsible for the rider behind him, and so on.
    I monitored my rear view mirror as I rode in order to verify my partner made the proper turn. If he was not in my mirror before making my turn, I would slow down or stop until they were within my sight, then make my turn.
    We would occasionally rotate leaders, even though one was using the roll chart and did not have GPS tracks. Rotating was crucial, because it helped verify that my tracks were valid, plus it ensured that everyone used their brains to navigate and understand where we were and where we wanted to be. For safety's sake its important to have more than one person who knows were the group is. Rotating leaders also gave everyone a fair break from inhaling each others dust.

    Be prepared to deal with each riders metabolism - one rider had to eat three large meals a day, which adds time and expense to the ride, others could get by on snacks they carried with them. My brother and I would split a restaurant meal, while the other rider had an entire meal to himself.

    Poop and Pee... if your lucky everyone's got to go at the same time, but if not pack toilet paper to accommodate the unexpected, and try to be fast about it. The dude who has to eat all the time is going to be the problem.
    Carry laxatives - test them at home before going on the ride. Set the timer on your iPhone so are familiar with the lag time. As a matter of fact, require all riders in your group to practice this and be sure your all taking the same brand.
  12. stucknarut

    stucknarut Uh oh...

    Dec 28, 2011
    Lots of good advice. I've led rides and been led on rides, every group is different. Biggest things I'd say beyond what's been said all seem really obvious, but they're all based on stuff that happened.
    -be conservative in your plans for each day, since you probably won't get as far as you'd like. The more people, the fewer miles.
    -consider using hand/leg signals. Rehearse hand and leg signals so everyone knows what they mean (sometimes a pointing foot means 'watch out for the dead possum' as opposed to 'my leg is sore'.)
    -The rider in front is responsible to make sure the rider behind doesn't get lost. But, that doesn't mean he has to dawdle along. It means he'll wait at the next stop sign. That sets up the next one.
    -Everyone rides their ride. I got really serious about this after a newer rider went down behind me after following me into a turn I could handle but he couldn't. Ride within your abilities and comfort zone, not mine. Don't check out and just watch the guy in front of you, and don't let your ego put you in danger. The caveat is, never give someone shit for choosing to ride less aggressively than you, unless it's an old joke and you know they could give a shit (we all have those riding buddies).
    -Bring rain gear or it will rain every day. Agree before-hand about when you'll stop to put it on. Once followed a guy who rode 20 miles through the rain before pulling into a gas station. We were irritated with him.
  13. NSFW

    NSFW basecamp4adv

    Feb 20, 2007
    Burbank CA
    if it made you laugh then it could be a joke....:freaky

    sorry jamie, not my style to make fun on someone looking for good advice...:deal

    anyone riding with a big group should know that we give up some of our personal needs in favor of the group. look out for each other, and like i pointed out, the rider in front is responsible for the rider behind.

    perfect example. there's a hazard on the road. the leading rider should stop and warn the rest. it's not about me and me alone. there's the so called thing about safety and fun in numbers.
  14. Xskydiver

    Xskydiver Been here awhile

    Aug 6, 2006
    Willcox, AZ
    For those that carry SPOTs...put in a couple of numbers of guys in the group for outgoing messages. They will be your closest source of rescue if something goes wrong.