Just like dancing, riding a two-wheeler is a form of art too. Some people like indulging in the act solo, as if no one’s watching, while others take a liking towards the idea of synchronised group performance. For the latter, it is vital that all those involved in the act perform like one, are aware of their positions at all times, and know the part they play. A similar pattern is put into play while riding. Unless these aspects are taken care of, by each rider, crashing into each other literally or into a fellow rider’s ego is a good possibility.
Before we begin to tell you as to how you can ride safely within a group, it is important that you induct yourself among a bunch that ride responsibly, share a good camaraderie between each other and with you, and inculcate safe riding habits. Riding in a group or even doing a rally becomes dangerous unless each one of them meets these basic parameters, it won’t take much time to realise that you are among people you’d rather not be. Considering that you’ve found like-minded people or are already a part of a riding group, here are some basics which will help you guys to stay safe while riding together.
Before the ride
Before you guys actually think of thundering down the road, make sure everyone is on the same page about the destination for the day. The ride should begin with a mini-briefing, where if there’s a new member, he/she must be introduced to the members of the group and vice-versa. During the briefing, if you have a large group where new members join regularly, it is important to go over rules and hand signals every time, which everyone must be well acquainted with.
The leader must ensure that all group members are aware of pit stops and their locations en route. Every person must carry contact details of all the members of the group, along with information such as blood group, addresses and emergency contact details. If there are riders within the bunch who are aware of the conditions on the route, it is important that they share the information with others. Most importantly, the group must follow a basic criterion with regards to safety gear and the upkeep of machines, where all members must be wrapped in the appropriate gear and ensure their two-wheelers are fit for the ride before commencing the journey.
Every group must have a consensus while selecting a lead rider, who must be familiar with the route, is able to make quick decisions, rides to match the skill level of the group, and can stay focused with a cool head during long stints. There must also be a sweep rider, someone technically inclined if possible, so that he/she can carry the required tools and medical aids for the group, in case something goes wrong.
The thumb rule to follow while riding in a group is that each rider is responsible for the one behind him. Between the lead and sweep rider, every bike must maintain at least 2-3 bike lengths between each other and the group must ride in a single lane rather than curving like a big snake throughout the width of the road which will inconvenience others. Do not go by the rule book at all times though. Ensure that your entire group is courteous to other road users and allow your wisdom to make the best judgement depending on the situation.
While riding in a group, there are also times you must act and ride as an individual. So when you’re pulling out of a parking lot, crossing an intersection, passing vehicles or making turns, you must pull these manoeuvres as an individual. Try not to ride in the blind spot of the rider ahead of you. While overtaking slow-moving traffic, always do it from the correct side, one bike at a time, and move out of the way once you’ve executed the pass.
Know the strengths, weaknesses and skill levels of your group. A bunch of individuals within the group can be really fast, seasoned riders. On the other hand, there could be some who are relatively new to motorcycling or just take it easy. If you are being followed by someone who isn’t as skilled as you, adjust your pace to his/her comfort if you notice that they’re struggling to keep up. Never be a show-off and indulge in a boy race with fellow members during a group ride. That way, you will be jeopardising your own and the entire group’s safety. Everyone has different comfort levels for speed, so either move the group at the pace of its slowest riders or establish ahead of time that you will separate into sub-groups that will collect down the road.
During a pit-stop, never park your motorcycles in a haphazard manner, honk, rev your bike pointlessly, or indulge in hooliganism which certainly inconveniences others and gives bike riding a bad name. Let the social behaviour of the entire group be an example for others to admire and follow. Need an example? Observe how an international airline’s crew walks towards the departure gate before a flight.