Author Topic: Riding in a group  (Read 907 times)

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Offline Diz

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Riding in a group
« on: July 07, 2019, 10:12:32 am »
I started this topic to hear some different opinions about riding with other bikes. Not a group as in 6 or more bikes. I personally don't like riding in groups that number more than 4 as 5 or more bikes start taking up space that can be challenging to the group and to other drivers of the road. I'm hoping to hear responses about riding in smaller groups although all responses are welcome.

Came off a long trip with a good friend I've known for 60 years. We have different riding styles and different bikes. We covered 7000 miles in 3 weeks. We rode in the rain for about 1500 miles. Took turns leading and following. I did more following for 2 reasons. My bike's light set up was much better in bad weather than his and I felt it would be better being in the #2 slot for visibility from behind and to opposing traffic. I found it easier to be behind.

When I was in the #2 slot, it was in a staggered spot from his lane position. I tried to stay 1 second behind. If I could see his face by looking into his rear view mirrors, I was in good position. My friend was the leader, thus dictating the pace and direction. If he took a curve that led him to occupy my lane position, I would drop to 2 seconds behind but would not change the position in the lane. My reasoning for these dynamics was 1st safety. 2nd; road position. The safety these positions brought were better visibility to other traffic, better non-verbal communication between riders, better ability to pass slow moving vehicles and better awareness of each other. There were more benefits but these are enough to begin with. I made sure that my friend was not bothered by our closeness at speed, that he had a comfort level with my ability. The road position that we occupied made it difficult for other traffic to separate us. We were also looking at the same picture, thus  both anticipating slow moving traffic, traffic signals, LEOs and animals.

My friend didn't behave as I did when he was the follower. I knew that traveling much over posted was not for him so that is where I stayed as the leader. But it only took a little time to let me know that he was not going to be the "wing" man. He would pull away slowly from stops so that we automatically became separated by 5 car lengths or more pretty quickly. He maintained a 5 second space between us at highway speed. Lane position had no meaning because of these dynamics. Instead of looking in my mirror to see my buddy was with me; I would ordinarily have to slow up so that I could make sure he was the vehicle behind me. We became separated by another vehicle (or 2) every time he was in the #2 slot. I went 2 miles once with another bike's lights in my mirror before I realized it wasn't my friend. He had been passed by cars and 2 other motorcyclists on the road grew impatient and passed him plus the other traffic to take positions behind me traveling at the posted 40MPH limit. Creating excess space between us put him in more unnecessary dangerous situations. I had to make sure he came out of a curve when we got into some twisties because I was taught that a leader is supposed keep the group together. Experience was teaching me that I wasn't the leader but more like breaking trail. And on certain sections of the road I was glad to take that mantle but it wasn't riding as a team which was the stated objective. His positioning in the #2 slot had the effect of making him the leader, not the follower.

Any thoughts? Other methods to ride as a team or small group?


Offline lather

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Re: Riding in a group
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2019, 11:31:38 am »
What I mainly take from your story is that you two are not compatible riding partners.

Offline SteveJ.

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Re: Riding in a group
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2019, 12:10:08 pm »
if somebody is following one second behind me we're going to have a conversation cuz that is way too close for my comfort. Reaction time being somewhere between three quarters of a second to one second, this is a recipe for a disaster, IMO.
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Offline Daboo

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Re: Riding in a group
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2019, 02:38:06 pm »
First, let me say that I totally agree with the two previous posters.  You two are not compatible riding partners...but can be.  I have some thoughts on how you can make that happen.  Second, you are following too close most of the time.

I lead quite often.  Something about being the only person in the group having a GPS, I guess.  I set a couple rules before leaving when I'm with other riders who haven't ridden with me before.
  • I won't leave you behind.  If you get caught at a traffic light, don't run the light to keep up with me.  I'll pull over at the earliest safe opportunity.
  • When we're in town, move into the staggered formation you talked about to lessen the chances of being separated.
  • When we get out of town, spread out so you have the full lane to ride your own ride in. 
  • If we get separated, I'll wait at the next turn off.  You won't get lost.

Riding in that staggered formation, or as I like to think of it as a "parade" formation, makes sense...at parade speeds.  No one can tell me they are riding safely and seeing the country they are riding through, if they are one second off the tail light of the rider ahead of them.  It can't be done...safely.

It is also dangerous as heck to do that on the open road.  I rode with some riders through three states last month.  They rode in that staggered formation...at 70-80+ mph at times.  They were going through a twisty section of road at about 35 mph when one of the riders went into the ditch.  The rider behind him, followed him.  It is called target fixation.  He was so caught up in maintaining that staggered formation in a situation where he should've been 4-5 seconds behind, that his brain couldn't register that the rider he was following went off the road and he needed to steer around him.

When I lead, I take into account what the rider with me can do.  I like to ride with Doug, who rides a Suzuki Burgman 400.  He can keep up with me just fine, but doesn't have the acceleration capabilities my bike does.  I will usually pass the vehicle ahead of me, create some separation...and then wait for him to get an opportunity to join me.  If I take off at 60 mph after passing a slow moving car, then Doug will have to go much faster to catch up to me.  It puts him into a situation where he's having to do 70-80 mph to catch up with me that isn't safe -- and opens him up to a speeding ticket.

I noticed something while riding in the rear with that group I mentioned above.  Some riders didn't follow the staggered formation.  They had about 4-5 seconds of separation.  I figured that they probably wouldn't want anyone to follow them any closer than they followed the rider ahead of them.  Even if they said it was okay to follow right on their tail.  I wonder if your friend was saying it was okay, just to keep peace with you.

____________________

There's some things that you can do to keep your friendship with this other rider and to make your rides together more enjoyable.
  • First, invest in a cheap set of BlueTooth headsets.  Some of the eBay ones from China only cost about $50-70 for a set of two.  They won't pair easily with a Sena or Cardo, but they'll pair with each other just fine.  It'll let you keep in communication with each other while riding.  If you like the idea after using them, then you can invest in something more expensive later.  If not, you haven't invested much in the cost.
  • Buy a motorcycle GPS.  You may like paper maps more, but you've just spent 3 weeks traveling over 7000 miles.  A motorcycle GPS isn't cheap, but is a minor cost compared to what you just spent on the trip.  A motorcycle GPS will survive in the rain you encountered...and it'll take one worry out of the situation of either of you getting lost.  I didn't want to pay the cost for one, but when I thought of the time I could be wasting trying to make something else work on my post-retirement ride, I just chalked it up to the cost of that ride.  I was going to put out a lot of money on motel rooms and gas.  Why get cheap and ruin the experience sitting on the side of the road trying to figure out where I was and where I wanted to be.

Now...where's the pictures from this trip you supposedly took?  Without pictures...it didn't happen.  ;)  :D

Chris
« Last Edit: July 07, 2019, 02:44:33 pm by Daboo »
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Offline Diz

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Re: Riding in a group
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2019, 09:52:22 am »
My buddy and I thought we made a good riding team. Consider this: No performance awards from or even interactions with LEOs. We made every planned destination on time despite weather. No mishaps of any kind. Neither bike required any mechanical fix or even a tire change. We averaged 487 miles a day when traveling. There were no arguments over the 3 week period and an expressed gratitude to each other at the end of each day. Are these not elements of a successful endeavor?

I stated that we had known each other for more than 60 years. We had ridden together before. My buddy estimated we had ridden more together in previous rides than this epic one. This was my friend's bucket list trip. He wanted company and I can assure all that I was not second choice for him. I know what type of rider he is and he has no illusions about me. We did not change our riding practices for this trip.

I'll defend myself against some of the comments, others will sink in for integration.

The mathematicians will point out that a 1 second differential at 35 MPH is 52' or the equivalent of 2 1/2 car lengths. So yes Steve, if 52' is too close for you at that speed in a staggered position, we won't ride together. I mostly led through urban areas because I have more experience driving in the city. My friend got separated because he gave up space that other travelers saw was usable. Trouble compounded for him cause he gave up space with every vehicle that passed him on multiple lane roads and then took a position in front of him. It wasn't up to me to tell him how to ride, I did my best to keep us together whether leading or following. And if any of you have come out of Salem OR in the morning rush on I-5, you know how vulnerable you can be as a solo cyclist. Vehicles are not moving too fast but there is an awful lot of movement between lanes. In a perfect world, one wouldn't travel then. We didn't have a perfect world but did have a perfectly good time.

An intercom was not in the budget for my friend but we did have hand signals that provided communication. We looked at the same map at each stop so that we had an agreement on our route. A couple of times the road signs did not meet our expectations so a wrong turn was made but we were quickly back on track. Part of the journey.

We were not static riders; that is behaving the same way despite conditions. There was no need to be the "wing" when riding in open country with little or no traffic. These were the roads we sought out. Less than 1200 miles were on slab but that is when we were the most vulnerable to a rear end collision, visibility is paramount.

I regret if my initial post gave a negative interpretation as I tried to be brief and concise. I attempted to describe the situations in urban areas as "other traffic" for brevity.  Daboo says a 5 second delay is too long for the band to stay together. I agree. It makes passing a logging truck difficult if there only a few passing opportunities. Despite my initial description, I never left my friend behind. And I never told him how to ride. He did the same for me. We worked with each other to form an imperfect partnership that had a very successful end result.

Offline lather

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Re: Riding in a group
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2019, 11:40:27 am »
Pretty simple. Your strong friendship overcomes your different riding styles. :beerchug:

Offline Daboo

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Re: Riding in a group
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2019, 12:41:15 pm »
Thanks for that explanation.  It casts a different light on the situation.  :)

Chris
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Offline bajasam

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Re: Riding in a group
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2019, 04:06:17 pm »
I would say your wasting way to much time and attention to where your buddy is at instead of enjoying the scenery and ride, try having a meeting point such as when you stop for gas or stretch your legs to meet at if you get separated.you dont have to hold hands to enjoy the ride,even a 10-20 mile seperation only takes a few minutes to regroup if the leader will pull off at an overpass if he hasnt seen his buddy for 15-20 minutes.Dont try and pretend your the Thunderbirds or a military parade, just enjoy the ride. I couldnt get into riding with someone who's always fiddling with his GPS or Comm or taking cell calls while riding, leave that crap at home. Same goes for anyone who proclaims themself to be incharge or the leader and has rules. It just ruins the enjoyment of the ride. But to each his own of course.

Offline SteveJ.

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Re: Riding in a group
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2019, 01:07:05 am »
Let me clarify my post a bit. In urban areas I think your spacing is fine, but not at highway speeds.

We may not ride together but I would enjoy having an adult(or not) beverage with you anytime.

Take care.
Yeah, if you want true ram air tuning, you better be willing to ram some air! (SiSF)
Tick Tock, baby (Ironbuttal)
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Offline Diz

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Re: Riding in a group
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2019, 08:56:57 am »
Have been on other group rides where mishaps, accidents and broken bones have occurred. Always too large a group and riders unfamiliar with riding in groups that caused real conflict. Was hoping to hear others' stories of riding in groups and general practices during group rides.

Thanks Steve J!  :beerchug:

Offline Daboo

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Re: Riding in a group
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2019, 03:37:47 pm »
In this same area of the forum is a thread titled "MSF Group Riding Tips".  http://forum.cog-online.org/motorcycle-safety/msf-group-riding-tips/

Chris
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Offline Strawboss

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Re: Riding in a group
« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2019, 12:55:35 pm »
It's great you can ride with your friend. On the rare occasion that I ride with friends, it's usually never more than 3 or 4, AND, before that ever happened, I rode with them individually first to see what their styles of riding were. Most times though, I just tell them I'll meet them at whatever location we are riding to. Over the years, I've made a few angry when I told them I'd rather ride by myself after seeing them ride or after just meeting someone who I don't know. So, to answer your question, I just ride by myself, it's much easier and safer I think for me.
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Offline dcstrng

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Re: Riding in a group
« Reply #12 on: July 30, 2019, 05:38:16 pm »
I just ride by myself, it's much easier and safer I think for me.

Lots of good insight in this thread, but I guess that's mee too – excepting one period when I rode with a group off and on for a couple of years, there have only been a couple of folks I’ve enjoyed riding with…  First, since I didn’t ride with a group often I wasn’t confident in my own skills except, to concentrate harder than I enjoyed (I’ve been riding since the 60s and have several hundred thousand miles – but enjoyed very little group riding).  I now live in an little town that tries to attract the typical biker crowd, and they often parade through town in groups of half a dozen to several dozen… some look like they are really on their game, but mostly they are 35mph and under and from the looks of the “colors” all know each other – impliedly have ridden together…  But for me, even when I was riding several hundred miles a week and very familiar with my bikes, I guess I have always been more comfortable out by myself… [As that cop once said – I’ve got to know my limitations…]
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