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    Enfield Group Riding Techniques/ tips

    Thursday, August 5, 2010

    Group riding is not the kind of thing that comes naturally. There are a few rules that should be obeyed in order to make group rides safer for all involved. It's generally best if the group leader makes sure that each member is familiar with the group's riding style. If it isn't the duty of one person, then it won't get done (with potentially tragic results during the ride).   

    The group leader should also know the following: 
    • How far the bike with the shortest range can go on a tank full
    • How far do the riders want to go between stops
    • Make sure that everyone starts on a full tank
    • Is everyone aware of the route? (even hand out route maps if possible)

    Make sure everyone knows how your group rides. 

    Whenever a new member joins your group, acquaint them with the rules that your group operates under. The last thing that you need is some poor schmuck wrapped around a tree because someone made an unexpected move.

    Make sure that your bike is in good shape.

    One advantage of group riding is that there is someone to help you get home if something goes wrong, but remember that someone else might have to count on you for the same thing. It's no fun if your bike breaks down 100 Kms away from home. Also, bad brakes or oil leaks might take out more than just your bike.

    Know your personal limits.

    Don't ride at a speed or in a way that you're not comfortable with. Not everyone can be Kevin Schwantz (as hard as it is to believe, a lot of people don't WANT to be Kevin Schwantz! :-). If all that you want to do is relax and take in the sights, then don't sweat it. A good riding group will plan their stops in advance and provide enough time for stragglers to catch up.
    Something else to keep in mind; If you see someone doing something stupid or you're not comfortable with the way the group rides, then don't be afraid to GET OUT WHILE YOU CAN! Don't let someone else dictate the way you ride, or you'll pay for it in the long run.

    Ride "the pace".

    Tied in somewhat with knowing your personal limits. Ride at a speed that you're comfortable with. If you feel that the rider (or riders) in front are moving slower than you would like to or are slower in the twisties than you are, then pass them in the straights. Corner passes are for the track, not the street. There's no point in lugging it and not enjoying yourself, but don't risk your fellow riders.
    If you pass the leader, then make sure that you are ready to assume his role for the group.
    There's also no reason to flog it in the straights, unless you have some obscure reason to want your license gone. It's more fun to strafe the corners at a speed that you can enjoy, without being insane and on the edge of your skill. Find and read a copy of Nick Ienatsch's "The Pace", which was published in Sport Rider Magazine some years ago. It can be found all over the 'net

    Know the route and stopping points.

    If you get lost along the way, then your fellow riders are going to be wondering what happened to you. Don't let them think that you're in a ditch somewhere if you're not. If you have to leave the group, then make sure that someone else knows or wait until the next scheduled stop to let everyone know.
    It's best to have a designated group leader who knows the route well. If possible (and if someone can be persuaded to take the position) it's a good idea to have a "sweep" rider who can keep an eye out for drop-outs during the ride. This person should also be very well acquainted with the route and be of saintly disposition :-)

    Ride in staggered formation in the straights.

    Staggered riding serves several purposes.
    · It allows for "lane blocking". Cars are much less likely to intrude on two or more bikes traveling in formation than they are with a single bike.
    · It permits greater visibility than when riding in single file. Each rider can see past the preceding rider in order to watch for road obstacles.

    Break it up in the corners.

    Don't hold staggered formation when you get to the twisty stuff. You can handle the corners better if you allow yourself to use the whole lane. You are less likely to follow a fellow rider into an off road excursion or to get "sucked into" the corner too fast for your comfort or skill level if you're not too close. Take the corners in your own way and at your own speed.

    Keep an eye out for your fellow riders

    One good thing about staggering the group is you can get a good look at the rider immediately behind you without having to crane your neck around your blind spots. Take a look back every now and then to make sure that he's OK.

    Know the group's standard signals.

    Apart from the usual left, right, and stop hand signals, most groups will come up with a few that are specific to given situations. Here are some examples:

    Leg pointed to one side or the other
    Obstacle in the road ahead along the line that the foot is pointing

    Hand held down and flat
    Slow down

    Arm up with finger pointing in front of the rider
    Fuel or washroom break needed (usually QUICKLY! :-)

    Hand patting the top of the helmet
    Police car / speed trap ahead

    Point with index and middle finger at face shield
    Headlight / signal light problem (point to who)

    Credit: Rob MacLennan

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