Riders in a group ride fall into one of four positions. Their responsibilities and duties are as follows.
Road Captain: The RC is in the ultimate position of authority for that particular group ride! The RC is responsible for designating riders to serve as TG, and, when required, RG's. The RC must assess, as best he/she can, the riding skills of those in the group, and then make appropriate adjustments to ensure that the ride is conducted in a safe manner for all involved.
The success of most rides depends a great deal on the expectations of the attendant riders. The RC should provide as much useful information as possible including who he/she has designated as the ride leaders (TG, RG), and give an overall picture of how he/she expects to lead the ride (pace, frequency of stops, anticipated food breaks). The RC should review the Road Rules (hand signals, formations, etc.) and other pertinent items, such as setting an understanding for conduct and timing at stops, for example: non-fuel related stops will be brief unless otherwise indicated, probably no longer than 10 minutes (or whatever time is planned).
The RC must be aware of the length of the columns, and must gauge the passing of merges, highway entrances and exits, etc., to allow for maximum safety and keeping the group together. He/She must make sure that he/she leaves enough time/space for the formation to get into the appropriate lanes before exits, etc. All directions come from the RC. The RC makes all decisions regarding lane changes, stopping for breaks and fuel, closing of gaps, turning off at exits, any concerns of what lies ahead, and so on. No individual will assert himself independently without direction from the RC to do so.
The RC is responsible for addressing, at the earliest reasonable opportunity, any rider who is not following riding rules. The RC has the responsibility, and authority, to remove from the group any rider who, after receiving an appropriate warning, continues to violate riding rules during a group ride. The RC will inform club leadership about any such action that is taken.
Tail Gunner: The TG is in the 2nd highest position of authority. The TG is the last rider in the formation. No rider will fall behind the TG. The TG attempts to ride in such a way as to make himself/herself visible to the RC as much as possible. The TG rides with the high beams on (and having triple lights is preferable). The TG has many responsibilities for shepherding the group, many of which involve anticipating what the RC will do next, most of which are initiated by events taking place in front of him/her; but not all.
The TG serves as the eyes of the Ride Leader. He will watch for merging lanes, and will move into a merging lane (or stay in a merging lane just vacated by the group) in order to "close the door" on other vehicles that may otherwise find themselves trying to merge into the formation. The TG will normally change lanes before the formation, to secure the lane so the formation can move into it.
The TG will also serve as a blocker at intersections, or when entering the highway. The direction/lane to be blocked will normally be coordinated in advance with the RC.
In the event a bike has to fall out of formation, the rider should move to the right. All other riders are to stay with the group. The TG will stop with the problem bike. The RC will slow down the speed (to allow time for the problem bike and TG to catch up), or will lead the group to a safe stopping place.
Note: Lane integrity should be maintained at all times...do not cross-over from one column to the other in order to fill a vacated spot. The next rider in that column is to move forward to fill the vacated space (make sure that the diagonal bike in front of you knows that you're moving forward before you do so). After the vacated spot is filled, the next rider in that column repeats the previous steps. This continues until all riders in the affected column have moved forward. After all riders have moved forward, it may be necessary for a single rider at the end of the group to cross-over.
Road Guards: On occasion there may be need for the RC to designate riders as Road Guards (RG) to the assist the TG. RG's serve as blockers at intersections, or when entering a highway and the group has to cross two lanes of traffic. The direction/lane to be blocked will normally be coordinated in advance with the RC. When RG's are know to be needed before the ride starts, the RG's will normally be placed at the front of the group, so that they can peel off and perform their assignments. After the blocking is completed, the RG's will fall back into the group at the rear, but in front of the TG.
Formation members: If you’re not one of the ride leaders, then you’re a formation rider. How you conduct yourself in the formation has significant impact on all riders in the formation. Do your best not to stand out from the other riders. Being noticed typically means you're doing something wrong, usually it means you’re not holding your line, or your spacing is inconsistent. This gives the riders around you cause for pause. They will have to pay more attention to you than might otherwise be necessary, thus taking their focus and attention off other aspects of the ride that they might otherwise engage themselves, such as anticipating formation movements, reading their “tells”, or keeping their own spacing. The primary role of a formation rider is to be attentive, ride safely, observe all riding rules, be courteous of others in the group, and have a good time.
Staggered: Our standard group riding formation is Staggered (or State Patrol). In the staggered formation, the bikes form two columns, with the Road Captain (RC) at the head of the left column. The second bike will head the right column and will ride approximately one second behind the RC. The remaining riders will position their bikes two seconds behind the bike directly in front of them, which puts them one second behind the diagonal bike. The Tail Gunner (TG) may ride in either lane but will normally ride in the center of the lane, thus making it easier for the RC to see his/her bike.
When approaching traffic control (stop light, stop sign, flagman, etc.), the group should tighten up into a side-by-side formation.This formation should only be used in low speed situations. It reduces the amount of space the group requires and is a courteous way to share the road with other vehicles.
Single Column: In this formation there is a single column, with each rider maintaining a two second spacing behind the bike in front of him/her. The group should follow the same position in the lane as the RC. This is because the RC may have noticed a problem up ahead (accident, pedestrian, pothole, narrow bridge or lane, etc.) and is attempting to avoid same. It is important that each rider pay attention and follow the example set by the RC. Failure to do so could result in the riders behind you getting the wrong message and they may suffer harm due to your actions (or lack there-of).
There is usually a significant effort required by a ride planner to get a large group of riders together, in a common place, at a given time, so that you can enjoy a group ride. Until you’ve tried to do this you won’t know how frustrating it can be just to listen to everyone’s ideas about the ride. Riders who have suggestions about a ride should voice same during ride planning, not on the day of a ride.
The basic conduct for a formation rider is simple...be considerate. Don’t be the last one ready when the group saddles up and prepares to take the roadway. The basic rule here is to show up early to the meeting place and be fueled up and ready to go before the appointed time. Try to be early so that any unforeseen delays will not prevent you from being ready on time.
At any stop made by the group be sure to take care of your personal business first, such as clothing changes, mechanical adjustments, getting gas, or using the restroom before you engage in social conversation. You should be ready and able to move your motorcycle into the formation with-in 2 minutes of the Road Captains signal. That includes helmet on, gloves on, jacket on, bike running, loaded up and ready to move out. Make that your goal. Smokers, you should attempt to work out a strategy that doesn’t inconvenience your fellow riders.
Tells are anything in the environment around you that allow you to gather intelligence relevant to the safety of your journey; road signs, sounds, visual clues (dust/sand storms), or anything else that can warn you of imminent change. Read your “tells” and be vigilant in searching for them. In a passing situation on a two-lane highway you may notice a vehicle parked on the shoulder up ahead on the far side of the road. Is there an operator behind the wheel? Is there a possibility that the vehicle may enter the roadway? What if it does and executes a U-turn?
If you’re in a staggered formation and notice that there are a number of vehicles traveling closely behind the TG and also notice a road sign indicating that you’re approaching a passing lane, you might anticipate that the RC will issue the hand signal to tighten up the formation. In doing so, the RC is preparing to move the formation into the slower (right) traffic lane in the passing section and hoping to allow as many vehicles to pass as possible before the passing lane ends. The TG should be cognizant of this fact and move over to secure the left lane, called “closing the door” so that the formation can remain contiguous.
Help out from the back by reading your “tells” and anticipating the RC intentions. The longer it takes for the back end of the formation to tighten-up on this maneuver, the less likely it is to be successful at its completion.
1. The Road Captain (RC) will put on his/her turn signal as an indication that he/she is about to make a lane change.
2. Each rider sees the turn signal and also turns his/her signal on so the riders following get the signal. This continues all the way back to the Tail Gunner (TG).
3. The TG will then move to the designated lane and secure same.
4. The RC will then check the designated lane and then initiate the lane change by moving into the designated lane.
5. Only after the RC has initiated the lane change will the second rider in the group (the one located to the right of, and slightly behind, the RC) initiate his/her lane change, after checking the designated lane. After the second rider has initiated his/her lane change the third rider initiates his/her lane change, after checking the designated lane. This continues until all riders have changed lanes. The important part is that no rider (except the TG and RC) is to initiate a lane change UNTIL the rider in front of them initiates a lane change.
Note: The RC will normally make a lane change only after verifying that the TG has secured the lane and that no vehicles are in the way in the designated lane. However, there will be occasions when the RC may not be able to determine this. And on occasion we may have vehicles enter the designated lane from a side road or parking lot. It is for these reasons, and others, that every rider must visually check the designated lane themselves BEFORE making any lane changes.
Note: Electric turn signals will normally be supplemented with hand signals.
The following hand signals will be used during group rides. The only rider in the group that is authorized to initiate these signals is the Road Captain (RC). As each rider sees a hand signal, he/she shall repeat this signal. This process will be repeated until all riders have passed along the signal.
Left turn: Left arm extended straight out from the shoulder.
Right turn: Left arm extended straight out from the shoulder but with elbow bent straight upwards.
Single column: Left arm straight up...first (index) finger also extended straight up...all others fingers closed.
Staggered (double column): Left arm straight up...thumb and pinky finger out, other fingers closed, rotating wrist back and forth.
Tighten-up: Left arm straight up...all fingers spread out, then fingers are closed into a fist...this is repeated several times.
Stop: Either arm is extended out and dropped to the side of the bike...all fingers are spread out.
Slow: Either arm is extended out and dropped to the side of the bike...the palm is parallel to the road and the hand is pushed up and down several times.
Road hazard: There is only one hand signal that can be initiated by anyone in the group other than the RC and that signal is for a road hazard. Anyone seeing a hazardous condition on the road surface (road kill, oil, debris, significant pothole, etc.) should point to it (using either his/her arm or leg).
1. The use of hand signals by everyone in the group is important to the safe riding of the group. Therefore, it is important that each rider be attentive, repeat all hand signals that are initiated by the RC, and implement the commands associated with these signals.
2. Inexperienced riders may feel unsafe removing their hands from the controls of their bike. Any such riders will not be required to repeat the hand signals. But any such riders will be expected to identify themselves, prior to the ride, to the RC. After reasonable experience has been realized, the use of hand signals will be expected when group riding with the club.
3. Any experienced rider who does not follow riding rules during a ride will be asked by the RC to do so during the first reasonable opportunity during the ride. Failure of a rider to comply after being warned will result in the rider being asked to leave the group ride. In addition, the RC involved will inform club leadership about the incident, where-in a review will be conducted to assess the appropriateness of banning the subject rider from future group rides.
The riding formation may become segmented due to a number of circumstances, such as a merging vehicle or a traffic control (stoplight). Other times, segmented formations may be planned, for example, to allow fast paced and slow paced groups to proceed along a twisty section of road providing desirable riding conditions for a wider range of skill levels.
Traffic may attempt to merge with the formation whether invited to or not. And it is key to consider this: that you have the ability to invite vehicles to merge into the formation. By not keeping your spacing (lagging behind) you create an opportunity for vehicles to penetrate the formation uninvited – this creates a multitude of problems and safety issues, try not to let this happen.
In other situations, such as vehicles entering the interstate via the acceleration lane, it may be necessary to allow that vehicle to safely merge into the formation. Doing so requires coordination between all riders in that area of the formation. When done properly, only one space will be created for each vehicle by the formation and the appropriate rider will indicate to the operator of that vehicle that he/she should place the vehicle in that space. If a space has been created for a vehicle then all other riders should maintain proper spacing so that the operator of the vehicle does not become confused and attempt to merge with the formation at the wrong place.
The bottom line however, is that “might is right”. You can’t physically stop an automobile from doing whatever the operator decides to do. If a vehicle makes a move in your direction, get out of the way. As a rider in the formation, you should be prepared to make room for another rider caught in this situation. On highways, check the on-ramps for possible traffic and prepare early to take appropriate action.
While proceeding in the single column formation, the RC may choose to pass another vehicle on the highway. There are 3 primary instances in which this might occur.
The first takes place on a two-lane highway. The RC will lead out around the vehicle and roll on the power. While overtaking the vehicle the RC will extend his/her left arm out to the left and give a “thumbs up” to indicate that the next rider can safely pass the vehicle. Each rider, in turn, follows this pattern. When the passing situation becomes unsafe for any reason, the sign will be changed to a “thumbs-down” position. At this time no other riders should attempt to pass and room should be made by those in front, and behind the vehicle being passed to allow those riders who are in the passing lane to safely return to the lane.
The second situation also takes place on a two-lane highway. This time, however, there is a passing lane and the RC chooses to move the formation into the left lane and overtake vehicle(s) in the right lane. If you’re watching your “tells”, you may notice the road sign indicating a passing lane approaching. At this time the RC may use a hand signal to indicate that the formation should tighten up (decrease the spacing interval). The RC would do so by extending his/her left hand straight up with all fingers extended, then closing his/her hand into a fist and repeating. With all this information you should be anticipating a passing maneuver. Again, when the RC leads out around the vehicle, keep the pace and be expeditious. It’s best if you don’t wave “thank you” to the vehicles on your right as you pass, stay focused on the task at hand. The TG will take care of the public relations.
There are a few critical points of concern with respect to the two passing maneuvers mentioned above. When passing, do so as expeditiously as possible. The RC will make a pass and continue to ride at an increased pace until all riders have completed their pass. It is critical that you stay right on the pace of the RC so that ample room is created between the riders that have passed the vehicle and the vehicle itself. This will allow space for those still passing to return safely and comfortably to the lane. Remember, if you slow down they will be approaching you at a higher rate of speed and then be required to complete their pass by applying the brake – and that presents safety issues.
On a two lane highway situation, the methods for passing a vehicle while traveling in a staggered formation are the same as those given for the single column formation except that the riders must begin to merge the columns as they move into position behind the vehicle being passed. It’s better not to merge too early because that lengthens the formation and increases the possibility that not all of the riders will have an opportunity to complete the pass. Also, upon completing the pass, riders should continue on in a single column formation on the far right side of the lane, thus, allowing passing riders the best opportunity to recover from unforeseen circumstances should they occur. Once the TG has completed his/her pass, the RC will give the hand signal to reform the formation according to his/her desire.
When passing traffic on a multi-lane highway by virtue of the traffic lane occupied by the formation moving at a higher rate of speed than the adjacent lane(s), there are considerations to keep in mind. For example, if you’re passing a semi-truck, the RC will likely hold back at a safe distance until enough space is created beyond the semi that the entire formation will be able to pass by. The RC will pass by the semi at an increased rate of speed so as to spend the minimal possible time along its side. You should do the same; again, keep your spacing based on the example set by the leaders. Trucks change lanes, retreads blow off, rocks are propelled from underneath; there are many good reasons not to tarry alongside of semi-trucks.
Why does parking seem to be so difficult? It’s typically because ride discipline breaks down too early. Stay in formation as long as possible and allow the RC to establish a parking pattern if possible. The more riders that veer off in their own direction the more opportunity there is for collisions and confusion. Keep the discipline.
Once you’re satisfied with where you’re motorcycle is parked, put the kickstand down immediately, and get the front wheel turned over in the appropriate fashion – usually hard over to the left. Inspect the pavement, or other surface, to be sure that it is suitable for sustaining the weight of your bike for the duration of your intended stay. If it’s really hot out and you’re parked on asphalt, the kickstand may eventually penetrate the surface and you’re scoot will be laying on its side after awhile.
Getting the kickstand down immediately will prevent you from forgetting to deploy it if you decide to remain in your saddle for a while and remove your helmet and gloves. It happens more often than you’d expect; that someone will simply get up off their bike with the kickstand up and walk away.
Let’s be courteous as group in parking lots. Four bikes can easily fit in a single parking stall, and usually four will fit, unless they’re “baggers”. It would be rude for a group of 10 bikes to use up 10 stalls.
There are many potential risks in a parking lot such as vehicles pulling in and out, slippery surfaces (wet concrete, oil on the asphalt), children running unattended, pot-holes, missing manhole covers; the list goes on.
You need to identify the risks prior to engaging in activities that involve moving your motorcycle. Be aware of what your fellow riders are doing as well.
ENTERING & EXITING ROADWAYS
The point of extremis is the condition where two vehicles are in a situation where both are required to take evasive action in order to prevent a collision. Don’t get into this situation.
When entering a roadway you need to consider many things: the speed and density of the traffic on the roadway, the skill level of the riders in your formation, the type and condition of the riding surface, both on the roadway, and on the entry surface.
You should have been surveying the traffic long before you actually arrive at the entry point of the roadway. If you need to pause to take a long look for the first time as you approach this point, you’re way behind the eight ball. Continually glance down the road and identify the hazards as you approach the entry point. Once you’ve committed yourself to the roadway, carefully get your motorcycle pointed straight down the road as quickly as safely possible, and then accelerate expeditiously and assume proper spacing. The longer it takes to get all riders out on the roadway, the longer we are collectively exposed to this greater risk area.
Pay attention to the riders near you. Those on the inside of the turn may not have the proper low-speed turning skills required to successfully negotiate a tight right-hand entry turn and may drift wide to the left.
When exiting a roadway pay close attention to the transition area between the roadway and the shoulder or off-roadway surface. If it’s dirt or loose gravel you need to be sure and get down to a safe speed before you transition onto that surface so you don’t wash out, plan to do so in a way that doesn’t require aggressive braking or maneuvering.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, you need to exercise good judgment based on the abundance of information available to you when you roll into a position to enter or exit a roadway. If you can’t safely perform the maneuver at that moment, then don’t! You must be aware of the situation at hand, understand the skills required to perform the maneuver, and know that you can successfully complete the maneuver before you commit yourself to it.
NEW RIDERS OR RIDERS NEW TO GROUP RIDING
New riders, or those that are inexperienced with group riding, should inform their RC of this prior to a ride. The RC should then suggest that these riders ride up front of the group (but not further up than 3rd position).
If the RC does not know the skill levels of all those in his/her group, he should make it known during the pre-ride briefing that new riders, or inexperienced group riders, should ride up front.
Riding up front serves several purposes, but the primary one is that it provides the RC with the best visibility of how these riders are doing, so that he/she can make appropriate adjustments in the ride. It also permits the other riders to adjust their ride according to how the front of the group is doing.
In the event a rider asks to ride in the rear of the group, the RC will decide what is in the best interest of the group and ask that rider to ride there; if any rider is observed to be having "difficulties" during a ride, the RC should address same at the earliest, and safest, opportunity.
B) Club Rules
The MC is composed of five (5) members...the two co-leaders,
plus three elected members-at-large. If we agree that at least 4 of these
members (somebody can't make it due to being out of town, conflicting schedule,
etc.) must be present to vote on an application, then how many MC members does
it take to approve (or disapprove) an application?
Posted are two options. First, an application can be approved as long as not more than one MC member disapproves the application. This would mean that an application could be approved with only a 75% approval vote (3 out of 4 members vote; or, 80% if all 5 members vote). The second option would be that each application must be unanimously (100%) approved by those voting.
• 4 of 5 must vote; only 1 can diagree
• 4 of 5 must vote; vote must be unanimous