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Group ride tips for newbie

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by tallstreak, Oct 28, 2011.

  1. Hi all,

    There are about a half dozen or so riders in my division at work, and I have been invited on a 1/2 day group ride with them.

    Apart from my Q-Ride "road-test" I haven't ridden:
    - with more than one other rider, at a respectable distance betwen us
    - at highway speeds for morethan 10 -15 minutes at a time
    - longer than about an hour without a "rest"

    While this ride would certainly add to my on-road experience, I think at this stage it is a bit beyond my capacity/experience, so I have explained that and hoped for next time.

    Any tips for group riding for new riders (preperation / on-road etc), before I give it a go?
  2. If you dont feel up to it, then dont go.

    When riding in a group just do what the other guys do, maybe start off at the back and just watch them. Most riders ride staggered to each other to allow good visibility, braking distance and ability to swerve to avoid objects on the road.

    Theres nothing to it really :)
  3. Keep your distance from other riders for the moment, allow yourself plenty of brake and dodge room. Judge each corner for yourself in line with your understanding of your capabilities.

    Do not fixate on the rider in front of you, doing that can cause you to repeat their mistake if they make one. If you have enough distance behind them though and they are an experienced rider you can get a feel for lines into a corner, braking points etc. None of that exempts you from making your own decisions on cornering however.

    Have Fun :)
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Hi Tallstreak,

    I would add a couple of points:

    1. Don't put yourself under any pressure to keep up or go faster to avoid disappointing your ride partners. At all times you should ride within the limits of your abilities. You showed good judgement by declining the first invite when you felt you weren't yet ready - thumbs up.

    2. When you're in a group ride situation you need to ride quite independently of the other riders ... what I mean is, don't let the fact you're in a group lull you into a false sense of security. Read the road far ahead, ride defensively and scan for risks and potential incidents as though you don't know any of the other riders. Don't trust the leader of the group to spot risks for you, and don't lock onto the tail light of the bike in front and follow them blindly - you may end up following them off the road or into the path of an oncoming vehicle. Great to socialise at stops, but on the road you need to "ride your own ride" - independently and as though you're on your own.

    • Like Like x 1
  5. dont push harder than your limits allow!
  6. As above.

    Ride your own ride. Leave enough time and room. Don't follow the leader or the bike ahead, you're riding your bike - not them. It's not formation aerobatics.

    In the twisties, or anywhere that requires rider attention and demands on your riding skills, drop back to 2 seconds or so, and use whichever part of the lane you need. When droning along the straights, you can close up a bit, but you don't follow in the wheel tracks of the bloke ahead.

    Riding as a group, riders seem to naturally pair off in a staggered formation. It may look like this -

    . - . . . . - . . . - . . . -
    . . . - . . . . - . . . - . .

    or it may look like this -

    . . - . . . . - . . . . - . . . . - . .
    . - . . . . - . . . . - . . . . - . . .

    Don't ride side by side with a stranger. You don't know if they know you're there. They don't know you're competent. You don't know they're competent. Unexpected things happen... If you get within one second of the bike in front, be in the other wheel-track to the one he's in. Don't get within two seconds of him if he's clearly not keeping to one wheel-track. Don't get within two seconds of the next bike ahead, the one in front of him. Mostly, the leader of a pair will ride the centre of the road and the wingman / buddy will ride the outside, but that's not a rule, it's just what usually ends up happening.

    Do pay attention!! People on group rides in town traffic often get all excited about being part of a group, because they get an audience, and they look at the scenery, the landscape, the girls in short skirts - they wave - they whistle - they run into the guy in front of them... Traffic lights don't know you're in a group, and they don't care. The normal rules apply.

    If the rider in front suddenly ups the pace and starts using the whole lane and taking racing lines and stuff - the formation thing is over, for now, so drop back to two seconds and ride your own ride. Don't try to keep riding close to another bike when he's having a bit of a play.

    Don't make assumptions about the people you're riding with. Don't presume they're old hands and capable and competent. Maybe they are - maybe they're not. Old hands can mess up too. There's a big deal in motorcycling about looking like the 'real deal.' That can take many forms, but the intention is to give the informed observer the impression that you are one of the insiders, one of the club, one of 'us.' Unless you know the bloke - don't believe it. Actions speak louder than words, or tattoos, or rally patches, or sporty tyres and new leathers. Rich people often like to dress down, because they don't need to trick anyone into thinking they have money. Same goes for riding experience, and ability.
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  7. Thanks to all for the replies so far. All the advice (and time spent on writing it) is much appreciated
  8. All the above is spot on.

    One thing I would advise is that since this is your first big ride, watch for signs of fatigue, even half a day will take it out of you as a learner. Get some earplugs as well as noise increases fatigue.
  9. I group ride I went on recently was with 2 others I know well and 3 or 4 I didn't.We were heading to Wakefield Park via Oberon.One I didn't know was on a Ducati 848.He looked the part but my buddy mentioned the hardly warn rear rubber.Before we started I passed on that there was a big sign well past Oberon at the start of a very narrow tight downhill bit.The sign was a council apology about the state of the road,cut a long story down.He must have missed this huge sign,ran wide onto the dirt and lowside with not much damage.I couldn't believe my prediction about this nasty bit of road actually happened.
    Group rides are fun but it ups the ante a bit.Don't take what you see as Gospel and keep a good gap in all directions.
  10. As usual, KD is full of top information...

    Go every time you can, but stay up the back and ride your own ride.
    If you spend all day by yourself, but aren't hampering the others too much, then it's all good.
    Otherwise, it's not the pace for you, and don't go out with them again for a while.

    I am going to do a LEARNERS group ride to Yea and back pretty soon. Keep an eye out for it, as it will be perfect for you.
  11. I'd also start off by talking to them about their expectations both of the ride and of you.

    How far do they intend to ride? What conditions are the roads? How much is twistie and how much is gentle? What speeds do they expect to be doing?

    If there is a lot of twisties over a reasonable distance, you will get tired. You need to build ride fitness to ride longer distances or prolonged twisties and if you haven't doen much you will be tireed and tiredness leads to potential crashes.

    What they expect of you:
    Do they no how much (or how little) experience you have? Do they expect you to keep up with them or will they slow down for you? Will they wait for you? Will they look out for you?

    Basically I would expect them to acknowledge you are new and won't be as fast as them if they are experienced riders. If they don't encourage you to not worry about keepig up and ride at your own pace, I would find another group.
  12. When I'm leading a group - which I try and get out of whenever possible - I try to do one of two things.

    Ride in a legal and responsible way, illustrating by example how it should be done.


    B#gger off into the distance like a cut snake. That's naughty of me, but I like corners, and seems a shame to waste a ride. After a few km, I slow right down or even stop, and wait for my group to catch up. This only works with smallish groups, where you know how many and what they're riding and you'll notice if anybody goes AWOL. With bigger groups, there are specific arrangements in place to deal with this. If there are not, think twice about joining in.

    Things I try and avoid are taking off and not stopping. Leaving people behind. Leading other riders into being too adventurous. Turning off without being or leaving a turn marker. Getting other riders into trouble. Setting very bad examples: ie., I will overtake on doubles, but only if I can see that I have a safe opportunity with plenty of margin. There's risk, and there's risk. Don't ever show the newer people big risk. If I get pulled up on a ride - I don't know who any of these people are. Nothing to do with me.

    Never encourage bravado - especially with people who are wide eyed and excited and in over their heads. If I laugh at some young bloke and call him a skirt - and then he goes and kills himself - who's at fault?

    Think long and hard about leading an inexperienced group over a difficult or challenging road. It can end in tears. I have, and it did.

    Be acquainted with basic first aid. Have a plan in mind about what you will do if one of your people comes off. Small - medium - very bad off.

    The other thing I try and avoid - or get rid of - is angry, belligerent, abrasive people. They rub the locals and civilians up the wrong way, and they rub everybody with them up the wrong way. They set entirely the wrong vibe in the group, and become a dangerous distraction - and that's even if they don't manage to start a fight. There's enough trouble in this world just waiting for you, without going looking for it.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Late in, but I would amend the riding last point.

    In my oppinion, the drag bike should be one of the most experienced, not the least.
  14. It's been a while since I was 'the newbie' in a group.

    But my usual spiel to newbies in our group goes something like

    "G'day mate, how are ya?"
    "Not a bad looking bike, how long have you had it?"
    "Look we only have a few rules. Firstly enjoy yourself, ride your own ride, don't fuck up some one elses day, ride your own ride and most of all enjoy yourself. If the lead rider isn't going fast enough for you, don't let fear stop you, go past, just do it safely, ok. Oh, but make sure you know where we are going, we won't be looking for you if you get lost. If you're not sure just keep me insight and you won't get lost, that is unless I do. In which case we aren't lost, we've just taken an interesting detour".

    "You don't think you'll be going that fast? Hey, don't worry about it, just ride your own ride, don't push too hard to keep up. I'd rather wait a few minutes for you to catch up then have you fall off". "See that bloke over there, the one on the ......., hey Steve, this is, sorry I can't remember your name, oh that's right, anyway he's pretty new to riding. Steve's doing tail end today, he'll look after you ok". "Come over here and meet the rest of the mob, hey everyone this is ........".

    Then just before we leave I let everyone know where the first stop is and how we are getting there.

    During the stops I check in with the newbie to make sure they're alright. I also check with those riding around them to make sure they are 'fitting in' and aren't causing any issues.
  15. A wise ride leader, Mick. Newish riders or those new to group riding, require their self confidence to be held intact. Your method of approach is supportive and welcoming, and would put that persons confidence at ease.

    I myself will take a lesson from that.
  16. Agreed. And he should be someone you know has a cool head under pressure.

    [edit] That's good method, b12Mick. I like it.
  17. One thing that I ensure everyone understands on a group ride, is that each are to look out for the rider behind them.(within reason)
    In so far that they should be mindful of the headlight behind . If it suddenly falls back out of sight, then slow down a little to allow catch up. Should that not occur, they can be sure the riders behind theirs are looking after him/her, but clearly something has happened.
    While all this is going on, the rider ahead who is looking out for 'them', has lost sight of 'them'. He takes the same action, and onwards all the way up to those close to the leader, where a rider can catch up and let the leader know.

    At that time, a regroup is required, and the leader can despatch an experienced rider back to the trouble spot, and return with the information.

    What the leader does then is purely up to the incident details and seriousness.
    That's my own particular method, under such circumstances if I am leading a group.
  18. I want to ride with b12mick :)
  19. Yep, that's pretty much how I/we do it. Although if there is a particularly good stretch of 'twisties' we usually apply the 'Every man for himself' rule. But do a regroup at the end, or maybe half way through, depending on the riders and the road. If someone seems to be taking a bit too long then a couple of us will head back to check out whats going on. That depends on who is on the ride, how experienced they are, what sort of bike they are on etc etc. But as a rule of thumb if, after a 100km stretch, I can have 2 smokes and a cup of coffee (that's about 15 minutes in non-smokers/non coffee drinkers time) and they still aren't there, I start gearing up to go back to find them.
  20. If you ever find yourself in Wagga on the 4th Sunday of the month make your way to the Kooringal McDonalds at about 8:30am, we leave at 9:00am. Destinations vary depending on time of year, weather etc.

    Last month we did Albury, Murray River Rd, Jingellic, Tumbarumba, Wagga.

    This month we plan to do Tumut, Cabramurra, Khancoban, Tumbarumba, Wagga.
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