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Group Riding Guide
Leading Group Rides
Ride Leader Checklist

New England
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For a printable PDF version of the Planning and Leading Group Rides guide click here

The following is an excerpt from the PDF version

Group Riding Safety:
Planning and Leading Group Rides
Suggestions for Ride Leaders

The following guide is intended to cover the fundamentals of planning and leading a group ride.  It is not a definitive source of information on the subject.  For every suggestion on how to lead a group ride there are numerous alternatives and exceptions.  And as always, there is no substitute for good judgment.  For additional information you may wish to visit the web sites listed in the back of this guide.

 

Note: also see the NER guide, “Suggestions for Group Rides.”  It too has suggestions for group riding

 

A pre-ride meeting before the ride begins.

 

 

 

 

Planning and Leading Group Rides
Suggestions for Ride Leaders

  1. So why lead a group ride?  Here are the actual words from a few of your fellow New England Riders when they were asked that question -
    1. When planning a ride I keep thinking about how much folks will enjoy it…
    2. I like to share great roads with friends
    3. I want to give back to the group that accepted me so graciously and with hopes of encouraging other NER'ds to do the same.
    4. By sharing the responsibility of finding the roads, places to eat and all else that goes along with putting together a ride, I feel that I have helped more people get out to ride...
    5. Leading a successful ride is rewarding and satisfying to me. It's a nice boost!
    6. …morning of the ride anticipation seems greater when I'm going to lead the ride.
    7. But most of all...IT'S FUN!

It does take a little more effort to plan and lead a group ride but the rewards are great – and it is fun.  After all, it’s all about enjoying the ride and making friends along the way. 

  1. Ride Planning – things to think about when planning rides.
    1. Pick the dates that work for your schedule.  Don’t overly worry if there is another ride planned for that weekend.  There are always riders who cannot go on one ride but can on another.  Enjoying the ride with fellow riders is what’s important – not the number of riders attending.
    2. You are the ride leader, you get to pick where you want to go. 

                                 i  Maybe the roads you know well are good to start with.  Or perhaps, explore new areas and then take some friends so they can enjoy what you found.

                                ii. There are rides that are just about the riding while there are other rides that are destination rides and yet others that may include stops for special events, museums, music, etc.  Again, it’s your ride.  What would you enjoy?  Chances are some other riders would too.

                                iii. Try to pick a start meeting point with a gas station near by so all can fill up.

    1. Duration of ride – a few hours, a full day or overnight – the longer it is the greater the planning needed. 
    2. Number of bikes & co-riders.

                                 i. Larger groups may limit your choice of food, fuel and comfort stops as not all locations can accommodate larger groups.

                                 ii. In heavy city traffic half dozen bikes is hard to keep together.  On a remote road in New England a dozen or more is easy.

                               iii. When the group gets too large it is best to split it into multiple groups each departing several minutes apart.  Some experienced ride leaders suggest groups of only 6 bikes, but under the right conditions others are comfortable with 12 or more.  CB communications can help to manage larger groups.

                               iv. Limit the number of bikes?  For any number of reasons you may want to limit the number of bikes on your ride - and that is OK.  Maybe a number that you feel comfortable leading or the number of riders that a restaurant can accommodate, etc.  It’s your ride.

                                v. On your first ride as a ride leader you may only want a few bikes.  With experience you may be open to have more riders join you.
 

  1. Ride planning tools.
    1. Maps have been used to plan motorcycle rides since there were motorcycles.  Today, online mapping sites like http://maps.google.com, http://maps.yahoo.com, http://local.live.com can also be helpful, and they are free.
    2. Microsoft Street & Trips is probably the most widely used mapping software in the motorcycling community.  GPS’s and their accompanying software programs are being used with more regularity. 
    3. Some tools (MS S&T being one) enable you to specify the start time and the time planned for each comfort and fuel stop.  It then provides the expected time of arrival at each spot along the ride and the ride completion time.  It makes it easy for others to join a ride while in progress as it can be predicted when you will arrive at various locations.
    4. It can be helpful to copy and paste the directions into a spreadsheet to edit them and enlarge the type size for easy reading in a tank bag.  An example can be found at: http://www.fesmire.com/maps_and_directions.htm
    5. Ask your riding friends for ideas on good roads, eats, accommodations, etc.
    6. Points of Interest are listed in mapping software and GPS’s in addition to the Internet.

    Fuel & comfort stops

    1. Fuel stops.  Most bikes can go at least 100 miles without refueling.  When picking gas stations consider how many pumps they have vs. the number of bikes in the group.  A typical refuel/comfort stop with 4 gas pumps for 12 bikes is 30mins.
    2. Comfort stops – time between stops.  The more people there are the higher the likelihood that someone could use the facilities in 60 minutes, and that someone is very uncomfortable in 90 minutes.  If a rider becomes distracted due to a physical condition they will not enjoy themselves and they could represent a safety risk as they may not be concentrating on riding.  Humor aside, think safety and common courtesy when planning stops.
    3. Comfort stops – picking locations.  The more toilets the better but hopefully there are at least two.  Again, with 12 bikes, some with co-riders, it typically takes at least 30 minutes with two toilets before the group is ready to depart. 

Check for adequate parking for all bikes at each food, fuel and comfort stop.  Give higher weighting to those with large open areas of asphalt vs. pot holed gravel.

...Continued in the PDF version