Group Rides with Old Friends

By Bill Harr

I have been blessed to reach retirement and still be riding my motorcycle. My current ride is a 2016 Ducati Multistrada S Touring. Typically, I ride with a core group of 8 old friends, and we go on several long rides and many short rides every year. Four of the riders I have known from my teens, so there are no surprises when we are riding together. Everyone knows how the others ride. The knowledge of how the others ride removes most of the problems that come with many group rides.

Occasionally, we invite new riders to come along on our rides., but we visit with these new riders to find their experience level and how they like to ride. On many group rides, there are factors that cause problems and accidents. Most  larger groups have three groups: the fast front, the middle group, and the slower rear group. The fast front group is normally highly experienced and riding at a pace the new riders should not attempt. All of our group of 8 are able to ride in the front group if they wanted to.

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We have a saying: “Sometimes you need to “tweak the throttle – you just do not need to tweak it every day.” The day you need to tweak it, you ride in the front group. The slower rear group is riding at a pace any new rider will be able to stay with. We always have one of our core group riding sweep at the end, as it’s important that the last rider be experienced and capable of dealing with situations if they occur.

The center group is often where the problems can occur. The center group is riding at a moderate pace, no problem for an experienced rider. Most of our core group will choose to be in this group. Too often, the newer rider who should be in the rear group may try to ride with the middle group. This is where problems can occur. An example would be riding over Ebbetts Pass in the Sierras. An experienced rider coming to a set of corners he has done many times may feel like tweaking the throttle a little. Nothing feels better than linking a set of corners that you know well, at speed. Nothing feels as frightening as entering the same set of corners following a rider at a pace above your ability. This is where the problem happens for a newer rider. This is also where our core group of riders can prevent problems from happening.

We make it clear to all riders they are responsible for watching the rider behind them. If you do not see the rider, slow for them to catch up. If after slowing they do not catch up, pull over where it is safe. Our core riders will be watching for how the new riders are doing. If we see riding that may be problematic we will stop and talk with the new rider. The talk is one on one private coaching to improve the rider’s skills and has been well received.

Now that you know how our group rides I will be posting reports on some of our rides and where we have gone.

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