Its important to understand the differences imposed by group riding. And equally important to get together and plan ahead.
The guiding principles for group riding.
- Allow more time for a journey than when riding solo; youll have to ride at the slowest riders pace, take time to gather together, and rest and fuel stops will take longer
- Agree the destination, route, next stop, cruising pace and riding order beforehand
- Re-assess all of the above at rest-points as you go
- Make sure everyone knows an agreed set of hand signals
- Choose a leader and tail-ender willing to wear high-visibility vests
- In a really large group, have an experienced rider mid-pack wearing a high-visibility vest
- Agree to maintain a certain pace.
Its essential to map out your route so no-one gets lost and you make the most of your riding hours. Programming it into a Sat Nav can work well but its always useful to have a map as well:
- Laminated maps are tough and waterproof, making them ideal for touring. Learn how to read the various lines, symbols and colours
- Never read a map while riding. At low speeds, a passenger can sometimes read a map for you and give directions. Otherwise, stop to get your bearings.
Given its hard to understand a mate yelling through his helmet into the wind, you might like to agree on a set of hand signals to communicate:
|TO SHOW THIS||DO THIS|
|Point out a road hazard||Extend left or right leg, as appropriate, at 45 degrees|
|Re-fuel||Raise your left forearm vertically, upper arm horizontal|
|Stop for a toilet break||Extend your left arm down at 45 degrees|
|Stop for a drink or bite to eat||Lower your left forearm vertically, upper arm horizontal|
|Note speedo reading for later||Rest your left hand on top of your helmet|
- Put the slowest rider near the front so they won't be left behind
- Set a speed that suits the slowest rider in the group, so no one feels pressured into going faster than they want
- Make the fastest rider the tail-ender because they'll have the least trouble keeping up.
- Only overtake another rider on a straight section of road, signaling your intention with your horn or headlight
- If there is a lot of overtaking your leader should reduce the pace or the group will become too strung out.
- On straights, ride in a staggered patter with one rider to one side of the lane, the next rider to the other, and so on. This gives riders better visibility.
- Maintain a minimum two-second gap from the riders ahead of and behind you, even when riding in a staggered pattern. Dont get caught up in a herd mentality.
5. Single file
- Change back to single-file (and increase following distances if necessary) when hazards are encountered, or when cornering
- Space out in single file if travelling slower than general traffic so other vehicles can overtake each rider safely.
- Stop in a staggered pattern at intersections. It makes collisions less likely should anyone balk or remain stopped.
7. Watch for animals
- Be wary of startled animals, as the first rider past may cause one to run out into your path.