From ďthe EducatorĒ

 

This month I would like to address a couple of issues that repeat themselves on our group rides. The first thing is very simple to do, but doesnít get done, because it is so hard to break old habits. When we come to a stop, the left track bike is suppose to stop at the usual proper distance from the bike in front of him. This is something most folks can do, without even thinking about it, cause we do it everyday in our driving lives. But the bike in the right track, this is where we have our problems. Most of the time, the right track bike pulls up to the same spot as the left track bike. It is natural and very predictable. But this is not what you should be doing. The right bike should pull up to where the driver of the right track bike is in line with the passenger seat of the left track bike. The reason for this, to give the left track driver the ability to have a clear and unobstructed view of the traffic conditions in front and to both sides of both of you. This way when you start out again he can make a good decision as to when to start up. As I said earlier, its natural to pull up even with the left bike, mostly it will allow us to talk and get a clear view ourselves. But you will find that you can easily talk even when you are offset a little. And you should also be able to see much of the traffic conditions as well. For those of us that had a chance to watch Drill Team Competitions, you will notice that there is usually one lead bike in a group and that the others watch their position based on looking at the bike next to them, not the one in the lead. This is what you should do when coming to a stop. Keep your eye on the bike to the left, donít pass him up, slow so you can allow him to come to a complete stop and then align yourself with the passenger seat on his bike. It takes a little practice and I can tell you that I have to remind myself often.

††††††††††† Passing on a multi-lane highway or interstate:The biggest problem that happens is the inconsistency in how we accomplish this. Instead of bad examples on this one, lets just deal with the right way. As you pull out into the left lane to pass, be it a car or more importantly a truck, you need to accelerate, I repeat ACCELERATE. In order to pass someone going the same speed you need to increase your own speed to do so. One or two MPH will not be enough to satisfactorily accomplish this. But just how fast is fast enough to make the pass. Well it depends, what else did you expect, an easy one step answer??It depends on how many are in your group. Are you alone, or are there others that also have to make this pass. When you are alone, you only need to increase your speed so that you move ahead of the passed car and can return to the right lane without the traffic to the rear of you approaching your rear. In other words, keep ahead of the other traffic. When you are in a group, your pass may need to be quicker to allow for the others in your group, behind you, to make the pass as well. The conditions on the highway are always changing and if you take too long, you may make it impossible for the others to make the same pass. One of the assumptions that I am making here, is that everyone is traveling close to the posted speed limit. This way, when you make a pass and accelerate 4 or 5 mph you wonít be far off the legal limit. If you are already traveling at a speed that has you quickly coming up on traffic, then you really wonít have to adjust anything as you pass the slower cars or trucks to your right. Now lets add one more thing. You need to leave enough room in front of the passed car or truck for them to be able to see you, when you move back into the right lane. And you need to leave room for the other members of your group to also get in the space you provide, between you and the car you passed. This leads to another passing tool, donít slow up your speed once you have returned to the right lane. You need to maintain this passing speed until all members of your group have been able to get back into the right lane. In this case you get the opposite of the rubber banding effect, you get everyone stacked up to tight and in too small a space in front of the passed car or truck. You need to be aware of the bikes behind you and their ability to return to the right lane.

††††††††††† Lets talk to the tail gunners of our group rides. Where should they position themselves to be most helpful to the group? In an odd numbered group, say 3,5,7, etc. the tail gunner will be in the left track. This is the good place for them to be. It gives them the best view of the road ahead and behind. So what happens when there is only an even number of bikes in the group, 2,4,6 etc. The tail gunner will be in the right track, and when asked to get the left lane for a pass, they are really not in the best view of things. My suggestion is for the tail gunner to ride more to the center of the lane. This will give him the ability to see the entire group, down the middle, and also to be able to float left or right as needed to get the best views of things ahead or behind. Sidecar bikes and trikes should also ride center lane, with the driver more over the left track. I might add, that by being a little centered in the lane, even the lead and the other riders can see the tail gunner in their mirrors. As a leader, looking in your mirrors, you know how difficult it is to recognize exactly where your tail gunner is, but if the group were in their proper left and right tracks and the tail gunner where near the center track, their bike would be more visible to the lead bike. This would help the leader make decisions based on the size of the group, because he could now see the end of the line.

††††††††††† Trikes and Sidecars: Due to their size I would recommend that they ride in the left track. This would give them maximum use of the entire lane. If they ride in the right track, then the shoulder of the road can present potential difficulties, especially if there isnít any shoulder. Their tires could go off the road and this can have a negative effect on them and the group behind. As such, the bike directly behind a trike or sidecar, and especially a sidecar should be in the right track. The driver of the trike or sidecar will tend to center themselves and that would put them in the left track. In order for the bike behind to have the proper view ahead, they would need to be in the right track. I would suggest that as a group looses members over a ride, that the sidecar(especially) or trike shouldmove to a position that allows them to ride in the left track, and anyone directly behind them should be in the right track.

††††††††††† Divided Group: Due to a stop sign or light, the group becomes split up, what should we do to regroup. This responsibility falls heavily on the leader and the tail gunner. But there is also some responsibility on each of the members in the group. If after a break up, you find yourself in the lead, the questions that arise will be, are you on the left or right and should you move that position after you start up again, and, do you know where you are going? If a group of 5 are at a stop sign and two make it through, leaving three behind, the first of the new group is on the right, and so it the tail, on the right. If it appears that it would be a bit before you can reorganize, then you should swap positions. If you can see that you will regroup quickly, you may not want to bother. But a choice should be considered. Now, do you know where you are going, or does someone in the new group know where you are going. If not, then much important to communicate that to the leader and make sure you can remain close enough to still have CB communications and can get where you are going. But lets go back to the leader and the tail gunner. The tail gunner should take up immediate control of the group, because we assume that they should know more about the ride than the others. He should call for the group to change positions is necessary and he should be making the effort to remain in communication with the original leader. Until it is established that the new leader is in fact leading. The original leader: Once you know that all havenít made it through, it would be your job to figure out a way to regroup. Many drivers in a group are along for the ride and depend on the leaders, so they need to understand that the group should regroup as soon as possible. As the leader, you should be looking for a safe place to either pull over or into a space for the group to catch up and continue. In crowded conditions that may not be easy to do, but there should be a minimum of time or distance that would call for just stopping and regrouping. One easy to see stop, is after a change in direction. If the lead group makes a turn or changes roads, then they should stop immediately after the turn. So they can remain in CB contact and can be seen easily as the other bikes approach or pass by.

††††††††††† I have mentioned many times that you have a responsibility to yourself and the others you ride with. By learning and practicing these things, we will make our group rides safer and more fun.