Tips for leading a group ride

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by wipfel, May 29, 2012.

  1. PT Rider

    PT Rider Been here awhile

    Aug 29, 2009
    NW Washington State
    Another way to run it is to make everyone responsible for staying with the rider directly behind them that they see in their mirror. If the rider behind stops, then the rider in front stops at the first safe place. And so on up the line. They stay put until the group leader (or someone else that is designated to do so, maybe the sweep rider) circles back and collects all his ducklings. No problem if the group gets separated by a red light--the front section will pull over and wait. The goal is to get to the destination more or less together and have fun doing it. Not to maintain a parade-like formation. Not to ride at a level that makes anyone uncomfortable. Never ever to do anything illegal or unsafe.
  2. Griffin44

    Griffin44 Been here awhile

    Jan 12, 2010
    For those that actually do lead group rides:

    How do you avoid inconveniencing, annoying and irritating everyone else on the road? For example, someone above noted making sure the whole group is riding at or below the speed limit = road blockage. Is there some consideration for this or do you just adopt the "I don't care about anyone else on the road" approach?
  3. ttpete

    ttpete Rectum Non Bustibus

    May 13, 2009
    Dearborn, MI

    There's always some bozo who manages to crash on a level straight deserted road with the sun shining. And with any luck, he will be the one that takes me out with him.

    That's why I don't do group rides.
  4. randyo

    randyo Long timer

    Nov 17, 2007
    Northern NewEngland
    part of leading a good ride is having a good sweeper. someone that knows your route making sure stragglers don't get lost. maybe have a few tools, etc.
  5. ttpete

    ttpete Rectum Non Bustibus

    May 13, 2009
    Dearborn, MI
    The sweeper in Harley rides is usually a truck with a ramp........:rofl
  6. Wuwei

    Wuwei Long timer

    May 19, 2008
    New York
    This seems to be the most common, from my observations on the outside.
  7. D R

    D R ----

    Sep 14, 2007
    Pilots measure experience by hours of flight time not how many years they've had a license. In a similar fashion, a starting point for judging riding experience should be how many miles they've ridden, not how many years. (...not the sole criteria for judging experience)

    Those you've mentioned who have been riding for years, but aren't very good, may only ride a few hundred miles a year at the most.

    Many here advised not to do it, but if you are going to, take the time to read this:
  8. OrangeYZ

    OrangeYZ Been here awhile

    Feb 11, 2008
    Southern Oregon
    My responsibilities as group leader:
    - Know that the trail goes through somewhere and forms a loop
    - If it doesn't, admit that it's a dead end, and don't take off on a deer path that goes off a mountain
    - If it's just a morning ride and nobody brought food or much water, try to be back to the trucks before sunset. Before noon would be even better.

    Rules like this had to be written for me because apparently some things don't go without saying.
  9. BrandonR

    BrandonR Been here awhile

    Oct 21, 2007

    In practical use Slow Sally gets passed every time, she never ends up in the #2 spot. The faster riders end up back at #2 repeatedly. It has the advantage of slowing down the fast riders so they aren't waiting as long at the full regroups. It's not an uncommon technique but most people don't have a formal name for it.
  10. dwoodward

    dwoodward Long timer

    Dec 1, 2005
    Pacific NorthWet, Napa Valley North
    I don't know how to "not get out of it". You get out of ti like this: "I'm not comfortable doing that." Problem solved.

    "Like minded" isn't the problem- it's the skill of participants. Like a chain, the group is as strong as it's weakest rider.

    If things go pear shaped, you don't know what any of the strangers behind you are going to do, or even if they have the skill to pull of what they want to do. If they don't just freeze up.

    The most I would do is come up with a route and give everyone a copy. Let them pick their own friends to ride with... or not.
  11. DAKEZ

    DAKEZ Long timer

    Mar 18, 2007
    Begin Op Zoom
    Read it and re-read it... Then apply it to your "group"
  12. dbuzz

    dbuzz Citizen of the world

    Jun 22, 2009
    On my bike
    I agree ... avoiding the whole shamozzle is the best plan :nod although I can appreciate that having the hard word put on you by your pastor would make it an exercise in diplomacy to make them understand the problems.

    The question I want to ask the OP is why does the church want a group ride? What is it's purpose?

    Here is Brisvegas there is an annual 'Bikers Blessing' event put on by one of the local churches. Everyone just turns up at the church for the service, has a cuppa & cake then heads off. Some arrive in groups (organised by themselves not the church), others turn up by themselves.
  13. Josephvman

    Josephvman I'm the Decider

    Nov 27, 2002
    Houston, TX
    I lead a lot of group rides in my Ducati club. Most of them are small groups with guys who ride together regularly, 5-10 of us, though we sometimes have as many as 20. I don't like to lead more than 10 or so, it just gets very hard to manage.

    I post the route in advance to our email list so everyone has an idea of where we're going, but for the most part we alternate a handful of routes that all the regulars know.

    We do a pre-ride chat to make sure everyone is on the same page, and to identify any new riders. I try to keep it as simple and common sense as possible, with just a few things:

    1. Staggered formation with at least a few seconds between riders when we're on the straight roads, and once we hit the twisty stuff we use our entire lane and just maintain the gap.

    2. No sharing a lane, unless of course we come to a stoplight/stop sign.

    3. If the guy behind you is riding a faster pace, wave him by.

    4. No passing unless the guy in front of you waves you by, and even then you don't pass in the same lane.

    As the lead guy, I try to only make passes when I can get most or all of the group to follow me in the pass. On most of our routes this is pretty easy to do. I make sure to tell the group in the pre-ride that if we're passing to make sure you keep up the speed when you re-enter the lane so the guys behind have plenty of space. We ride pretty fast and holding up others isn't really ever a problem. We have a guy riding tail, and we signal each other at all the stops to make sure all is cool. If there are guys who want to ride faster than the group pace, I will wave them by me, since they usually know the route. The faster riders tend to get waved to the front of the group, or start at the front since we ride together a lot and we're pretty familar with everyone's pace..

    I encourage everyone to ride their own ride and not to push themselves beyond their comfortable pace. Occasionally we'll have a new rider who just doesn't get the rules of the ride, but it's pretty rare. I've only had to kick two guys out of a ride in the past few years, one of which insisted on being six inches off my right rear no matter how many times I glared at him, and when I crested a hill and had to make a slight move to my right to avoid a turtle right in front of me he almost took us both out.

    Now that we have a fairly regular group it's pretty easy to lead the rides, but bigger groups or more than a couple of newbies can make it stressful. The biggest thing is to just not ride with idiots, and fortunately idiots tend to reveal themselve rather quickly.
  14. Motomedic

    Motomedic Over-caffienated Raconteur

    Oct 4, 2004
    I used to lead the Buell rides out of the Pirate Lair I worked at, until one of the riders crashed. I hated the feeling of looking back, seeing the gap, and then the car pulling up saying "one of your buddies crashed back there". That sucked.

    We had rider's meetings, rode at "The Pace", etc. Still, he crashed trying to ride above his self-admitted abilities. He walked away, the bike suffered minor damage and I said never again.

    I also suggest you check into the liability aspect. Turns out the dealership could have been held liable for damages from Alex's crash, as we advertised it as a sponsored monthly event.
  15. McB

    McB Joe 40 ouncer

    Apr 8, 2005
    North Slope of the Flint Hills
    Give them a map.

    Tell them where to meet for lunch.

    I enjoy riding with one or two other riders. Or more, if there's no real structure to it and we're all just taking the same general route to a destination. I rode to a monthly motorcycle gathering with some friends once, and when we all met at the departure point, there was a self-designated 'ride leader' who gave instructions and set the (generally slow) pace. I was more than ready for the return trip sans group. I did get better gas mileage than usual, though. :lol3

    I do get that there are groups of riders who like the 'led ride' format and do so regularly. Some, like a local Legion group, even promote more experienced riders to the position in a semi-formal way. I don't know if they get a jacket patch, or it's just something everyone acknowledges, but it works for them. Just not what I like to do when I'm on my motorcycle.
  16. wipfel

    wipfel Been here awhile

    Jul 22, 2011
    We ended up with 3 guys, including me! It was a perfect day, and we had a great ride. We rode a bit of the Trace, ran over to Franklin and had some sweet tea and key lime pie at Merridee's (delicious) and headed back. Took about 3 hours or so.
  17. LowInSlo

    LowInSlo Been here awhile

    Mar 13, 2011
    SLO County, California
    Sounds like a good day!