Gold Wing Road Riders Association 
Athens Eagle Wings
It's All About the Ride
  Chapter AL-H  -  Athens, AL     Alabama District  -  Region-A  -  Gold Wing Road Riders Association  

From the Chapter Ride Educators -- Group Riding

Spring will be here soon, and with it the riding season will start picking up. Let's start off the season by reviewing the basics of group riding.

Why do we ride in groups?

  • Better visibility. A group of 3 bikes is more visible than a single bike, enhancing the visibility of all.
  • It's more secure. If your bike breaks down, there is someone there to help.
  • It's more fun to have company on your ride!
  • In cold weather, you have someone to help you get dressed and undressed. :-)

These are but a few of the reasons that we ride in groups, but the number one reason is safety. But a group of bikes is not inherently safer than an individual. Safety is enhanced only if each rider in the group agrees to adhere to the rules of team riding; otherwise the danger increases rather than decreases. We agree to give up some individual freedom and adhere to team riding rules in exchange for the added safety, security, and enjoyment that a group of motorcycles affords.

What are the main principles of team riding?

  1. Be predictable. Safety in the group is greatly enhanced by being able to predict what other members of the team are going to do. Rather than reacting, we act in concert.
  2. Protect each other. As a member of a team, you assume a responsibility to work with the other team members for the safety of all.
  3. Maintain a steady speed and spacing. If your speed or spacing varies, other members of the team will be forced to adjust. This introduces uncertainty in the whole group, which compromises safety.
  4. Stay alert yourself, and alert other members of the team when you see a dangerous situation.
  5. Maintain a safe riding distance, with a 1-second stagger and 2-second following distance from the bike directly in front of you (Figure 1). Increase the spacing in darkness or bad weather. Holes in the formation encourage aggressive drivers to cut into the formation, often tailgating the bike ahead of them. Needless to say, this is very dangerous. By maintaining proper separation, you protect the member in front of you as well as yourself and the whole group.
  6. Stay in your track, except when necessary for maneuvering. Maintaining a consistent track is integral to maintaining proper separation and stagger. Don't make the bike behind you choose between compromising his/her safety or maneuvering to maintain proper separation.
  7. Ride your own bike. In other words, group riding is not a substitute for individual responsibility.

While a group of bikes can be safer than a single bike, a group can get too large. A very large group of motorcycles is difficult for other motorists to pass. It is also difficult to keep a large group together, especially in a congested area with frequent traffic lights or stop signs. Chapter H has decided that, as a general rule, we will restrict groups to 7 bikes or less.

A good team ride starts with proper planning. The GWRRA Team Riding Manual recommends that the route be planned in advance and each rider be provided with a map. The team should discuss and agree on the speed of travel. No one should ride either above or below their comfort level, so be sure everyone in the group is comfortable with the chosen speed. (Riding too slow, especially on a busy 2-lane road, can be just as dangerous as riding too fast.) Pit stops, gas stops, and other breaks should be planned in advance. Again, all of these principles are aimed at one thing: predictability.

Start your team ride by being at the meeting place on time, fueled up and bladder emptied. Be sure you have all the proper equipment and apparel, such as water for warm weather, rain gear, and warm clothing for cold weather. Everyone should carry essential tools and a first aid kit. You should also make sure your bike is safe to ride; use the T-CLOCK or Trike Check inspection form. (Note that one very good reason that general aviation is extraordinarily safe is that every pilot is trained to do a pre-flight inspection. A large majority of aviation accidents are the result of an incomplete or improper pre-flight check.)

Two important members of the team are the Team Captain (aka "tail gunner") and the Team Point (aka "ride leader"). The Team Point rides in front, informing other members of upcoming turns and road hazards. The Team Point also controls the speed of travel. The Team Captain rides in the back, and is responsible for guiding the group in maneuvers, especially lane changes, and keeping the Team Point informed of the team's status.

These are just the basics of team riding. There are many other details that are covered in the GWRRA Team Riding Manual, which you can obtain from your Ride Educators. We encourage each of you to get a copy of this manual and study it. We will also be presenting these principles in chapter meetings and seminars.

Team riding, when done properly, enhances both FUN and SAFETY. Remember that the safety of the team depends on you.

Updated: 11/16/2008 4:54:08 PM

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