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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Folks:

I need some impute on other's experience in group riding. I am attempting to set up workable guidelines for large group rides.

Ideas on how to organize a large group? Are police escorts really needed? What about traveling through small towns with a bunch of red lights? What about radio communications? How do you do a big group ride and maintain safety? What about blocking major intersections?

Thank you brother and sister riders in advance for your comments.

HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?

Last weekend a select group of 8 very experienced "group" riders, each with tens of thousands of miles riding experience including a Nationally certified riding instructor met to ride the HAWKS NEST and discuss group riding in general.

We spent two days riding pavement and two evenings discussing the finer points of group riding. The predominant point centered on "when does a group ride become to big?" Is it 50 riders, 100 riders? There is an ego factor. That is, show off a freight train of riders stretching a mile or so in one great group. The mere fact that so many riders are riding together is impressive but DANGEROUS to each participant.

OUR CONCLUSION: Unless there is a very experienced ride captain with reliable radio communication and police (blue knight) escort capable of LEGALLY blocking intersections, there should be no more than 10 riders. Why? Because the group leader has line of sight to the rear. He/she can in a couple of seconds count the riders after each red light or turn or intersection. SIMPLE BUT EFFECTIVE AND SAFE!

Let's say a ride has 75 bikes/scooters. The ride should be divided equally into 8 sub groups, each with a group leader and roughly 10 riders. Each group leader is required to have GPS capability and cell phone communication with the organizer. Today's modern GPS will not only get each group to "Home Base" but will establish a time for return (set up by the organizer or chief group leader).

Now, this simple methodology of "divisions of the whole" has been used by the military forever.

I must admit that on our second day of riding (Sunday) I got lost. I never told the elite riders I was leading because I was too embarrassed. I just turned on my GPS and got us to home base safe and sound. By the way, we hit, by accident better pavement than if I followed the route in my head.

Some thoughts to consider when organizing a group ride.

Vince
 

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Vince
You make a very good case for group rides with a small group of riders.
You did an excellent job of leading our group last weekend and your local knowledge of the riding area was very helpful.
Even though you did use your gps to find the correct route to get us back to rider central your local knowledge did alert you to the fact that we were on the wrong road.
ride safe
david s
 

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Vince,

I couldn't agree more. Smaller groups are safer, the ride experience is better, and people actually get a chance to get to know their fellow riders better which builds friendships.

Jeff in Pittsburgh
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hi Folks:

I need some impute on other's experience in group riding. I am attempting to set up workable guidelines for large group rides. I have a post under "RALLIES AND GATHERINGS - HAWKS NEST ALUMNI RIDE" page 3.

Ideas on how to organize a large group? Are police escorts really needed? What about traveling through small towns with a bunch of red lights? What about radio communications? How do you do a big group ride and maintain safety? What about blocking major intersections?

Thank you brother and sister riders in advance for your comments.

VINCE
 

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A good ride is when all riders follow the leader, all the times, even when he makes an unscheduled turn. I remember two instances , one where I was leading, using my GPS, which said turn right here,while the second riders GPS said go straight. As I started to turn ,guess what almost happened.
The second instance had a group of about 16,with everybody knowing what route we were to take.The leader made an unscheduled turn and following 4 of us naturally followed,however the 5th rider stopped and started yelling that this is not the right way, resulting in a great deal of confusion,an ruffled feelings.
Another instance the whole group followed the leader and we ended up at the end of somebody's long driveway :oops: (so much for always following the leader)
Personally I was not aware of any unplanned turn and totally enjoyed the whole ride :cheers:
Looking,with great anticipation, to the next ride.
 

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Personally except for fully escorted rides, I find anything over about 6 riders to be difficult to coordinate if any urban riding is involved. It's just to hard to get the group through stop signs and red lights together. Out in the country where such things are rare I'm more comfortable with a little larger group.
 

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IMHO, group rides are inherently dangerous. As such, I'd split any group ride into several smaller groups (less than 5 riders) to lessen the risk.

The pre-ride briefing should cover things like spacing and what to do when the group is split by a traffic light. With a small group, it is no big deal...you simply pull over and wait for the riders who were caught by the light to catch up. The important thing is that everyone should be briefed so they don't do something dumb and unsafe by trying to keep up with the group.

I'll generally make a copy of the route and stops for each rider in a group I lead, even if it seems straight forward. It's a matter of courtesy in my mind and if we do get separated for some reason, everyone knows where the planned stops are and where to meet if separated.

Spacing can be an issue. In high traffic areas, the group needs to stay in close formation...with one caveat. If everyone know where they are going, it doesn't matter if they are split up as long as they keep in sight. Once the traffic dies down, then the group can string out with 3-4 second spacing. That allows everyone to ride their own ride and use both sides of the road. The agreement (covered in the pre-ride briefing) is that you don't make a turn to another street without making sure the rider behind you can see you make that turn.

Large groups ...in my mind, even 5 riders...can become a safety hazard. Car drivers will try to pass where there isn't room. Even other motorcycle riders will do so, and force their way into the middle of the group. If riding at one second spacing from the rider in the other half of the lane, this is an accident about to happen. Get a group of 25 or more riders, and you have a recipe for road rage, especially since many of those groups will ride below the speed limit. Someone will try to force their way around or through.

There is something inherently scary to me of riding in only half a lane, one second from the rider in front of me and behind me as many group rides call for. If one person goes down because of sand or gravel on the road, everyone behind them will probably go down as well.

Chris
 

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3 is good ( still managed to lose one Sunday but she was new rider ( lady cop on a 175 HP Honda Race replica :shock: ) and got turned around coming back to my son and I who stayed at an obvious intersection and she forgot she had my phone number.
Things happen - a group of 5 managed to get lost going around a single block - I went the legal direction - they went the wrong way down a one way street and next I saw them was them pulling in at 10 pm freezing to death after getting turned around in the PA mountains despite 2 GPSs. Me, I followed the river home.
Lead was snarking about a "anyone seen a Burgman" -
I overheard and sauntered up and said "I've been home for an hour what the **** happened to you "
That was the last time I ever rode with that particular rider .....he was lead, endangered his group ( the guy in leathers and sport bike could hardly talk - he was blue and shaking - 40 degrees and lost ) ....... and couldn't be bothered to find me 100 yards away on the correct corner.

If larger - split them into groups of 3 with distance between the groups. Having three offers safety if one has an issue - one can stay and one can go for help.

This allows other vehicles to pass as well.

Tail and lead having comms is a good idea as well.

Beyond that gets unmanageable in my view and where's the fun.

•••

BTW - buddy and I with scala's we put the GPS follower in the back and the lead rider keeps an eye on what's coming up - gravel - deer whatever- GPS rider tells me over the Scala where to turn - and I keep him apprised of any road condition issues.

That splits the work load - comm units make for safer riding in my opinion.
 

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Our Indiana Governor rides. On August 10, there is a Last Ride with the Governor as he is leaving office as required at the end of his current term. Fortunately, this is a fully escorted ride. Last year the bikes were still leaving the Capitol Building, where the ride originated, before heading south on the main part of the ride 15 minutes after they started. All told, almost 500 bikes. I wouldn't dare to do this without it being fully escorted the whole way.
I'm really looking forward to it.
N
 

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not super experienced on group rides , but our groups always run with a sweeper - so the need for the group leader to keep an eye on the back goes away to some extend - clealry there is still a limit
The sweeper and the leader are always in communication so teh sweeper can ask teh lead to pull over if there is too big of a gap

just my 2 cents

Here's a link they refer riders to

http://www.msgroup.org/GroupRidingGuide.aspx

And they refer to this doc - Group Riding by Ken Condon, Published in Motorcycle Consumer News
the link i found on goole goes to our meetup site - so not sure if you all have access - dont want to repost myself
 

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Discussion Starter #12
FROM THE THREAD POSTER - FOLKS, WE ALL READY HAVE SOME GREAT IDEAS IN DEVELOPING A WORKABLE GROUP RIDE FORMAT. OK, I HAVE READ THE POSTS AND LET'S SEE WHAT WE HAVE SO FAR:

NUMBER OF RIDERS PER GROUP

BUFFALO suggests 6 riders, JEFF B. suggests a maximum of 10 riders. DABOO suggests 5 riders and I concur with Jeff at maximum 10 riders per group.
QUESTION? WOULD SUBURBAN TOWN RIDING VS. VERY RURAL COUNTRY RIDING (NO RED LIGHTS AND FEW INTERSECTIONS) EFFECT YOUR DECISION AS TO THE NUMBER OF RIDERS YOU WOULD ALLOW PER GROUP? THAT IS, WOULD YOU PERMIT MORE RIDERS IF TRAVERSING RURAL COUNTRY ROADS?

ALWAYS FOLLOW THE LEADER NO MATTER WHAT
MOTOPAP1 raises a couple of issues. He tells of an experience leading a ride where he took a left turn and the second fellow behind him went straight. Not good. Should all FOLLOW THE LEADER NO MATTER WHAT? MOTOPAP1 raises a second issue where all did follow the leader who took a wrong turn and they ended up in a private driveway. My opinion is better to follow the leader into a driveway than loose the most of the group. WHAT IS YOUR OPINION?

KEEP EVEN A 10 RIDER GROUP TIGHT IN HIGH TRAFFIC AREAS
DABOO raises an excellent point. There will be inevitably cars who will cut into the group and this can be extremely scarry. I had it happen to me on my Hawks NEST RIDE several years ago. Seems we always get folks who are either afraid to ride in a tight group or put sightseeing before safety (fall back). ANY THOUGHTS ON THIS SUBJECT?

IS ENGINE SIZE A SAFETY FACTOR IN SMALL GROUP RIDING
NOT ADDRESSED YET ON THIS THREAD.
QUESTION? In your opinion(s) what is the smallest engine size you would permit in a suburban small ride setting? What about a faster pavement small rural ride?

THANKS AGAIN FOLKS FOR YOUR EXPERTISE AND PARTICIPATION IN HELPING TO MAKE GROUP RIDING A SAFE AND FUN EXPERIENCE.

VINCE
 

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whitewater said:
...KEEP EVEN A 10 RIDER GROUP TIGHT IN HIGH TRAFFIC AREAS
DABOO raises an excellent point. There will be inevitably cars who will cut into the group and this can be extremely scarry. I had it happen to me on my Hawks NEST RIDE several years ago. Seems we always get folks who are either afraid to ride in a tight group or put sightseeing before safety (fall back). ANY THOUGHTS ON THIS SUBJECT?

IS ENGINE SIZE A SAFETY FACTOR IN SMALL GROUP RIDING
NOT ADDRESSED YET ON THIS THREAD.
QUESTION? In your opinion(s) what is the smallest engine size you would permit in a suburban small ride setting? What about a faster pavement small rural ride?...VINCE
Your first item above raises an interesting point. Is the purpose of the group ride to look cool while riding in formation? Or to see the road and sights you're riding by?

"Safety" in this situation can be viewed from two sides. There's the safety aspect of being spread apart far enough that other vehicles will cut into the group. No matter what, some people will cut in where there is no room and you are forced to let them in. On the other hand...what is the minimum safe stopping distance we were all taught in Drivers Ed? Two seconds minimum, or more. Yet motorcycle groups routinely ride one second apart. Is that safe?

The second raises up some recent memories. The SS1000 ride announcement recommended all riders have a minimum of 1000cc bikes. I opted to do the ride the day before on a 400cc bike...and not ride 1 second from the other riders around me at 90 mph. No matter what the engine size is, the limiting factor is more the rider than the bike (until you get into really small bikes on very fast roads).

Chris
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Chris, you raise an excellent point and I quote......"Safety" in this situation can be viewed from two sides. There's the safety aspect of being spread apart far enough that other vehicles will cut into the group. No matter what, some people will cut in where there is no room and you are forced to let them in."

Our certified riding instructor tells me that a bike can stop many times faster in a shorter distance than a 4 wheel vehicle. JIM C. CAN YOU OFFER WHY? We would appreciate your expertise if you have the time. Thanks

Vince
 

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countryartist said:
Our Indiana Governor rides. On August 10, there is a Last Ride with the Governor as he is leaving office as required at the end of his current term. Fortunately, this is a fully escorted ride. Last year the bikes were still leaving the Capitol Building, where the ride originated, before heading south on the main part of the ride 15 minutes after they started. All told, almost 500 bikes. I wouldn't dare to do this without it being fully escorted the whole way.
I'm really looking forward to it.
N
I'm sure your Last Ride with the Governor will definitely be something to be remembered!
A large group ride can be done safely, with full attention on the part of the participants...and a terrific escort.
A while back, two beams from the Trade Center towers were escorted clear across the US by the Patriot Guard. Nine of our local riders rode east and were able to join the ride in North Bend, WA, on the western slope of the Cascade Mountains, and ride with all the others to Silverdale, near Bremerton. The ride was escorted by a professional motor escort group, and included almost 800 bikes - I think an unofficial count was 787. The entire trip via interstate and freeway had all cross roads and freeway ramps blocked until the entire procession had passed, so we had no other vehicles on the highway with the bikes for the entire trip...
and it was completed without a single incident. Now that was a group ride!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
H E L P....

To the Point....there is no definitive rules for a group ride that I have found. There are general rules such as GARNET posted by the MSF and I appreciate the post. My intention for the past several years is to put together a specific, in depth set of guidelines that the organizer of a group of less than 100 riders can follow and feel relatively safe of negligence. More importantly, each rider will BE SAFE and have FUN.

I served as the MASR legal adviser for a year. I saw a great ride happening (and still do) but I was a bit concerned about the growing number of rider's safety.

Now, the reason for my post is to put together, with your help a detailed pamphlet that others, who want to hold a group ride might use. I can't do this unless I have a bunch of expertise, advice and experiences from you folks.

If this post continues, I will post a pre - pamphlet for all to review and make comments on. When I believe I have enough information, you and I will hopefully come up with a final workable guide. This is a task for sure and I thank you in advance.

I suppose I should say that I am an avid group rider, insurance investigator and a Juris Doctor (Lawyer type). There is nothing in this for me other than improving my fellow rider's experience and losing much needed sleep at age 64 lol.

Thank you,

Vince
 

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whitewater said:
Chris, you raise an excellent point and I quote......"Safety" in this situation can be viewed from two sides. There's the safety aspect of being spread apart far enough that other vehicles will cut into the group. No matter what, some people will cut in where there is no room and you are forced to let them in."

Our certified riding instructor tells me that a bike can stop many times faster in a shorter distance than a 4 wheel vehicle. JIM C. CAN YOU OFFER WHY? We would appreciate your expertise if you have the time. Thanks

Vince
Two seconds is the minimum amount of time it takes for you to react and hit your brakes. Assuming both vehicles have the same braking conditions and capabilities, if you have two seconds spacing, you won't hit them. It makes no difference what kind of vehicle you have.

References:
Those are all quotes easily found on road safety websites by making a query on "minimum safe following distance" or "two-second rule". The point is that if you have one-second spacing from the motorcycle in front and in back of you, you can not react quickly enough to keep from going down too. Just because they are in the other half of the lane...do you really think in an emergency, they will be able to keep it in there?

Accident Involving Multiple Motorcyclists
http://www.kcentv.com/story/15909797/i- ... orcyclists
Posted: Oct 30, 2011 2:42 PM PDT


(KCEN) -- Three motorcyclists were transported to the hospital after an accident involving multiple bikes occurred on I-35 close to Troy.

Around 30 motorcyclists were traveling southbound on I-35 around 3:45 p.m. when they approached a bottleneck of traffic from another accident that occurred a couple miles ahead.

The motorcyclists failed to slow down in time, causing a collision involving around ten of them.

Three motorcyclists were taken to Scott & White Hospital in Temple. Their conditions are unknown at this time
Chris
 

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I am one of the Ride Coordinators for the South Australia Scooter Club which is an arm of the Motorcycle Riders Assn of SA.
Our guidelines for group rides...
SAS Group Riding Guidelines

•Ride Captain
o Leads the ride
o Monitors the whole group
o Adjusts speed as necessary
o Provides Sweep with details of the proposed route prior to departure
o Waits for approval to continue after a mob-up
•Sweep (2IC)
o Tails the group
o Ensures no one gets separated from the group
o Confers with Ride Captain at intervals/ breaks, as necessary
o Provides Ride Captain with approval to continue at a mob-up
o Carries first aid kit
• All riders must be appropriately licensed, clothed, and scooter/ motorcycle registered, insured and roadworthy. Riders not adhering to these conditions are NOT covered by the insurance provided by the MRASA.
• Fuel and check your scooter/ motorcycle PRIOR to departure. Please consider other group members.
Guidelines apply to SAS rides in urban areas. For rides in rural areas, seek guidance from the Ride Captain/SAMRATS Guidelines.
1. Standard Riding Formation
a. The standard formation, under good road, traffic and weather conditions, will be a double row, staggered, in one traffic lane. The interval will be no less than one second between staggered riders, which will automatically make a 2 second interval between you and the rider directly in front of you. This formation allows each rider sufficient safety space and discourages other vehicles from cutting into the group.
i. Allowing gaps in the formation provides opportunities for cars to move in and split the formation, causing a potentially dangerous situation. Splits in the group make it difficult for the Ride Captains to perform their duties, and to see the Sweep.
2. Positioning in Standard Riding Formation
a. The rider following the Ride Captain should ride on the left position during a staggered formation. This allows the Ride Captain to ride in the middle or the right position under most circumstances.
b. Experienced riders should ride at the front or rear of the group and on the right side of the staggered formation. Novice and inexperienced riders should ride in the middle of the group and on the left side of the formation until they are comfortable riding in a group. This will provide a ring of experienced riders protecting the less experienced.
3. Speed
a. The Ride Captain will establish a riding speed that will ensure the group is in formation and together, within zoned speed limits. It is every rider’s responsibility to assist the Ride Captain to keep a steady pace and maintain ride formation. Don’t reduce speed unnecessarily as this adds to the rubber-band effect and can affect the safety of the group.
b. Participation in SAS events requires that your scooter/ motorcycle can maintain the speed set by the Ride Captain.
c. The person riding behind you is your responsibility. Don’t lose them! It is important to keep up with the group, otherwise the whole group will slow down or rubber-band. If the rider behind you is falling back, fall back with them (within reason). The Ride Captain will get the message and may stop the ride to allow participants to regroup.
4. Overtaking
a. Avoid over taking when riding in a group. Overtaking may lead to rubber-banding of the formation.
5. Corner Marshals
a. On runs where there may be vague corners/ directions or considerable distances between riders, Corner Marshals will be employed. If the Ride Captain indicates to the rider immediately behind them at a corner (by pointing), that person pulls over on the corner, turns on the relevant indicator and indicates to ALL following riders the desired direction of travel. The Corner Marshal re-joins the ride immediately before the Sweep, who will have slowed/ stopped to allow them to re-join. If you do not want to be a Corner Marshal, do not ride immediately behind the Ride Captain.
6. Safe Practice
a. Riders should follow the instructions of the Ride Captain in all situations, unless those instructions place the rider or any other individual in an unsafe situation. If everyone does the same thing, then strength is in numbers as will be safety.
b. Never pull up alongside of someone unless you need to signal them or need them to pull over. Pulling up alongside another rider may startle them, or they may have to swerve around a hazard and not have seen you there. If you can’t see their eyes in their mirror, they probably can’t see you.
c. Any rider’s behaviour that is likely to disrupt or bring the SA Scooter Club and/ or the MRASA into disrepute will not be tolerated. In accordance with MRASA Committee guidelines the Ride Captain of the day has the delegated authority to expel them from the group ride.
d. All riders are expected to be familiar with the hand signals. See MRASA forum or ask for a hard copy from committee member.
e. The rubber-band effect (see: 3a, 3b, 4a) can be reduced by following these guidelines:
i. Ride Captain changes speed gradually
ii. All riders should watch farther ahead than just the bike immediately in front of them in order to notice and to react more quickly to changes in speed
iii. All riders should restrain the impulse to “crank it up” in order to quickly re-establish normal spacing
f. Riders must notify Ride Captain and/ or Sweep if departing prior to the scheduled completion of the ride, thus avoiding unnecessary concern about the whereabouts of a particular rider.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Lazyacre said:
I am one of the Ride Coordinators for the South Australia Scooter Club which is an arm of the Motorcycle Riders Assn of SA.
Our guidelines for group rides...
SAS Group Riding Guidelines

• All riders must be appropriately licensed, clothed, and scooter/ motorcycle registered, insured and roadworthy. Riders not adhering to these conditions are NOT covered by the insurance provided by the MRASA.

FANTASTIC POST BY LAZYACRE! I assume you folks ride on the left side of the road lol Kidding.

Lazyacre: Seems you folks have a national organization (MRASA) that provides insurance for group rides. The more I think about it, you folks are much more organized than we are in the states.

Thanks for the information.I will definitely incorporate some of your suggestions into our Booklet.

I really appreciate your taking the time,

Vince
 

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It isn't uncommon for our SAMRATS Touring Group to have 50 to 70 participants and we have no hassles by observing our guidelines. In 6 years I've only ever had to tap one bloke on the shoulder and inform him that he was a **** nuisance to the rest of us.Our groups can be spread out over 5kms (3 miles or more) in hilly areas and reach speeds of high 70s mph.
Incidentally, these guidelines work perfectly for our annual Toy Run which has an average attendance of 18000 bikes. In 2009 the attendance was estimated by police to be 28000 machines and 20% of those had pillion passengers and the riding group took over 2 hours to pass a given point.
Toy Run Info:
http://www.mrasa.asn.au/toyrun.shtml
Motorcycle Riders Assn of South Australia info:
http://www.mrasa.asn.au/index.shtml
 
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